Inspiration for this bread came from the dark chocolate bread I had at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. I made the chocolate cherry rolls in my first attempt. I want to bake a darker, crustier levain bread. Jeffrey Hamelman’s black bread is yet another attempt along this journey to make a deeply flavorful, black and chocolaty bread that you can serve as a dessert bread without adding any sweetener in the dough.
The black bread dough stands out in several ways: 60% in rye flour, an old-bread soaker and ground coffee. Besides, Hamelman named it the black bread in his book Bread. I set out to bake the darkest black bread!
First, the sourdough is made with mature sourdough culture and medium rye flour. That takes between 14-16 hours for the sourdough to ripen. Meanwhile, make the old-bread soaker by combining old bread (with the crust), ground coffee, vegetable oil and hot water. The final dough is mixed by combining the sourdough, all of the soaker, rye flour, bread flour, salt and yeast in a stand mixer. No water is needed. All the water comes from the sourdough and the soaker. (One change I’ve made to the original recipe: I folded in the chocolate chips and dried cherries at 15 minutes into bulk fermentation.) The high percentage of rye flour and the addition of commercial yeast shortens bulk fermentation to 30-45 minutes. This is very fast in the world of dough development. The final fermentation takes another hour. I almost couldn’t believe the loaves are ready for baking within two hours after the dough is mixed.
Without a question, this is distinctly and boldly a rye bread, given that 60% of total flour weight is in rye flour. (Rye flour is higher in bran and fiber than wheat.) It has a very different characteristic than our everyday bread, made with mostly white wheat flour. This black bread is very moist with a soft crumb. The nutritional profile and keeping quality is supposedly superior due to the high percentage in rye. Imagine taking this nutritious rye bread on a week-long hike in the wilderness; it’d still taste good and supple at the end of the week! This could have been a perfect bread if my expectation is a little different. This plays into my not-so-perfect mind that the black bread is nothing like what I was inspired to bake.
|My source of inspiration|