Sunday 1 April 2012

Black Bread - Short and Tweet

This week's selection included suggestions for a number of different breads from @EvidenceMatters - you can find the Short and Tweet schedule for April here. You can find out more about the challenge and how to participate here. So this week's selection included Spelt and Ale loaf (I've just finished my spelt flour!), Walnut loaf (out for obvious reasons round this way), Soya and Linseed Loaf (I have recently baked, but not blogged about a soya containing loaf so didn't want to duplicate the bread in my freezer), Multigrain and Honey loaf and Black Bread. Both of these remaining breads included ingredients I'm really not sure that I'm keen on. I don't really do seeds very much and the Black Bread is full of slightly weird and wonderful ingredients.

Having recently aquired some caraway seeds I decided that it would be the Black Bread for me. Helpfully it didn't require the sponge stage that the multigrain and honey loaf needs. Helpful because I am not organised and have only just finished baking this loaf!

The loaf derives the intense black colour from a mixture of rye flour (although you can choose rye, spelt or wholemeal), black treacle, cocoa powder and instant coffee powder, plus there are additional flavours from the seeds - caraway, fennel and cumin are the suggestions so I decided on caraway. There is also an option on the starchy root vegetable too - carrot is suggested and is what I used, but I'm sure that parsnip, swede, turnip or even potato would work equally well. I guess that with all of these variations each loaf of black bread will be fairly unique to the baker making this particular recipe.

I halved the recipe - partly due to storage issues (again) and partly because I'm not sure that I'll like the end result! Having said that, when I halved the ingredients I was mean with the seeds, using just a scant tsp, mean with the coffee, using just over a half a tsp instant espresso powder (I really don't like coffee at all, even as a flavouring in cakes, but having successfully made Dan's Black Pepper Rye Bread that has coffee as the liquid component, I suspect that the coffee will add to the complexity of flavours rather than overwhelm the loaf), and used about 20g butter.

Cooked rye, muscovado sugar and yeast.

Leaving the yeast to sponge briefly with a portion of the rye that is cooked.

The same mixture after being left for almost an hour.

Lots of random ingredients, ready to be heated.

All in, now to mix...

Mixed up dough, rough and ready before kneading.

Just before shaping. I chose a baton shape rather than the specified round.

After prooving.

Dusted and slashed. I didn't coat mine with the specified sesame seeds, because as I mentioned above, I don't really do seeds.

Just out of the oven.

The crumb is so, so soft. I'm really pleased with the way this has turned out - I chose the right time to bake and was rewarded with oven spring and my slash opening out well, and the crumb is moist and even.

I baked for 10 minutes at Gas 7/220C, then 30 minutes at Gas 6/200C, followed by a further 10 minutes at Gas 6/200C upside down to crisp the base of the loaf.

Amazing looking bread - I haven't had any of it yet, but will update with tasting notes as soon as I can.

Edited 02/04 It's a stunning bread to eat - soft and moist but not pappy soft. The flavour is certainly unusual. The combination of rye, coffee, cocoa and treacle all sort of magically meld into one seamless complex whole - of those flavours I could probably have identified treacle as one but the others were mingled. I'm sure this is just how it is meant to be - after all, the coffee in the Black Pepper Rye bread isn't noticeable as coffee either. I'm glad about this as a non-coffee lover. The next thing I say may sound obvious to many of you, but bear with me, because I've only ever used caraway seeds once before in my life! The choice of seeds in the recipe is caraway, fennel or cumin and I chose caraway, simply because I had them available. The caraway flavour is still very prominent after baking. I thought that this may be the case, because it is a strong flavour, but wondered if it would be tempered by all of the other flavours in the loaf - not so much is the answer! This is fine and great if you love caraway, but I'm still not so sure. I guess this means I'm perching on the fence with this loaf. So it's a stunning loaf - visually, texturally and flavourwise, but use seeds that you know you like the flavour of. Next time I'll make it without seeds I think! I had mine with hard cheese, but think it would actually be much better with a cream cheese.

