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Brewer Burns

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Black Bread 6/5/05

I bought my newest Moosewood Cookbook, Sundays at the Moosewood Restaurant, several months ago. Ever since then I've been itching to try the black bread recipe.

Let me explain. I love baking bread. I love proofing the yeast, waiting for it to foam, mixing together the ingredients, kneading the dough, waiting for it to rise. All of it. But it takes a serious block of time to accomplish when you're making the bread completely by hand. I usually set aside at least four hours for the endeavor. Of course, most of that time is actually spent waiting for the dough to rise.

The black bread recipe is even more time consuming and ingredient intensive than most. First you have to boil two medium potatoes, then mash them, then melt together unsweetened baker's chocolate and butter in a small saucepan. Then you mix the butter/chocolate mixture into the mashed potatoes. Then the yeast must be proofed and then added to the mix. Then you add the cinnamon, nutmeg, caraway seeds, and molasses, then the rye flour, wheat flour and white flour. Oh and I forgot that you have to reserve a cup of the water used for boiling the potatoes and add that to the mix as well. All in all it took me probably an hour to prepare the initial dough to the point that it was ready to be kneaded and then put up for the first rise. Which is why I had not made the bread before this weekend. Besides the fact that I generally don't have a stash of unsweetened baker's chocolate hanging out in my cupboard I don't have that amount of time to devote to making a loaf of bread.

But finally I did. On Sunday. And it is beautiful. I made one large loaf so that I could use it to make sandwiches for lunch this week, instead of the two smaller loaves that the recipe calls for. This means that the loaf is huge and a little misshapen but still perfect for the open faced sandwiches we've been having for lunch all week. The bread itself is very dark brown, darker even than a dark rye bread. And it's taste is strong and varied. The smell of the nutmeg, cinnamon and caraway seeds is what you notice first. They add a tangy spicy sweetness. Then the unsweetened chocolate and the strong taste of the rye takes over. It is strong and sharp and little bitter. Then it finishes sweet. But it's a strong, syrupy, thick, sweetness, like the molasses that creates the flavor. I am extremely pleased with it. Next time I'm going to make two smaller loaves though so that it is a little easier to maneuver. Seriously, the loaf is taking over one side of my counter right now.

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