Sweet black bread

Sött svartbröd

Black bread baked in a Panibois

This is our favourite bread! Yes really! Whenever we serve it, it always takes centre stage. It is a lovely sweet black bread so packed with flavour that it is perfect served with nothing more than some good quality butter. We normally eat it when we are enjoying a leisurely breakfast, sometimes with cheese or occasionally as an aperitif before dinner.

Canada's Young Chef of the Year

Paul Moran, Executive Chef at Nita Lake Lodge, Whistler, Canada
Photo courtesy of Jessica Haydahl Photography

The recipe has been adapted from a recipe developed by Paul Moran, a young Canadian chef. When my wife and I tried the bread we thought it was the tastiest bread we had ever had anywhere! That was back in 2013 and we obviously chose well because he went on to be declared Canada's Young Chef of the Year in 2014!

Paul kindly agreed to share his recipe with us, but as it was based on baking a 7.5 kg batch of loaves and using a sourdough starter I have adapted it to use "instant" yeast in the hope that more people will be tempted to try it. I think the result is really good: almost as good as the original!

Although the recipe originates from Canada I do hope you will try it as it really does seem so SwedeliciousJohn Duxbury




A bread dome

• If you have one, I recommend baking the bread in a bread dome or in an oblong covered baker, removing the cover for the last five minutes.

Pan for cooking black bread

• Alternatively, you can use an ovenproof casserole dish. (Don't worry if you can't cover the bread, it will simply have a more caramelised crust, which you might prefer anyway.)

Black bread on a cooling rack

• The bread can be baked in ordinary loaf tins, but I like to use 500 g (1 lb) Panibois baking baskets as they look so nice, especially if you give a loaf away as a present. The baskets can be frozen (the bread freezes well) and they can be reused. Panibois baskets can be ordered online.

Two loaves of sweet black bread, one plain and one with a coating of strong black coffee

• One reader recommended making a cup of really strong coffee, think quadruple espresso. Then, while the bread is in the oven, take it out now and then and brush it with coffee. Also, brush it a last time when ready. The crust you get is really good and goes extremely well with the sweetness of the bread. Note that in this case the bread should not be covered in the oven, since it is the crust you are after. The result is shown on the right: a dark tasty crust, but less rise. My tasters have been divided: some prefer plain and others prefer the coffee coated crust, so I recommend trying one of each!


• Paul used vital wheat gluten flour, an ingredient quite common in Canada and the United States, but not generally on supermarket shelves in Europe. Although it can be ordered online I have tested the recipe with and without vital gluten flour and found it very hard to tell the difference, so if you haven't got any I would omit it from the recipe.


120 g caster (superfine) sugar
420 g boiling water
1 tbsp spirit vinegar (5%)
340+ g strong bread flour (all-purpose flour)
50 g strong wholemeal (whole wheat) bread flour
140 g rye flour
1½ tbsp vital gluten flour, optional
3 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp caraway seeds
1 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
1½ tsp salt
7 g fast action (easy bake) yeast, 1 packet

(We recommend using digital scales and measuring in grams.)


1. Heat the sugar in a saucepan over a medium high heat, stirring regularly, until the sugar melts.

2. Turn down the heat and continue heating and stirring until the sugar is a deep caramel colour and is beginning to smoke slightly.

3. Remove from the heat, leave for five minutes and then add the boiling water. Return to a boil, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved.

Sugar water for black bread

4. Leave to cool to 40°C (105°F) and then measure out 440 g of sugar water. If you have too much discard the rest. If you haven't got enough, add water to bring the total up to 440 g.

5. Add the vinegar to the sugar water and stir to mix.

6. Add the flours, cocoa powder, seeds, brown sugar and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix thoroughly with a spoon.

7. Add the yeast and mix thoroughly.

8. Fit the dough hook to the mixer and with the speed on minimum slowly add the sugar water and vinegar to the flour mixture.

9. Increase the speed to 2 or 3 for 4 minutes by which time you should have a slightly sticky ball of dough. If the dough is too wet (flours vary), add a tablespoon or so more flour, but take care not to add too much. You should end up with a dough that is sticky, but it shouldn't stick to your fingers.

Black bread waiting to prove

10. Cover with clingfilm (plastic wrap) or a shower cap and leave in a draft-free warm place for about 2 hours until doubled in size.

11. Knock back on a floured work surface, divide in two and shape to fit two lightly oiled 500 g (1 lb) loaf tins. Gently cover with a floured cloth or lightly oiled clingfilm and leave for about 45 minutes to double in size again.

12. Preheat the oven, and bread dome if used, to 220°C (425°F, gas 7, fan 200°C).

13. Bake until the internal temperature of the bread is 95°C (200°F), about 35 minutes. If using a dome or casserole dish, bake each loaf for 35 minutes, removing the lid for the last 5 minutes.

14. If baked in a loaf tin, remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack. If baked in a Panibois, leave in the Panibois to cool on a wire rack.


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