Black Bread

black bread martha bakes
Photo: Mike Krautter
2 loaves

Three types of flour go into these hearty loaves: whole-wheat, bread, and rye. Cocoa and coffee add color and depth of flavor.


  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee

  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water (100 to 110 degrees)

  • ¼ cup unsulfured molasses

  • 5 teaspoons active dry yeast (not rapid-rise)

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 4 ½ cups whole-wheat bread flour

  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached bread flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1 ¼ cups rye flour

  • 2 tablespoons sifted Dutch-process cocoa powder

  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt

  • Vegetable oil, for bowl and plastic wrap

  • Coarse cornmeal, for dusting

  • 1 large egg white, slightly beaten

  • 2 cups boiling water


  1. In a small bowl, dissolve coffee in 1/4 cup warm water. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine remaining 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water and molasses. Sprinkle yeast over top, stir, and let stand 5 minutes.

  2. Add honey, flours, cocoa, and salt to yeast mixture. Attach bowl to stand mixer fitted the dough-hook attachment and beat on low speed 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-low and beat until dough is smooth and slightly tacky, about 3 minutes (or knead by hand 15 to 20 minutes).

  3. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface; knead by hand, turning dough over, 4 to 5 times before shaping into a ball. Transfer dough, smooth-side up, to a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Set one half aside, loosely covered with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Shape remaining half into a 9-inch rectangle, with a short side parallel to work surface. Fold top third of dough towards center, then fold bottom third of dough on top, pressing gently to seal. Turn dough 90 degrees and repeat folding process, pinching seam and sides closed. Place seam-side down and roll dough back and forth with palms of hands to form a loaf about 12 inches long with tapered ends. Repeat shaping process with remaining half of dough. Sprinkle a clean cotton cloth with cornmeal and place loaves on top, spacing about 6 inches apart. Loosely cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place 45 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees, with a pizza stone on rack in lower third and a skillet or baking pan on lowest rack, 30 minutes. Transfer loaves to a pizza peel or unrimmed baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Brush tops with egg white. Using a lame (baker?s blade), razor blade, or serrated knife, make four diagonal cuts, 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep, across each loaf. Slide loaves from peel onto stone. If not using a stone, slide loaves onto a parchment-lined baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Quickly pour boiling water into preheated skillet to create steam. Bake until loaves are dark brown and hollow-sounding when tapped on bottoms, about 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer loaves to a wire rack; let cool completely.

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