We're halfway through the loaf I baked yesterday, after a midnight snack with beers when we arrived yesterday, and now our lazy morning (or, uhmmm, afternoon) Brotzeit. And it is good - a hearty, dark loaf, but with a soft, sweet chew; it is the perfect bread to get us through our mountain weekend, and has in fact become my go-to bread for such weekends. It works well for both sandwiches and toast, and with the addition of molasses, carrots, coffee, cocoa, and caraway seeds, this bread is something a little different (dare I say "special"?) from your normal everyday bread.
Black Molasses and Carrot Bread
Adapted from Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks
This is a yeasted bread, so it does take some time. Most of it is passive time though- there are only a few bouts of active time at the beginning - yes, a good 5 minute knead is involved - and in the middle of the two rise cycles.
one package active dry yeast
300 ml warm water (105 - 115F)
1 teaspoon natural cane sugar / brown sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 shot espresso or coffee
1/4 cup (70 ml) molasses
4 teaspoons caraway seeds, plus more for topping
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
2 cups (150 g) grated carrot (approximately 2 large)
1 1/3 cups (150 g) spelt flour
3 1/4 cup (425 g) white flour, plus more for kneading
olive oil for kneading and oiling baking pan
2 tablespoons buttermilk or milk
1. In a small bowl whisk the yeast with the warm water and sugar, and set aside until foamy. You need to make sure the yeast activates- if it doesn't, start over.
2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the cocoa, espresso, molasses, caraway, butter, and salt, until just melted. Remove from stove and let cool slightly.
3. Combine the yeast mixture with the grated carrot and molasses mixture in a large mixing bowl. Add the flours, and stir until you've got a soft, tacky, cohesive dough.
4. Liberally flour the counter, and remove your dough ball from the bowl and start kneading - you will probably need a lot of flour. Every time the dough starts to get too sticky, sprinkle some more flour on the dough/counter. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is elastic and springy. Note: you can do this step using the dough hook on your mixer- I wish I had one!
5. Shape the dough into a ball, rub with a bit of olive oil, and place seam-side down into an oiled bowl.
6. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for approximately 2 hours or until the dough increases in size by at least half.
7. After two hours, gently press down on the dough, deflating it slightly. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter, and coerce into a round.
8. Drop the dough into an oiled dutch oven (the heavy kind for cooking roasts, with a lid), then cover loosely with a floured tea cloth or plastic wrap.
9. Leave the dough to rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, another couple hours.
10. Uncover, brush gently with buttermilk, 2 teaspoon caraway seeds, and coarse sea salt.
11. Put the lid on the dutch oven, and bake the bread for 20 minutes at 425F / 220C.
12. Dial back the heat to 350F / 180C, remove the lid, and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the loaf develops a toasted crust, and the loaf sounds a bit hollow when you knock on it.
13. Remove from oven and let cool on the counter (remove the loaf from the dutch oven pan) for at least 15 minutes before slicing into it.