Thursday, January 19, 2012

Black Caraway Bread

This bread combines so many different ingredients that seem strange but go together perfectly to make a delicious savory bread.  The closest thing I can compare it to would be pumpernickel bread, but the flavor of this black bread is really far more complex and has a slight hint of sweetness.  I've been cutting slabs of bread from this giant loaf to eat with butter every day now and I'm still not tired of it.  It also went great along side of our Italian sausage-white bean soup.   This recipe came from 101 Cookbooks and I didn't change a thing.  It is time consuming, (as all homemade breads tend to be) but totally worth the effort for a unique and delicious loaf.

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water
1 teaspoon natural cane sugar / brown sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons finely ground espresso beans
1/4 cup molasses
3 teaspoons caraway seeds, plus more for topping
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
~2 cups coarsely grated carrot (2 large)
1 1/3 cup / 150 g rye flour
~3 1/4 cup / 15 oz / 425 g bread flour (or unbleached all -purpose flour), plus more for dusting
olive oil for kneading and oiling baking sheet
2 tablespoons buttermilk, water, or milk

Dissolve the yeast into the warm water with the sugar.  Whisk to combine, and let it sit until it gets frothy, or about 10 minutes.  If the mixture never gets frothy then you know the yeast is not good.  Meanwhile, over medium-low heat, in a saucepan combine the molasses, cocoa powder, ground espresso, butter, caraway seeds, and salt.  Cook until just melted, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and pour it into a large mixing bowl.  Let it come down to a lukewarm temperature before adding the rest of the ingredients.
To the bowl, add the yeast mixture and the shredded carrots.

Add the rye flour and stir to combine.  Then, add the bread flour, about a cup at a time until the mixture comes together into a thick sticky dough.  I ended up using all of the flour but you may not need to.  

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and begin to knead.  Sprinkle more flour on the dough as needed if it becomes too sticky to work with.  It will be pretty stiff at first.  Knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is soft and springy.  Form it into a ball and rub with olive oil before placing into a bowl to rise.  Cover the ball and let it rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours. (We only did one).

After the first rise, take the dough back to your floured surface and deflate it gently by pressing down with a closed fist.  Knead it ever so slightly, to form it back into a nice round shape before letting it rise a second time.  This time, place it on a lightly oiled baking sheet.  Cover with plastic wrap or a loose cloth and let it rise for one more hour.  I accidentally cut the cross into the top of my bread before this step as you will see in the photos, but you should really wait until after the dough rises to do that step.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F so that it will be ready when your dough is done rising.  By that time, the dough should have doubled in size.  Carefully cut slits across the top of the bread in the shape of a cross.  Brush the milk or buttermilk over the top of the bread and sprinkle 1 t caraway seeds all over.  Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, and then decrease the oven to 350 degrees F, leaving the bread in the oven for an additional 20-25 minutes.  You should be able to tell it has a hard toasted crust and it will sound a bit hollow when you knock on it.  Let it cool for 15 minutes before slicing into it.  (I could barely wait that long!) 

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