Bite Me ~ Black Pepper Rye Bread

This gorgeous loaf is based on one of Dan Lepard’s recipes in his new book “Short and Sweet” and at his weekly column, “How To Bake” on The Guardian’s website. I have a copy of Dan’s “Handmade Loaf”, which is one of my favourite cookery books on baking bread. I hope to soon also own a copy of his new “Short and Sweet” book. Perhaps for Christmas, if Santa is reading this… (ahem).

As with most of Dan’s bread recipes, it is an inspired creation. It’s dead easy and does something that most bread recipes never manage to do – it builds confidence and makes you smile when everyone who sees this marvellously rich brown loaf sprinkled with poppy seeds says, “WOW! That’s beautiful.” Just follow Dan’s recipe step-by-step, and you won’t go wrong.

And I did just that. Well…for the most part. I made a few minor adjustments to his recipe, and I hope that Dan doesn’t mind when he reads this. If he reads this.

I wanted to come as close as possible to that ‘Oh-I’m-so-homesick’ familiar flavour of bakery-fresh Danish rye bread from the southern region of Fyn (an island in Denmark). I achieved this, according to my husband, with the addition of a dessertspoon, rounded and spilling over, of black treacle. I added this to very strong brewed coffee while it was hot, and stirred until it was incorporated. I also chose caraway seeds as my preferred whole spice; fennel paired with more subtly flavoured foods can often be overpowering (like smoked, soft cream cheese). Caraway is also more commonly used in Danish rye bread than fennel. I didn’t bother to crush the seeds — I just tossed them in whole.

I also used fine ground Malabar pepper instead of normal or fresh course ground. The result is sutble heat following the fennel flavour, lingering on your tongue, and then building. It’s a real tease, I’ll tell you for sure, and it has bite.

And finally, I had Nigella seeds from my friend at Zeb Bakes but I decided to follow Danish tradition this time with poppy seeds. Nigella will get her pride of place on top of the next loaf.

Mr. Misk and I are so pleased with the flavour of this bread that we’re apt never again to buy imported stale Germany rye bread in little clear crinkly plastic packaging. My local supermarket can order two less of that product each week because I’m baking proper rye at home from now on.

Dan Lepard’s Black Pepper Rye Bread is easy-peasy to slash. I’m new to baking bread, and I’m the first to admit that my dough slashing skills are not always up to standard. Sometimes I make a right piggy’s ear of it! This loaf however made my technique seem professional and proficient. Well, except that I dipped my slashing knife into flour so the dough wouldn’t stick – the result was a bit of white flour stuck on the poppy seeds, which wasn’t very ‘professional’ of me. I won’t powder my knife with flour next time. This recipe is well worth giving a try!

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. ceciliag says:

    oo.. that looks gorgeous and I am just winding up to make a loaf of bread after this week!.. c

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      Hi! It’s not only gorgeous – it’s unbelievably delicious … and healthy too. Bonus, eh? Off to read your new Fish & Chips post at http://thekitchensgarden.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/new-zealand-week-fish-n-chips-in-honour-of-the-rugby-win/ 😉

  2. You know what’s funny, today we had a meeting about an upcoming Nordic promotion we are going to have in one of our restaurant and our boss was asking about Nordic breads. Having very little knowledge of Nordic bread, I remembered this blog post and I confidently said “Sure, no problem, we will do some dark rye and pepper bread…”.
    Thank you for your inspiration! 🙂

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      Hello, Gregoire! Are you guys doing the Scandanavian Christmas Buffet again? I’m glad that you found the time to read this post. Thank you!

      Regarding the Black Pepper Bread, all credit to Dan Lepard as it’s his recipe, also available in his new book “Short and Sweet” is so easy and impressive.

  3. Joanna says:

    One of the things I love about your bread is that you always get this lovely high shape to the loaf. That little bit of treacle sounds like just the thing for that elusive Danish flavour. Brian is very keen on caraway seeds so next time I make this one I’ll put them in, You did the recipe proud 🙂 x

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      Thanks, Joanna, for the lovely compliment. x The funny thing about the caraway is that it doesn’t push to the front demanding attention. It’s subtle and blends very well with the other flavours. I considered using the fennel seed but I wasn’t sure about the marriage of its flavour with the rye, treacle and poppy seeds. The poppy seeds are perfect as a topper, too, because the flavour is very compatible. But there’s one more tweak I’ve been asked to do. Mr Misk wants the traditional Fynsk addition of finely shredded carrot added. It’s worth a try!

  4. BEAUTIFUL looking loaf. I’m trying to resist getting that book, but with so many bloggers subtly whispering to buy it, it’s hard.
    Now this loaf has everything I love about bread in it, (and perfect slashing Ms Misk.)

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      Hi Brydie! Thank you for the lovely slashing compliment. This dough is dead-easy to slash – made me look much more proficient than I really am when it comes to that. I usually make a hash of it with my higher-hydration loaves like sourdough. I saw a recipe similar to this one recently that added a bit of cocoa powder to the mix for additional colour depth. Not sure about the flavour combo with rye but if it’s like Mexican mole it could be quite interesting. Do you have any thoughts on that flavour combination?

      1. I haven’t played with cocoa in the bread for awhile. I think the best result I had was rolling the outside of the dough in it for a darker crust. No taste at all from it, just purely for the look. I should play again…
        http://cityhippyfarmgirl.com/2011/03/14/chocolate-peanut-butter-bread/

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