minutes per mile blog

carb-tastic chronicles part IV: russian black bread

How about an afternoon slice of bread?black_russian_bread_DSC0159So this week (and last week) I tested out a recipe for Russian Black Bread. Anthony’s mom — quite the master bread-maker — recommended it to me and I was immediately curious to try it out!

The ingredient lineup is pretty peculiar: fennel seeds, cocoa powder, coffee grounds, and corn syrup? I had to give it a shot.

My first loaf turned out okay, but not nearly as fluffy as it should have been.black_russian_bread_DSC0023See that big sink hole in the center? A non-rising loaf can result from a variety of factors — this time, I’m blaming it on the cup of whole wheat flour I subbed in for white flour, made worse by the fact that I didn’t add a tablespoon of the ever-magical vital wheat gluten.black_russian_bread_DSC0016Despite this loaf’s deformed and dense features, its flavor was spot on!black_russian_bread_DSC0018The pinch of fennel and coffee really came through — in a bitter, but not overly bitter way.

So. After we downed that loaf (as in, at it, not threw it away… I would NEVER trash a slice of bread) I decided to give the recipe another go this week — with the strategic addition of a tablespoon of vital wheat gluten.

And look how tall and proud my loaf turned out!black_russian_bread_DSC0157This baby rose to the top of the bread maker, puffing out over the sides. A little dip in the center, but not too bad at all!black_russian_bread_DSC0152FYI, this loaf still has a cup of whole wheat subbed in — I’m determined to get at least 3/4 a cup in all my loaves to make them heartier and healthier.black_russian_bread_DSC0164The flavor is awesome! Sort of an herby-rye-pumpernickle taste. Great with eggs or on savory turkey sandwiches.

Darn, now I want a sandwich.

Last comparison of textures. Non-vital wheat gluten loaf has fewer air bubbles which are bigger in size — and crusts almost too firm to cut! Also much darker in color which I’m accrediting to the smaller surface area (i.e., the coffee and cocoa couldn’t spread out throughout the loaf)… plus the fact that I took these photos in late afternoon light.black_russian_bread_DSC0023vs. vital wheat gluten loaf, with more air bubbles smaller in size. Cuttable crusts and a lighter color (photographed in morning light).black_russian_bread_DSC0159Well, that was a fun experiment.

What type of bread should I try next?