Does anyone know exactly what makes a bread a "Russian Black Bread"? Is it it the type of coloring agent used, or is it just a an extra dark pumpernickel?
Rye + molasses + malt. No more than 15% white flour. It comes out light brown and darkens over a few days.
What do you mean it darkens over a few days?
You pull it out of the oven, the crumb is light brown. Look at it in 3 - 4 days and it will be almost as dark as the crust.
how does something like that happen?
except for the Ukraine, virtually no wheat was grown in Russia before the mid 20th century, and so rye and buckwheat were the principal grains. I've baked 100% rye breads using only coarse rye meal and dark rye flour that have come out a deeper and richer brown -- almost black -- than any color-enhanced dough I've ever encountered.
if you do make a 100% dark rye, be prepared, however, for a hard, chewy, very rustic bread: this was not an "artisan" product, but a dietary staple that often accounted for more than 60% of daily caloric intake in the typical peasant diet.
the trick is creating a very robust rye sour and adding the flour in stages, allowing full fermentation after each addition of flour and water. total hydration should be somewhere in the 80-90% range. bake for an hour at 400 with lots of steam for the first 10 minutes, then lower the temp to 325 and bake for another 2-3 hours. brush the crust generously with boiling water when it comes out of the oven to soften it and don't cut the loaf for a couple of days to allow the rye crumb to stabilize.
i promise, you won't forget this taste.
"virtually no wheat was grown in Russia before the mid 20th century"
Wheat has been grown in Russia on a massive scale for quite a bit longer than that. In fact, some of our best wheats have Russian origins.
Which is where the Volga Germans were located. With the help of Catherine the Great a Bread basket was achieved in the late 1700's. She laid the wheat ground work to get it going in the 1760's.
But Stan does make it sound like there was no wheat in Russia. The Ukraine is a very large area. I would equate his statement to: There was virtually no wheat in North America except for the great planes. :)
Back to the subject of dark rye... Baked rye bread does darken as it ages. So does just about every grain. Look at Bulgar wheat for example, it started out much lighter raw, was steamed and then dried. It can be beautiful amber colors.
I believe most of it is light refraction. The grain becomes gel and achieves a translucent quality which in turn traps light rays and after they bang around a bit, we see them darker when the light rays hit our eyes. As the air dries the gelled grain in the bread and the chunks of grain become more translucent, so does the darker appearance of the color. Rye has the advantage of starting out with a darker color. Does that help?
but Volga lies entirely within Russian territory, never coming even close to Ukraine. At least that's what map tells me.
"Whereas the other peoples of Europe consume the major part of their best grain, the Poles retain only a small portion of their wheat and rye so that one might think they only harvest it for foreign lands. Thrifty nobles and bourgeois eat rye bread themselves, wheaten bread being only for the tables of the great lords. It is no exaggeration to say that a single town in other European states consumes more wheat than the whole realm of Poland." -- Fernand Braudel, The Structures of Everyday Life, pp 125-126
"A line drawn across European Russia, from Kieff to Nijni-Novgorod and Vyatka, will divide the country into two parts, of which the south-eastern has a surplus of wheat and rye and exports them, while the other has to import both.... If all the wheat and rye produced by Russia in an average year were consumed within the country itself, the annual consumption of wheat, which is now very low (85 lb. per inhabitant), would only be increased by 40 lb. per inhabitant; and that of rye, which is now 330 lb. per inhabitant, would be increased by 36 lb. only.... During the average years 1883-87 ... total yield reached on an average 81,100,000 quarters of rye, 27,014,000 of wheat ..." -- Chambers's Encyclopaedia, 1899 edition, IX:38-39.
One further point worth noting is that the Polish nobility dominated the Ukraine during the 16th and 17th centuries until the Cossack revolt under Bogdan Chmielnicki in the mid 1600s broke their hold. I'm assuming here that the Poles introduced ag-economic patterns that persisted in the Ukraine long after they were gone.
So let me amend my previous statement to say that between limited wheat cultivation throughout most of Russia and export of about one-third the wheat that was grown there, most of the population subsisted on rye and other grains.
I used to make this type of bread monthly before I learned I had to be gluten-free. I loved this bread, dark, rich and substantial. When I attempted gluten-free sourdough I based it on the 100% rye technique that I had mastered. It has worked extremely well after figuring out a few adjustments to manage the delicate nature of gluten free flours. I love my current breads but I sure do miss that taste you promised I wouldn't forget. I surely haven't!
It means different things to different people. To some it is a 100% rye, some would allow up to 15% of wheat. To others it is mostly wheat bread colored with cocoa, caramel coloring, coffee grounds and flavored with vinegar and shallots. In Russia itself, as I've been told, it may mean pretty much any rye bread.