I'm also entering this into Alphabakes, hosted by Caroline at Caroline Makes and the host this month, Ros at The More than Occasional Baker. The Letter this month is B. So I think my Black Bread qualifies there! 


Joanna @ Zeb Bakes said...

This is the one I was going to make so am very keen to hear what you think of it. I love the soya linseed one but I've made it loads of times and the oven has been taken over by other things today. Your loaf looks ever so beautiful, gorgeous grigne and great looking crumb - I feel all inspired by you :)

EMatters said...

I'm so pleased that you made this loaf because the ingredients are a tad unusual and although it piques the interest, too often it makes something a 'someday' rather than 'near time' bake. I like it and think it's a good foil for a number of sandwiches, including nut spreads and anything with mustard or good pickles.

*awaits results of taste test with some apprehension*

Suelle said...

I'm waiting to see what you thought of the flavour. It looks such an unusual recipe, but I love rye and caraway anyway, so I'm sure I'd like your version!

underthebluegumtree said...

I am very envious. That is a fine looking loaf and mine looked..well..a bit odd! I think you did the right thing missing off the sunflower seeds.It looks so much better the way you have it with just a dusting of flour.

Anne said...

I am really intrigued by your loaf, its a combination I would not think up, ever! Whilst loving using up most herbs, and seeds for some reason I've never knowingly cooked with caraway hmm. Might have to start small and see from there!

So glad it worked out well after your hesitations! What did you eat it with? Am thinking soup..

EMatters said...

I enjoyed your process photographs and think that other people who are attempting this for the first time will find it reassuring to know that the dough and mix genuinely do look like this at various stages.

I've included your helpful write-up in: ShortandTweet 22: Flavourful and colourful breads.

@ AnneS I've made some suggestions for toppings and spreads for the black bread. It's rather startling with caramelised carrot soup but it's a good combination.

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

It looks amazing. I really must take more time to make bread again and I don't know how many times I have said it, but I must buy this book :)

Choclette said...

C, this bread looks amazing. Such an interesting mix of ingredients. I quite like caraway, but prefer to have only a small scattering of seeds as it is quite powerful. I really like your picture of the white top and black slashed centre. Another challenge I could have joined in, if only I'd been more organised - I seem to be getting worse.

Caroline said...

Jo - I'm very flattered that you feel inspired by me - I'm often inspired by you! I was really pleased with the way this baked, I just need to learn to love caraway!

EMatters - yes, they are unusual ingredients, but that's sort of to be expected with a DL recipe! I'll have to try this with soft cheese, I don't think the hard cheese I chose did it any favours!

Suelle - if you like rye and caraway I'm sure you'd love this. The rye isn't really obvious, but the caraway is :-)

underthebluegumtree - I think your loaf looks lovely, and not odd at all. I have to admit I was pleased with the contrast of the white flour and dark bread here though!

Anne - Yes, Dan is known for slightly odd sounding but great tasting combinations of ingredients! I had cheese sandwiches but as EMatters says, soup would be great too.

EMatters - I am trying to do more 'process' posts, especially when I have no recipe to write out, just to add interest! I find it helpful on other people's blogs, so it stands to reason that they might find it helpful on mine. I'm glad you liked it. Thanks for including me in your great round up.

Jac - I enjoy breadmaking, but it must be more difficult with your many other commitments - I don't have a small toddler to look after too! Yes, I would encourage people to buy the book, but there are plenty of the recipes on the Guardian website if you want to try-before-you-buy!

Choclette - it is definitely a visual stunner. I wish I had known how powerful the seeds are! I thought of you as I made this with the cocoa powder, and wondered if you would make it too!

Baking Addict said...

Thank you so much for entering this to AlphaBakes. A brilliant entry! The flavour combination certainly sounds interesting and probably not one I would try but from your tasting notes, I wouldn't mind trying a slice!


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