Estonian Black Bread

I have been to Estonia a few times and one of the most memorable things I have eaten has to be their black bread.  Every restaurant, bakery and household has their own “secret” to Estonian black bread.  It is rather a sacred practice so I cannot call this recipe authentic Estonian black bread but the taste comes pretty close to it.

This bread does take much longer to rise than your normal breads, but the taste is so worth it.  Wonderful with soups or lightly toasted with a slice of mature cheddar.


You’ll need

  • 280ml x lukewarm water
  • 2 Tbsp x apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup rye flour, plus more for dusting on top
  • 1¼ x tsp salt
  • 2 x Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 x Tbsp molasses
  • 1 x Tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 x Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 x tsp espresso powder
  • 1 x tsp teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 x tsp instant yeast
  • 2 ½ x cups bread/all purpose flour


  1. Attach the dough hook to your electrical mixer and place the following ingredients in its bowl. Rye flour, salt, brown sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, fennel seeds, instant yeast and 1½ cups of flour. On a slow speed, mix to incorporate.
  2. Now add your water, apple cider vinegar, unsalted butter and molasses.
  3. Mix to make a thick batter-like dough. The dough will be on the wettish side, but it will come together when you add the last cup of flour.
  4. Mix in the remaining cup of flour until the dough becomes soft and elastic, about 7 minutes.
  5. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  6. After the first rise, shape the dough into an oblong loaf. Place in a greased 23 x 12 bread pan, cover with greased plastic, and let rise until almost doubled, about 90 minutes.
  7. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 190°C.
  8. After the second rise, brush your loaf with water, dust with rye flour and score (slash) the top.
  9. Bake the bread for about 35 minutes, until it sounds hollow when you thump the bottom.
  10. Remove the loaf from the oven and cool it on a rack before slicing.
  11. Store bread wrapped tightly at room temperature for several days.

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