Does anyone wish to share a recipe that they've made before? Ideally old world style and proven? Perhaps something that our grandparents generation would make if living in the region?
I would think the long fermentation and the Detmolder process is a main contributor to the color in additon to the points above (rye content, refraction). thank you...
which will have the more informed among you running for cover. However, memory informs me that one method of achieving the deep color of the bread was a very long, slow bake at low temperatures, thereby allowing Monsieur Maillard's reactions full range. In other words, the baker would place one last batch of bread in the oven at the end of the day, allowing it to bake all night in the cooling oven and producing that deep brown-black color without any added colorants.
Never having done anything like that myself, I can't vouch for the authenticity of the story (much less my memory). And it also begs the question of why it seems so much of the bread produced fell into the "black" category. That isn't consistent with the notion of an overnight bake of a single batch of bread from each day's production. I wonder if perhaps the descriptor "black bread" was attached to a bread that was really more a dark brown color. Peasants would certainly not have had access to cocoa, or coffee, or even caramelized sugar when something so readily available as meat was in many recorded instances a once a year indulgence.
I mean, he baked it all night afterall?!
Then described in terms of contrast. In other words, it wasn't called black bread unless it was compared to a wheat bread, then for sake of simplicity they became "white" and "black" even when their true colors are cream and brown. Put in some crusty rye altus and the bread gets darker. I'm sure slow baking caramelization is the natural coloring agent.
I'm also thinking that If 30 loaves of bread were to be slow baked, there might be a second way to keep the bread together after removing from the oven that would slow down the cooling process, like putting all the bread into one oven that was not so hot or stacking the bread above the oven between the oven and the rafters. Or maybe when all the bread had been baked for the day, the meat cooked, the bread was stacked maybe in layers back into the oven to be removed the next day as it cooled down slowly overnight. Just what was the normal baking schedule? Did they use several ovens and at different temperatures? Did they keep normal working hours?
Something I wish to add... Do you suppose the original reference "black" comes from the Black Sea? Location wise that would describe the bread from a large reagion, Russian would make it the northern area. Thus Black Russian Bread would be any bread from the area north of the Black Sea. We all know how much variety can come out of just a few ingredients.
I don't know if this is russian at all, but I sure have enjoyed Hamelman's Black Bread in the past
Do you have Hamelman's black bread formula, and could you share it please?
Here is Hamelman's recipe:
Starter (combine and let stand for 15-20 hours in a warm (85F/28C) place:
2T/1oz/30g Sourdough starter
6 cups/21oz/600g Rye flour
2¾ cups/22oz/625g Water
Soaker (let soak 12-18 hours at room temperature (68F/20C):
2½ cups/9oz/265g Rye flour
2½ cups/9oz/265g Cracked Rye or Rye grits
2¼ cups/18oz/525g Water
Dough (Mix well and let stand 15-30 min in a warm (85F/28C) place):
1/3 cup/2¾ oz/75g) Water
1½ tsp/1¼ oz/35g Salt
*Optional – Add 1 Tbs/½ oz/14g Active dry or instant yeast and allow to ferment 5-10 min
Scale and Shape, then roll in rye flour to coat
Proof in warm, draft-free location until first cracks appear in loaves, approximately 45 min (30 min if using yeast)
Bake in heavy steam at 550F/290C for 10 minutes and then open the oven door to allow the steam to escape and lower heat to 375F/190C for an additional two hours.
WOW!!! That's enough to feed an army!
I very much doubt that the term "black" bread has anything to do with the Black Sea. In Germany every bread can be called "Schwarzbrot" (black bread) that contains more rye than wheat, and therefore looks dark - but not really black.
Because I bake all kinds of European breads I looked for Russian bread recipes in the internet - but I found nothing but the one same recipe on several websites, a bread that contains coffee (certainly no authentic ingredient for a Russian bread).
Bye the way, when my husband travelled through Russia during the transition after the fall of the Wall, he found that Russian bread was the one thing that always tasted really good!
Black is just the Russian word for rye bread. There's white bread and black bread. That said, most (but not all) varieties of Russian rye bread have a pretty high rye-to-wheat ratio.
I spend a bunch of time trying to figure this out. I made various 'Black Bread' recipes, but never found anything that pleased me or seemed logical. I finally found one that used 'old bread' that was toasted to a dark, dark brown and added to the mix. This does cause the bread to be very dark. It also makes sense to me that Russian peasants would recycle old bits of bread. I toss ends of homemade breads in the freezer and when I have enough, I make this bread. I tried using prune lekvar instead of the molasses but it added a bitter taste.
