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Help -- what 's the dark brown bread with a fine small golden grain or

Sarah's picture

seed in it -- NOT sesame seed -- called?

The seeds in this bread are a mystery -- they're round, like millet seed. Crunchy. The color of pale honey. About the size of a round of 5-mm pencil lead -- too small to be uncooked couscous, for example.

The bread is chewy but not stiff, so not pumpernickel; its crumb is not as coarse as an Italian loaf, its crust not as leathery as a French baguette. It's not sweet-flavored nor does it have the characteristic whang of molasses-sweetened bread; alas, nor does it taste of buttermilk. It may not be a yeast-risen bread, but a quick-leavened bread. I know not, alas. Its color is like burnished leather, or like a chocolate (not fudge or devil's food, but cocoa-powder) cake.

No raisins, so not Boston Brown. Not made in a can, so not a Boston Brown variant. It's baked, not steamed; the top doesn't crack, and it tastes yummy without being either sweet or nutty. It's dark, as dark or darker than the dark swirls in the bread they make Arby's Reuben sandwiches on, but there's no rye or caraway involved. It's the table gift at the place I was taken for Valentine's. It's delicate but you can slice it to a thinness that would be the despair of the melba-toast industry.

It is soooooooooooooooo good. And I don't know the name of it....

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bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

comes the closest to your description, although without a taste test I'm only guessing.

Coriander is the dried fruit of the same plant that gives us cilantro, but there is no flavor resemblance whatsoever. Coriander has a mild flavor, generally described as nutty, with a pleasing crunch (fresh, baked or in soups, the mouth feel is not so crisp as a chip but more along the lines of the pop of a grape with some Wheaties inside). Crushed, it has a faint aroma of citrus. Often described as a seed, it is in fact the entire fruit; the seeds within are miniscule. Size is 3 to 5 mm, with a golden to cream color. Often in handling the dried fruit will split, creating particles half the size.

Coriander is an ancient herb, well-known to every Mediterranean and west-Asian culture. Hippocrates as well as many others ascribed numerous medicinal uses, all of which are false. The Romans used a lot of coriander in breads, and introduced it to Britain with their invasion. It was quite popular in English cookery until the India trade developed bringing more flavorful herbs, and then quickly fell into disuse.

Quite separately, the Vikings acquired a taste for coriander from the Arabs in Constantinople. They brought recipes back with them to their northern settlements and today that heritage is found in dark breads from Swedish Browns to Russian Ryes.

As Scandinavian cuisine, essentially Viking, became assimilated into the US English/Scotch/Dutch palate the presence of rye in breads became lessened. There are many Viking-based recipes now where rye has been diluted or completely substituted by whole wheat. As it takes very little rye flour to darken a loaf, I will hazard a guess that what you're eating is a Viking Brown Bread variant, probably via Sweden, that includes a touch of rye and some coriander in a generally whole wheat batter base. That crumb you mention, the coarse texture of the interior, marks it as batter bread and is from the chemical leavening and the generous use of butter, another Scandinavian hallmark. Lots of butter generally also results in a soft crust, nearly indistinguishable from the body of the bread.

Sound familiar?

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

more millet-looking than this grain (or maybe this is a tiny tiny tiny nut) or seed.

I don't have the bread handy. It's so dark it looks like it was made with coffee, but there's none of that flavor in it. Yes, I believe it probably is a batter bread. I'll look for images that are similar and if I find one I'll post it.

Thank you, though.

Historiann's picture
Submitted by Historiann on

Quinoa meets all of the criteria you describe, and it's very soft as an uncooked grain.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

five or six of these would fit in an average uncracked whole black pepper ... uh ... unit. Maybe more.

the bread may well be a non-rye pumpernickel-process bread. It's got a biscuity texture but not a biscuity flavor, if that makes sense at all.

and no, they're not giving away the recipe at the restaurant.

Update: This picture looks right, except imagine this bread about six orders of magnitude darker, and without the seeds/grains on top, but blended throughout.