Eastern European Style Sourdough Brown Bread | Video Recipe

For a scalable recipe, please visit our Sourdough Brown Bread Recipe Page.

In this video we’ll be making one of my new favorite breads, an Eastern European style brown bread. This bread has a unique, complex flavor that comes from the addition of coffee, molasses, fennel seed, caraway and balsamic vinegar, just to name a few (oh yeah, did I mention the cocoa powder?).

This is one of those breads that really benefits from the use of a sourdough starter instead of commercial yeast because of how natural yeast responds acid. Commercial yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, doesn’t like super acidic environments. In fact, it’s most comfortable between a PH of 4-5. Its natural cousin (Saccharomyces exiggus) thrives in acidic environments, which is why sourdough bread (in the sense that it tastes sour) is actually possible.

So in this video, we’re not only using the natural sourdough starter to add depth of flavor to the brown bread recipe, but it is also better suited for the task of leavening, as compared to its commercial counterpart, because of the added acidity derived from the coffee, balsamic vinegar and molasses.

Methods and Terminology

If you are unfamiliar with the methods and terminology used in this recipe, please review the following audio lectures and videos tutorials before attempting. Once you understand the core curriculum linked below, this bread recipe and future ones will be much more achievable.

Alternatives To Using A Poolish Starter

This recipe benefits from the use of a sourdough starter because the natural yeast is much more resilient to acidic bread doughs (created in this recipe by the addition of vinegar, molasses and coffee). If you really don't want to use a poolish starter, mix the sponge ingredients together the night before as instructed in step one above, but add an extra 50g of bread flour and 50g of water along with 4g of instant or active dry yeast. Allow to ferment overnight and continue recipe as instructed.

Recommended Tools For This Recipe

This post is part of our ongoing Bread Baking Video Series, which teaches a wide array of baking techniques and recipes. For more information, you can also view our How To Cook Video Index.




Joined: 10/25/2012
Stella Stars: 20

Hi Jacob Lovely bread, but I think I must have done some thing wrong. Everything went ok until I came to make the slit with the razor blade. As soon as I made the cut, the loaf deflated. Really, I started to make the bread too late in the evening and when I was finished with the last "rise" before putting the bread in the oven, it was 1.0 am so I decided to wait until morning. could this be the reason for the deflation? By the way the bread tasted beautiful even though it wa a very thin loaf. Regards Bob Peers

Jacob Burton
Jacob Burton's picture
Joined: 11/01/2010
Stella Stars: 17890
Hi Bob. Yes, the reason why the bread deflated is because it was over proofed, meaning you the it rise too long the second time. It's an easy fix though; next time just don't let it rise so long. ;-)
Joined: 10/25/2012
Stella Stars: 20
Thanks Jacob I suspected that is was over proofed. I`ll be careful next time;=) Regards Bob
bucket_mouth's picture
Joined: 04/22/2014
Stella Stars: 597
Made it two ways, Loaves and Boule. Very tasty. I didn't have any seeds available so i just didn't add any. Had half of the molasses so added some brown sugar.
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