Russian Black Bread

A robust and flavorful bread that can be enjoyed with butter and caviar or used to make a hearty sandwich.

Russian Black Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves

This recipe makes 2 loaves.


  • Starter consisting of 181g flour + 180g water
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 118 grams warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 290 grams water
  • 85g molasses
  • 57g apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 28g unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 306g medium rye flour
  • 201g unbleached, all-purpose or bread flour
  • 1 cup bran
  • 1 tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp minced shallots/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal (optional)
  • 1 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour (optional)
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds (optional)


  • In a small bowl, combine yeast and sugar with warm water. Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  • Heat two cups water, molasses, vinegar, butter and chocolate until the butter and chocolate are melted. Set aside and let cool to lukewarm warm.
  • Combine whole-wheat, rye and white flours in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • In bowl of a heavy mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine two cups mixed flours, bran, 2 tablespoons caraway seeds, fennel seeds, salt, espresso and shallots. At low speed, add yeast and chocolate mixtures. Mix until smooth and beat at medium speed for three minutes.
  • At low speed, add half cup of remaining mixed flours at a time, until dough clears sides of bowl and begins to work its way up paddle. It will be very sticky but firm.
  • Scrape dough off paddle, flour counter well, and knead to make a springy yet dense dough. You might not use all of the flour mixture.
  • Form into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Turn once to grease top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm area until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Combine cornmeal, flour and remaining caraway seeds, if using, and set aside.
  • Gently deflate dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into two portions and form into two rounds or loaves. Loaves should be placed in a loaf pan sprayed with nonstick spray, while rounds should be placed seam down on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle loaves with cornmeal mixture, if using. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled and puffy, about 45 minutes to one hour. Slash an X into the top of a round before baking it; no such slashing is needed for bread in a loaf pan.
  • Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until loaves are well-browned, or register an internal temperature of 200 to 210°F on an instant-read thermometer. Baking time in your oven may vary — check in on the bread when it is 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through the baking time to make sure it has not super-speedily baked. Remove from baking sheet to cool completely on a rack.

  • This bread can also be made by hand, simply mixing the ingredients in a large bowl with a wooden spoon and kneading the dough on a counter until springy and smooth.