Like black bread? Me, too.
Thinly sliced black bread with butter and caviar. Black bread with a piece of sheep's milk cheese and sprigs of green onion. Black bread spread with thick buckwheat honey.
I'm intrigued as to why English recipes for Russian black bread always include things like molasses, cocoa and espresso powder. While black bread goes WITH lots of things, not many things go IN it - the recipe for real Russian black bread is utter simplicity.
My personal favorite is a bread called Darnitsky. Called "gray bread" in Russian, the only ingredients in Darnitsky are whole rye flour, wheat flour, salt, water and yeast. When you cut it open it is gray and soft inside and has small, evenly spaced holes.
My next favorite is Borodinsky. This is a dark rye whose dry ingredients are limited to rye flour, whole wheat flour and rye malt. A small dollop of molasses is added with the salt and yeast, and each loaf is topped with aromatic coriander seeds. Borodinsky is a dense bread that makes excellent garlic croutons.
An important thing to understand about Russian food is that most of it is highly regulated by state standards called GOSTs. All bread labeled Borodinsky must contain 80% whole rye flour, 15% whole wheat flour and 5% malted rye. A Reinheitsgebot for bread, if you will.
You can put cocoa and grated lemon in your rye bread if you want, but the Russian government's official position is that such additives are nonsense. And most of the bread-eating public seems to agree. Expensive hearth-style breads with creative ingredients (and without the GOST stamp of approval) are starting to appear in upscale supermarkets, but the majority raises an eyebrow and buys traditional bread.
Bread lovers in Russia will tell you that where you buy your bread is just as important as the GOST stamp. The best bread comes from bread factory stores.
When I'm in Korolev, I go to Freshest Bread (in the photo), the store operated by the local bread factory, Kaliningradkhleb. According to the factory's official history, it was once part of a chain that belonged to the legendary Moscow baker Ivan Filippov. Nationalized and then privatized (or re-privatized?), the bakery is still there, and its bread is supremely good.