Back in September my husband and I were traveling through Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We stopped at a small cafe, I can’t remember the name now, and had lunch. It was memorable for two reasons, it was the first time we experienced Turkish coffee, which was amazing! We definitely want to do that again. And, we had sandwiches made on this incredibly flavorful pumpernickel bread. My hubby exclaimed, to a bit of my surprise, that he loves pumpernickel bread so, of course, I said “I will make you some when we get back home.” That was six months ago! Now, it does not take half a year to make this bread, you really only need about three hours. But life got busy, as it often does, we were traveling quite a bit and I wanted to take the time to research a bit about the proper flour to use for the best flavor. I settled on King Arthur’s pumpernickel flour blend. King Arthur is often my go to flour source, and I placed an online order for one of their 3 pound bags.



My next quest was to find a recipe that looked amazing and was simple enough to use in my home kitchen. A number of formulas I found were more suited to industrial kitchens and large production output. I just wanted one or two loaves. I found this recipe for Russian Black Bread on the King Arthur website. It appeared that it would be extremely flavorful from the list of ingredients that included 1 cup of pumpernickel flour, 2 cups of bread flour, molasses, brown sugar, fennel seeds, dark cocoa powder and instant espresso! I had to try this one!

This recipe is for one loaf and I decided to make two loaves, a regular bread loaf and a boule. I did not double the formula but instead chose to make two separate recipes. I did this because bread baking is not like making cookies or cakes. The flour is not incorporated all at once. A portion is held out and slowly added during the kneading process and may or may not be necessary. The dough has to be checked multiple times throughout the incorporation stage and adjusted accordingly. Also, shaping a boule is different than shaping a loaf so I wanted these events to be independent of one another.

The dough is straight forward, you add all the ingredients and withhold 1 cup of bread flour for the kneading steps.


I added all the ingredients, with the addition of the temperature controlled water as the last step. I should note that I did not have black cocoa powder as was called for in the recipe, instead I substituted dark cocoa powder, so my bread is not as black as the original recipe-still tasted wonderful!


Using a dough whisk, it all came together into a soft ball


The dough was turned out onto a countertop that was dusted with a portion of the final cup of flour and kneaded by hand for ~7 minutes until about 2/3 c of the reserved flour was incorporated

I repeated this process for the second loaf. The dough was allowed to ferment for 80 minutes until it doubled in size.


Once the bread had doubled in volume it was time to shape and pan the dough. I used a conventional 9 X 5 rectangular pan and a brotform basket to shape and pattern the boule. One key element to using a brotform is to make sure the bowl is heavily floured so that the proofed loaf will release onto the baking stone or pan. I used the pumpernickel flour for dusting.


Both loaves were shaped and allowed to proof for an additional 90 minutes. Afterward, they were scored.


I made four, deep, angular cuts on the loaf and the pan went into the oven, centered directly on the rack.


For the boule, I turned the brotform bowl out onto a baking pan that was dusted with semolina flour. This made the loaf easy to slide off onto the baking stone which was on the oven rack and preheated. I made circular cuts around the pattern made by the bowl structure.

The loaves baked at 375°F for 35 minutes, until they sounded hollow when tapped on the bottom.


I used a pizza peel to remove the boule from the oven and both loaves were allowed to cool on a baking rack

Then it was time to take some pictures and eat!














My favorite way to eat this bread is a sandwich with ham, mustard, spinach, swiss and cheddar cheese!



Enjoy this one!

Russian Black Bread

  • Servings: 1 loaf, 16 slices
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Fennel seeds and vinegar combine to give this bread its distinctive, pumpernickel flavor

Credit:King Arthur Flour


-1 1/8 cups temperature controlled water, 80-100°F

-2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

-1 cup pumpernickel or rye flour, plus more for dusting

-1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

-2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

-2 Tablespoons molasses

-1 Tablespoon brown sugar

-3 Tablespoons black cocoa

-1 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee powder

-1/4 to 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, to taste

-1 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast

-2 1/2 cups Bread flour, divided


  1. Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl, reserving 1 cup of the bread flour. Mix until a sticky dough begins to form.
  2. Mix in the remaining cup of flour and knead for 7 minutes, or until the dough becomes soft and elastic, but may still be somewhat sticky to the touch. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until doubled, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. After the first rise, shape the dough into an oblong loaf. Place in a greased 9″ x 5″ or 10″ x 5″ bread pan, cover with greased plastic, and let rise until almost doubled, about 60 to 90 minutes. Alternatively shape the dough into a round form and place in a heavily floured brotform basket and allow to proof to make a boule loaf. 
  4. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F. When the dough has almost doubled, brush or spray the top with water, dust with pumpernickel or rye flour, and score (slash) the top.
  5. Bake the bread for about 35 minutes, until it sounds hollow when you thump the bottom, or the inside measures 205°F on a digital thermometer. Remove the loaf from the oven and cool it on a rack before slicing.
  6. Store bread well wrapped at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.









5 thoughts on “Russian Black Bread

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