During the day on Saturday, I had fun preparing food for a long over-due girls’ night dinner party at my house. Dear friends, both new and old, together over food, beverage, stories and laughter. A mild fall Sunday afternoon was spent on yard work and the bittersweet job of putting the patio furniture away for the winter. But we were still able to relax and enjoy the nice day with a bonfire down by the pond.
I even have a bonus day—off today for the Veterans’ Day holiday. Many thanks to our current military and veterans for all they do and the sacrifices they’ve made!
Our Saturday night dinner started with chips and Guacamole—love the freshness of just-made guac!
We then moved to the dining room and the warmth of the fireplace for the rest of the meal, Spinach Salad, Smoky Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili, Black Bread, and the pièce de résistance was dessert, Lori’s Lavender Crème Brûlée. One of the best desserts I’ve had in ages! And so pretty too! Thank you, Lori!!
This Black Bread is another unique recipe from 101 Cookbooks. It’s hearty and dark, ideal for a cold day and it goes wonderfully with chili. It also makes great toast and was the perfect base for breakfast on Sunday, with a thick slather of leftover guacamole and topped with a poached egg.
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water (105 – 115F)
1 teaspoon natural cane sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons finely ground espresso beans
¼ cup molasses
3 teaspoons caraway seeds, plus more for topping
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces (for a vegan version, Earth Balance)
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
About 2 cups coarsely grated carrot
1 1/3 cup rye flour
About 3 1/4 cup bread flour—I used a combo of white and whole wheat (or unbleached all -purpose flour), plus more for dusting
Olive oil for kneading and oiling baking sheet
2 tablespoons buttermilk (I used skim milk with a little Greek yogurt mixed in), water, or milk (use non-dairy milk for a vegan version)
In a small bowl whisk the yeast with the warm water and sugar, and set aside until foamy. If the yeast doesn’t activate, try again.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the cocoa, coffee, molasses, caraway, butter, and salt. Stir constantly until just melted. You want the mixture to be lukewarm when you add it to the other of the ingredients.
Combine the yeast mixture with the grated carrot and molasses mixture in a large mixing bowl. Add the flours, and stir until you’ve got a soft, tacky, cohesive dough. If your dough is too dry, add more warm water a bit at a time. Alternately, if your dough is a bit too wet, and you need to add a bit more flour, do so. Turn the dough out onto your counter and knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is elastic and springy. Note: you can do this step using the dough hook on your mixer (but it’s much more fun to knead by hand!).
Shape the dough into a ball, rub with a bit of olive oil, and place seam-side down into an oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise in a warm, cozy place for 1- 2 hours or until the dough doubles in size. Punch down dough and turn out onto a lightly floured counter, and coerce into a pleasant-shaped round. Place directly on a very lightly oiled baking sheet, then cover loosely with a floured tea cloth or plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, another hour. Uncover, brush gently with buttermilk, sprinkle with a dusting of flour, and a teaspoon of caraway seeds, and use a serrated knife to slash an ‘X’ deeply across the dough (do your best not to deflate the loaf).
Bake for 20 minutes at 425F / 220C. Dial back the heat to 350F / 180C, and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the loaf develops a structured, toasted-bottomed crust, and the loaf sounds a bit hollow when you knock on it. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes on a rack before slicing into.
Make one extra-large loaf.