Black Bread

Living in Lithuania, we ate a lot of dark rye bread, as it was extremely common. You’d have it for breakfast with cheese and salami, you’d have it as a beer snack, cut in sticks and fried, with fresh garlic and salt rubbed on it, you’d put butter on it and make sandwiches. It was dense and heavy and smelled of caraway and molasses.

You can find this kind of bread here in Portland sometimes, but not anywhere we typically go for groceries, and so when a friend of ours who happens to have a Russian husband posted that she tried this recipe from Smitten Kitchen and it turned out brilliantly, I had to give it a go.

As with any bread, it’s a time-consuming process, but well worth it if you like a good dark rye bread. It turned out wonderfully, the best bread I’ve made so far. This recipe makes 2 loaves.

Ingredients

  • 2 packages (1 1/2 tablespoons) active dry yeast
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F, 40 to 45 C)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ounce (about 29 grams) unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3 cups medium rye flour
  • 3 cups unbleached, all-purpose or bread flour
  • 1 cup bran
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine yeast and sugar with warm water. Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Heat two cups water, molasses, vinegar, butter and chocolate until the butter and chocolate are melted. Set aside.
  3. Combine whole-wheat, rye and white flours in a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine two cups mixed flours, bran, 2 tablespoons caraway seeds, fennel seeds, salt, espresso and shallots. Add yeast and chocolate mixtures in small amounts while mixing with a wooden spoon or bread hook. Mix until smooth and beat for three minutes. (If you don’t like whole seeds in your bread, grinding them in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle allows their flavor to come through without the texture. I left them whole)
  5. Add half cup of remaining mixed flours at a time, mixing until dough becomes cohesive and starts to pull away from the sides of bowl. It will be very sticky but firm.
  6. Scrape dough off spoon or bread hook, flour counter well, and knead to make a springy yet dense dough. You might not use all of the flour mixture.
  7. 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.
  8. Gently deflate dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into two portions and form into two rounds. Place rounds 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 with knife or razor blade.
  9. Bake in a preheated 350°F (177 C) 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.
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Chocolate Lava Cake

Last night being Halloween, we decided some sweets were in order, but seeing as nobody comes to our door anyway, we’re more interested in making them for ourselves, so we decided to make this recipe from Lulu at BikeyFace. It’s a very simple recipe, it turned out deliciously, and it’s perfect for two people (or one, if you *really* like chocolate).  

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. Bittersweet or Semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 full egg, plus one yolk
  • 3 tbsp flour

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F (218 C).
  2. Butter two 7-8 oz. ramekins, and set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan over low to medium heat, or in a bowl in the microwave, melt the butter and chocolate, whisking until it is smooth with no lumps.
  4. Mix chocolate/butter mixture together with powdered sugar, and whisk until well-blended.
  5. In a small bowl, beat the egg + yolk, then mix it into the sugar/chocolate/butter mixture. Whisk until well-blended.
  6. Add flour to the mixture, and again, whisk until batter is smooth.
  7. Divide the batter between the two ramekins, and place in the oven for about 13-14 minutes, until the outside is solid, but the inside is still very liquidy – look for the center to be slightly depressed, and looking like it has just formed a thin crust over it. Exact times will vary based on a gazillion factors, so just watch it and remove when you feel it’s done (in our oven, it was perfect after 13 minutes on the middle rack).
  8. Let sit for a minute or two, and then dig in (carefully, as the middle will still be piping hot – and gooey and delicious!). Goes perfectly with ice-cream, or just a cold glass of milk.

Chocolate Lava Cake

Chocolate Lava Cake

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

This comes from this recipe, with very few modifications – and is really our perfect ideal chocolate chip cookie. Easy too. This recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups (12 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. smallish-medium coarse sea salt (if you only have table salt, use about 3/4 tsp)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 150 grams baking chocolate, smashed to bits

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 360 F (182 C).
  2. With a hand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until somewhat fluffy.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla extract and beat for another minute or two.
  4. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour, and incorporate with a fork (it’s easier with a fork, as the mixer will tend to fling powder all over the place).
  5. Once the dry ingredients are fully absorbed into the dough, add the bits of chocolate, and mix them by hand into the dough so they are well-distributed.
  6. The dough should be fairly thick at this point.
  7. Take a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper, or a silpat mat
  8. Make 1 1/2-2 inch balls of dough, placing them about 2-3 inches apart on the baking sheet.
  9. Pop the cookies in the oven, and let them bake about 12 minutes, until just starting to brown, then remove from oven and let them sit on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.
  10. Repeat steps 8 and 9 until the dough is all used up.
  11. Make sure to have some good milk on hand :)

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