In a large mixing bowl dissolve the espresso powder in the hot water. Stir in the molasses, yeast, ginger and bread crumbs. Allow to stand until the crumbs are soaked and soft, and the mixture is warm to the touch, about 20 minutes.
Add the rye and whole-wheat flour, butter and salt. Stir thoroughly by hand or with a mixer. Measure the white flour, ¼ cup at a time, and stir in until the dough is a rough, shaggy ball that can be lifted to the work surface.
Cover the dough with a cloth and let rest for about 15 minutes.
Knead until the dough is smooth, about 10 minutes. Early in the process it will be sticky (add sprinkles of flour) but gradually it will become more elastic (this can be done in the mixer with the dough hook if you wish).
Place the ball of dough in a bowl and pat with greased fingers to keep the surface from drying out. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until the dough is puffy to the touch and has risen to twice its original size. 1 ½ hours.
Turn the dough onto the floured work surface, knead out the bubbles, and cut into 2 pieces. Form each into a round ball. Let rest three minutes.
Press each ball into a long, flat oval under your palms or with a rolling pin. Double over and pound several times down the middle of the long piece with the edge of your hand. Fold over, seal and roll back and forth under your palms to fashion an 18"-long loaf. Repeat with the second piece.
Second rising: Cover lightly and leave to rise until double in size, 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Make three crossways slashes in the loaf and bake in the oven about 35 minutes or until the bottom crust yields a hard, hollow sound when tapped. The loaves will be crusty and a deep brown, almost black.
Remove the bread from the oven and cool on a metal rack. Freezes great.
I'm fine with molassses - it's the European equivalent to sugar beet syrup. But I never thought that Russian peasants even knew what Espresso was...
Lol certainly not! As for recycling old bread, I bet you there wasn't much left over to recycle. The bits that were left over, went in with the chicken/cattle feed, or into other foods such as kvas (fermented drink made with stale black bread). I've never ever heard of dried bread grounds to be added to dough for a new bread batch.
"I've never ever heard of dried bread grounds to be added to dough for a new bread batch."
Welcome to the world of old world bread!
Black Strap Molasses
Now that's really black bread. How wonderful!
My husband told me when he visited the SSR at the end of the soviet era in a trade mission, the wonderful Russian bread was the best food he had there (he doesn't like caviar and can't drink vodka).
When I was looking in the internet for recipes for Russian bread for my European bakery, I found in all websites (I didn't know TFL, then) only one and the same recipe - with all kinds of weird coloring ingredients like coffee, cocoa and other stuff. Those seemed so wrong to me that I never tried to add a Russian bread to my collection.
Karin , if you want , i can translate you recipe of really wonderful bread -dark, heavy, sweet-sour (from Russia or Lithuania too).
Loaf of this bread can use as a kind of weapon...:))
I would be delighted!
The color was coming primarily from molasses, if you follow the GOST. Did I miss something?
I've made the Ukranian Black Bread from The Laurel Kitchen Bread Book before.
Here's the recipe.
The color apparently comes from the molasses, coffee, and rye.
Where did peasants acquire malted barley? I don't mean the citizens of the former USSR, but their ancestors. Was it scorched leftover barley porridge, or what?
I have several types of malt left over from brewing beers years ago. One is called Black Barley, and is so darkened that it has no enzymatic activity left. Another is Chocolate Malt, which is browner than Crystal Malt. I wonder how they would taste in rye breads?
I'm not sure about malted barley (although barley as others have mentioned was, and is, one of the staple crops in Russia/Ukraine/Belarus and other parts of Eastern Europe) but the production process of malted red rye (which is widely used in Russian black breads) makes me think it may have originated from common sloppiness. To get red rye malt, the grain is sprouted, then stored in bulk for an x amount of time, this bulk generates internal heat so the sprouted grain begins to rot, then before it actually rots it's dried and milled. It sounds like once upon a time, someone had left a large amount of rye in a granary or pantry that was too warm and humid, the grain had sprouted and was beginning to rot. The sloppy peasant, on discovering that his stock has gone bad, could think of nothing better than try and use it anyway (because throwing away food would be madness). He dried the grain to stop it rotting further, then tried adding a little bit to bread and discovered it made bread taste better.
After all, they say leavened bread was discovered in the same kind of way - it went "bad" but they tried eating it anyway.
BUT I'm only speculating. I don't actually know.
I've been experimenting trying to make a reasonably authentic Borodinsky Bread. You can read about it here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/24237/celebrating-rye-breads I do hope you add a comment to this post, your knowledge would be very welcome.
