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In an effort to maintain my sanity I am trying where possible to maintain a three dish limit for each country on our international tour, but bread featured so heavily when I was conducting my research into Estonian cuisine that I had to make an exception and include a trio of black breads.  The internet is full of ex pat Estonians quoting black bread as the one thing they miss from their homeland above anything else.  Indeed bread has such high provenance in Estonia that in the days of yore if a clumsy oaf knocked a loaf (or a slice) on the floor they would retrieve it and immediately plant a big old smacker on it.

Rye flour is heavier than your regular bread flour and the addition of treacle makes for a very sticky dough.  It takes longer to rise than a standard dough, but it does rise, and it does taste very good.  We served it up with our soup (juustine kukeseene supp).  It is also rather tasty lightly toasted and topped with a big chunk of English cheddar and whatever chutney you have hanging around.

We were left with more bread than we could consume before it started to go stale and so I crumbled it down into breadcrumbs, shoved them into freezer bags and froze ready to retrieve for making Latvian rupmaizes kartojums a couple of weeks later.

Makes Dulcie's List   Makes Cosmin's List


  • 9 tbsp treacle (molasses)
  • 600ml warm water (1 pint / 2.5 cups)
  • 15g dried yeast (0.5 oz / 1.5 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee
  • 1tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 250g wholemeal flour (8.8oz / 2.1 cups) (whole wheat flour)
  • 250g rye flour (8.8oz / 2.5 cups)
  • 190g plain flour (6.7oz / 1.5 cups) (all-purpose flour)
  • 4 tbsp polenta
  • 1 egg white lightly beaten


  • Calories | 86
  • Fat | 0.4g

Makes | 3 loaves

Prep Time | 3 hours (including proving)

Cooking Time | 40 minutes


  1. Stir the treacle into the warm water until dissolved, stir in the yeast. Cover and leave in a warm draft-free place for approximately ten minutes to allow the yeast to activate.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the wholemeal flour, rye flour, plain flour, coffee, cocoa and salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture, whisking with a fork from the inside out gradually incorporating the liquid into the flour mixture until you have a dough.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for approximately ten minutes until smooth.
  3. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover and leave in a warm draft-free place for approximately 1.5 hours until doubled in size.
  4. Knead the dough for another five minutes and divide into two or three pieces shaping into rounds or rectangles as preferred. Place on a baking sheet sprinkled with the polenta, allowing enough room for the dough to rise.  Cover and leave to rise in a warm draft-free place for an hour until doubled in size.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200°c/390°f adding a deep tray of water on the bottom shelf (be very careful when removing).
  6. Brush the tops and sides of the loaves with beaten egg whites. Cut two 3-inch slits across the top of each loaf and bake for 35-40 minutes.  You can tell they’re done when you get a hollow sound on tapping the base.
  7. Cool on a cooling rack, covering immediately with a tea towel.

Based on a recipe found in Estonian Tastes & Traditions written by Karin Annus Karner

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