Black bread flavoured with with treacle and fennel seeds, with the addition of cocoa and coffee giving it dark colour. Crust speckled with sesame seeds, it's not quite as dense as Russian black bread and not as seedy as German pumpernickel.
What does black bread taste like?
This is the Marmite of breads which you either hate or love, for its sweetish, burnt taste and the aniseedy tang. Hate or love this bread, it certainly is an interesting loaf. The apparently odd list of ingredients including rye flour, wheat flour, fennel seed, grated raw carrots and parsnips, coffee and sugar produces a unique result.
Treacle gives it a sweetish, burnt taste and the seeds, fennel and caraway, come through so distinctly that you need to love that aniseedy flavour to enjoy it.
It’s certainly unusual: bread that looks and smells like cake but makes a surprisingly good material for a ham sandwich. It's a little squidgy when sliced fresh which is quite visible in the picture below. It's soft ever when a day older.
How to bake black bread?
As for baking technique, it's nothing special. I baked it in my cloche, a clay Dutch oven which looks like this. It’s a lovely thing and I can wholly recommend it, especially for sourdough.
But if you haven't got anything like that, use a cast iron casserole dish with a lid. Failing that, it behaves absolutely well when put on a lightly oiled, heavy baking tray.
Why is it black?
If truth be told, the bread is dark brown rather than black. The colour comes from the plethora of dark-coloured ingredients listed above and below, mainly cocoa, coffee and treacle. But to call it 'brown bread' would give the bread disservice.
Dan Lepard, whose book 'Short and Sweet' inspired me, calls it black and so will I. I imagined it would be more like Russian or German black bread while it turns out to have a characteristics all of its own. The most it really resembles is a chocolate cake gone wrong, but in a nicest possible way.