On a cold winter day I woke up knowing it was a bread-making day. I am not a fan of white bread and am honestly a bit bored with whole-wheat bread. There was nothing left for me to do but experiment. So a bit of this, a bit of that, and several memories from the thousands of recipes I have read over the years resulted in this soft, dark, savory bread. The ingredients are a bit unusual, but so be it. Part of the flour contribution is rye, but yet this doesn’t taste like rye bread. Infact my husband bit into a slice expecting rye and was surprised it didn’t taste like rye bread one bit. The mystery continues. Now many of you will read the spice list: caraway and fennel, and move on. Don’t panic and give up on this bread. The seeds are ground so you don’t see them. Combined with the other ingredients there is no sharp tang from the caraway and no licorice flavor from the fennel. They magically work to make this delicious flavor. Someone asked if the bread had citrus in it. Nope. The guessing continued. Nope. Nope. Nope. Make the bread and give it a chance. Delicious is what it is. The bread is good just as it is, but toasted with a bit of cream cheese and it is heavenly. Now I just need a name with this bread.
This recipe makes one large loaf.
½ cup warm water
3-tablespoons molasses (Honey may be substituted.)
3-tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1½-cup rye flour
1¾-cup all-purpose flour
1-teaspoon fennel seed
2-tablespoons vegetable oil
2 -teaspoons active dry yeast (Be sure to measure.)
In a large bowl add the warm coffee, water, and vegetable oil. Add the molasses and cocoa and sir. Add the yeast. Stir and allow to rest 3 minutes. In a coffee grinder, or like me, with a zipper bag and rolling pin, grind the salt and caraway and fennel together. The salt actually helps grind the other spices. Add the spices to the liquid mixture. Add the rye flour and stir thoroughly. Add enough all-purpose flour to make a soft batter. Pour out on a floured space and work in the remaining flour. Knead the dough 5 minutes until it is soft and smooth, like play-dough. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft-free spot. I like to warm my oven to 170˚ and turn it off at the start of my mixing. It is then the prefect spot to rest the dough while it rises. The dough will double (or nearly double) after an hour. Place the dough on a floured, warm* surface. Roll the dough out to approximately a 12 x 8 rectangle. Roll up tightly and tuck the ends under to form your load shape. Roll the dough several times to even it out. Be sure to pinch any seams tightly. Place the dough in a warm* loaf pan (8” x 5” at the base) you have sprayed with cooking spray. Cover and allow the bread to raise 5- – 60 minutes. The dough should rise up above the edge of your loaf pan. Bake in a preheated 375˚ oven for about 30 minutes. The bread will be browned and will sound hollow when tapped. Turn off your oven and pull out the oven rack your loaf pan is on halfway. Rub a tablespoon of butter over the crust. Allow to rest here 10 minutes. Remove the bread to a cooling rack and cool completely before slicing.
* I always warm the surface if I am using for kneading the bread before I place my dough on it. I also warm the loaf pan before setting the dough for its last rise.