I don't have much knowledge of Russian traditions, although I have been doing research throughout my experiments and have been helped along the way with guidance from TFL posters....many thanks to you all for this.
I cut out the sugar stipulated by GOST and used Black Strap Molasses at 6% on flour; I did this out of choice as I don't like using more refined sugars in baking unless I have to.
I did follow the full 3 stage process and have been given excellent guidance on the impact of the zavarkha process. I should add that I am a professional baker and have considerable experience of working with rye sourdough and other bread processes. I have also done a lot of homebrewing beer in a past life, so am conversant with the mash process too. I realise that the zavarkha gelatinises the starch, but it is also use as a "mash" to expose the sugars [saccharification] in the flour. However, I have a temperature issue. Starch gelatinisation will best be achieved at a temperature higher than those amylase enzymes are happy with. This must mean that the secondary saccharification, or, mash, is compromised somewhat. As you will see in the thread, TFL poster Faif has uncovered 3 different ways of carrying out zavarkha and I assume each method is to try and overcome this apparent contradiction. I wondered if you may care to comment on this as I'm sure you have valuable contribution to make.
Regarding colour, I would never use coffee etc., although I only ever make Rossisky and Borodinsky and suspect that "Black Bread" has become a generic term, much abused. As you say, these [Borodinsky, Rossisky and others] seem to be quite specific formula developed in Soviet times and known as the GOST standards. However there is a tradition that Borodinsky came as a celebration of the victory at the Battle of Borodino in 1812. So, it was born of a peasant tradition. I very much doubt that led to any hard and fast rules about the ingredients used, although I am sure that your average Russian peasant had no access to espresso coffee, or instant coffee granules! Apparently it was known as the "Prince of Breads", so I assume higher quality ingredients were used wherever possible; a finer grade of rye flour plus malt and coriander are the materials I understand to be the key themes to this bread.
I wanted to comment on the use of malt. I am UK based and have recently sourced "Red Malt" powder which I am really impressed with. Previously I have used Barley Malt Extract as a syrup. This is ok, but nothing like as good as the red malt. The UK product is made from barley. It seems from your post that you use barley too. But I believe the red malt listed as used in Russia is sourced from Rye , not Barley. Do you know if this is correct?
Lastly, and most importantly, I wanted to say that your bread is outstanding, thank you for posting all the detail you have given on this thread.
I found this page describing the relation between the two colorimetric systems used for rating malt: EBC and SRM (roughly equivalent to LOVIBOND).
In short LOV can be approximated with EBC/2, or EBC=LOV*2, so my crystal 200 EBC approximates to LOV 100... sadly!
prewiously, I would search for Finnish or German rye mat and malt extract- no any molassa or espresso coffee use for make really dark Russian-style bread .
Second, brewing (I can't translate exactle a term) a third of rye flour with hot water (80 C) and holding during a few hours at 65C - this is a old and known method of Russian traditional rye bread making .
You mean a mash ("Brühstück" in German), I use it for making Vollkornbrot and some other European breads. It helps preventing breads containing coarse grinds of grains from being too brittle, and, also, improves the taste.
Karin, i found in" Zauerteig" forum a term "scalded soaking' . And, yes, I think it's same process and same product.
In case of Russian dark bread - we make this brühstück with rye flour ( not grind coarsed), rye malt and very hot water. During 3-4 hours in 65C starches in rye partially converted in sugars that give dark brown color of ready bread (this is a difference with Pumpernickel bread - that caramelized during long-time baking).
And for this bread we have to add only rye malt- not barley!
I use Peter Reinhart's method to make a mash/scald for Vollkornbrot with a coarser grind of rye (but with barley malt) in 165 F/74 C hot water, and then keeping the mixture for 3 hours at 150 F/66 C warm (in the oven).
This (now it comes:) "keeps the natural alpha-amylase enzymes in the flour intact, allowing them to break smaller sugar chains out of the more complex starch. The hot water partially gelatinizes the starches and also denatures the beta-amylase enzymes, which have a lower threshold for heat. The beta-amylase enzymes are the ones that can reduce a dough to mush as they break off double glucose units, or maltose. The most noticeable aspect of a mash is that it tastes much sweeter after 3 hours than it did when the ingredients were first combined."
No matter what the wonders of chemistry of this are, they work really well, because the bread tastes very good. For something like Tyrolean rolls from Vinschgau that require only a small amount of scald I just take 50 C/122 F hot water, pour it over the whole rye flour and let it soak for several hours (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/keyword/vinschgauer-bread)
Yes, I completely agree with this description.
Recently,in my last batches of wheat bread I used this liquid
It make my wheat bread darker and iIt does not add any bitterness to taste. I recommend to try it.