“This can be found in every Russian home – delicious slathered in creamy butter and topped with caviar. Made with rye and wheat flours, it’s rich, dense, sweet and slightly sour, with an aroma of caraway and fennel seeds. It lasts a few days if stored in an airtight container, staying lovely and moist. ”
In a jug, mix the yeast and sugar with 100ml tepid water and give it a good stir to combine. Leave it to one side to activate, when the surface will become foamy.
Peel and finely chop the shallot.
In a pan, heat the molasses, butter, coffee and chocolate with 500ml of water until the chocolate and butter have melted, then add the vinegar.
For this step you can either use an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, or make the bread by hand. In your mixer or bowl, stir together all three flours, then scoop out about a third into a separate bowl and set aside. Mix the bran into your main flour, along with the caraway seeds, fennel seeds, 2 tablespoons of sea salt and shallot, then pour in the chocolate and yeast mixtures. If you’re using a mixer, put it on medium speed and mix together until lovely and smooth, around 3 to 5 minutes, or beat it with a wooden spoon, although it’ll take a little longer by hand.
Reduce the speed and add the remaining mixed flour a little at a time until it comes together in a dough. It should feel a little sticky, but firm and dense. You might not need all the flour.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it well, so it becomes springy and elastic. Mould the dough into a ball with your hands.
Lightly grease a clean mixing bowl and the dough ball with the olive oil. Pop the dough ball into the bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
Now knock the dough back by turning it out onto a lightly floured surface and kneading for a couple of minutes. Cut the dough in two and form each half into a round loaf.
Place them on a lightly greased baking tray, seam-side down, cover with a damp tea towel, and leave to rise again for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas 4.
Slice a cross into the top of each loaf and place in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until browned on top and cooked through – they’ll sound hollow when knocked on the bottom.
Delicious serve with soft butter and, ideally, a selection of caviar.