The Fresh Loaf

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Aunt Jane's Sour Black Bread

earthygirl's picture

Aunt Jane's Sour Black Bread


Aunt Jane's Sour Black Bread Well I finally decided to attempt making this.   I finally managed to get the recipe from my Aunt Jane.  Although we are not related by blood, I have always known her as my Aunt Jane and spent the most wonderful times at her farm in NJ.   Though she is unable to do the kneading now, (she's 83, legally blind now and not as strong as she used to be) she still enjoys baking.  My uncle Ullar is now her hands.   My Aunt and Uncle are from Estonia.  I have fond memories of helping my Aunt and her mother, tante', bake from the time I was 6 or so.  We would spend hour’s just talking and kneading dough or peeling apples, or rolling up her WONDERFUL sugar crescents. (Yes I am getting more recipes).  "sigh"....back to reality now  This bread is very dense.  The following recipe makes approximately 5 loaves.  My Aunt Always bakes in bulk; she also told me that this bread freezes wonderfully.  I have done my best at transcribing this recipe as you will see she is a "handful of this and that" type baker.Aunt Jane's Sour Black BreadIngredientsStarter day 1  2 “handfuls” or 5.4 ounces of *Rye Flour 350 ml warm waterStarter day 2  One more “handful” of *Rye FlourPre Dough (for lack of a better term)All of starter7 to 8 cups of warm water5 lbs *Rye flour8tsp sugar8tsp saltDoughAll of Pre dough

2T yeast**

2 lbs or more of APFDay 1 StarterA REALLY BIG bowl In a 2 qt container put two "handfuls" of *Rye flour.  My 2 handfuls weighed app. 5.4 ounces.

Add enough water to make a "loose" batter, for me that was 350ml of water.  Cover with a damp cloth and let sit overnight in a warm place. 





Gotta Love Pickle Jars

Day 2 Starter







So, on day 2 my starter looked like this.  Add in another handful of rye flour and stir.  Put back in warm place for another 24 hours.   Day 3 do nothing.  Now at this point her recipe varies.  My Uncle Ullar, Likes his bread very sour.   So he waits an additional day before making his pre dough.  I started mine on day 4.

Pre Dough

So I mixed my starter with the 8 cups of warm water then added the 5 pounds of *rye flour.  This will take some doing.  I finally gave up on the spoon and dug in with my mitts.  After mixing, add your sugar then salt and mix again.  Yep, it looks like heavy sludge.  Put it all in a bowl and covered with a towel then back in the proofer overnight.  My Aunt makes her final dough in the morning.  My Uncle waits a while, as did I. 


After 24 or so hours, I heavily floured my flour bench, got out my handy scraper and went to work.  For those of you with industrial size mixers (mines only a 6 qt) this should be a breeze.

**Now, the 2 tablespoons of yeast needs to be mixed in with the pre dough then add your flour.  I used instant yeast so I mixed it into my initial 2 pounds of flour and kneaded it in that way.  Kneading time was 10 minutes, when I finally had added enough flour to make an elastic dough.

Place in greased bowl and let rise for 1 ½ hours.  Punch down, fold and load into greased and floured pans. (Okay, I didn’t flour my pans)  Let rise until doubled that was around 1 ½ hrs for me.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 1 hour 15 minutes.  The outside is very crispy and the bread is dense and you can taste the sour in it.  It brings back wonderful memories.

*The only flour that she has found in the states that works with this recipe is Hodgson Mill Whole Grain Rye flour

dulke's picture

I just want to check - the APF is all-purpose flour? So this is a predominately rye flour bread, but it does have some wheat flour in it? Much of the technique is similar to at least one style of Lithuanian black bread, except we use no wheat flour at all - I'm still trying to work that out, as I just love that type of bread.

EsmereldaPea's picture

Labas! Dulke -

I just saw your post about your attempts to make Lithuanian rye.  I found a recipe years ago online for Latvian rye using apple cider that I have modified that works quite well.  I'm sure I will continue to tweak it as I go along. One of the key changes I made was that the recipe called for yeast, yet I am a purist, so I use only my wild starter.

Do you have any Lithuanian rye bread recipes you'd care to share?

 My grandmother was also "a handful of this and a pinch of that" type of cook/baker according to my mom, and Mom never really learned her recipes.  Grandma lived in a different state, so I didn't have the privilege of learning from her, and none of her recipes have made it to the 21st century.  I just lost my mother last month - she loved my baking, so it has been hard to get back to it, but I baked today for the first time since.

 I make a mean Aguonu Pyragas (Poppyseed Roll).  Another recipe I found online and tweaked so that it tasted more like grandma's. 




earthygirl's picture

Yes it is All Pupoose flour.  Just the way m Aunt makes it.  it is EXtremely dense

KipperCat's picture

It sounds like you have wonderful memories.  I'm glad you're getting the recipes.  I like playing with my food, but I can't imagine kneading 7 pounds of mostly rye by hand!

earthygirl's picture

Its a great time to vent ;)