It was over two months into lockdown when I saw that my yeast supply had run low. I’d been rationing it for this reason, knowing that yeast has been in short supply virtually everywhere. I was on Twitter one day when a friend mentioned that Super Mart, located in my very village had yeast, and so I went the very next day to pick it up. Sure enough they did have yeast, but not the little packets I’m used to. These suckers came in 1lb packages that apparently keep well for months. This got my little bread baking head spinning and so I took to the internet to find my next experiment. I ended up on King Arthur Flour’s website- a mecca of all things baked where I found a recipe for Honey Wheat Black Bread that stood out like a dark brown thumb in a sea of white loaves. And so I grabbed my yeast and got working.
I’ve made bread several times by now, but trust me this one is the easiest by far. Hell, one of the first steps involves simply adding all the ingredients into a bowl and mixing. I would throw out a word of caution that bread can be finicky, and so if possible, I always use the weighted measurements rather than volume- both of which KAF provide. Apart from the standard fare, the recipe calls for the inclusion of honey as well as cocoa powder and espresso powder- each of which work to provide that deep flavor you find in this bread. They also lend to it’s dark color which is admittedly lighter as KAF calls for a caramel powder which I do not have. It’s worth noting that I used All Purpose instead of Wheat Flour here, which turned out great. Now the recipe is pretty loose in it’s methods. KAF gives you the option to knead with a mixer, by hand or in a bread maker. Trust me when I say that you don’t want to do this by hand. There’s so much liquid in this dough to keep it soft and moist, however all that water content leads to a sticky, almost unworkable dough. Trying to knead this on the counter would turn into a mess, so if you have a stand mixer, use it. Again KAF was pretty vague in it’s direction, saying to simply “knead.” Based on my newfound bread knowledge, I found 7 minutes to be that good sweet spot. After its first rise, it’s ready to be shaped. Your intuition may tell you that it’s too sticky and to add more flour, but don’t listen to it! Add only as much flour as you need to shape them into mini loaves. The more flour you add, the more dense your bread will be. I laughed a little after these rose a second time because they really looked like potatoes ready to be baked in the oven. I decided to brush the tops with egg wash and do a little sprinkling of oats for that picture perfect appearance before popping them in the oven to bake.
This bread was incredible- absolutely incredible. It’s so rich with this deep flavor that you just don’t get from standard white bread. All that sweet honey is balanced out by the cocoa and espresso powders which provide great color and bitterness. But make no mistake that these are slightly sweet and hearty. The texture of this bread is so pillowy and soft- even after sitting for a while. The added oats on top give a nice texture and really make them look like the loaves you’re given at The Cheesecake Factory. The only real change I’d make is to brush the entire loaf with egg wash as you can clearly see which parts of the bread were brushed and which were not. The egg wash gives that slight crust and dark color that you’re after. I’d definitely make this again and again- thanks to my new jackpot of yeast.
Full Method | Recipe by King Arthur Flour: