Pain Noir (French Style Black Bread)

The Story

On our recent trip to Guadeloupe, we had the opportunity to buy and consume pain noir and baguette noir which is black bread popular in France and Europe. It is made with black cocoa powder. Black cocoa is a type of cocoa powder that has been so heavily Dutched (AKA treated with an alkaline solution) that it has turned black. All Dutch-processed cocoa powders have been treated with an alkaline solution to reduce their acidity, but black cocoa powder pushes this process to the extreme. What’s left is an ultra-dark cocoa powder that has an intense chocolate flavor and aroma. But don’t be misled, this bread is by no means a chocolate bread or even tastes of chocolate. The flavor from the black cocoa adds a smooth mellow nutty background note to the usual taste if the bread.

The Ingredients
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp dough conditioner
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp black cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp roasted sesame seeds (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp honey

The Preparation
  1. Combine the bread flour, active dry yeast, dough conditioner, salt and black cocoa powder in a bowl.
  2. In a 4 quart bowl combine the water and honey and microwave for 90 seconds to just slightly warm.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and mix with a sturdy spoon until all dry ingredients have been incorporated. The dough will be sticky, rough, and bit shaggy.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a room temperature oven for 4 hours. The dough should be warm and bubbly and should have grown 2-3 times in size.
  5. Turn out the entire contents of the bowl onto a large well floured bread board, sprinkle flour over the top and flatten out. From either side, fold over 1/3 of the dough and then the 1/3 from the opposite side. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat 3 more times, each time sprinkling with more flour to prevent it from becoming sticky.
  6. Cut in half and shape into loaf.
  7. Return to room temperature oven and allow to rise undisturbed for 4 hours.

The Bake
  • For 1-2 baguettes, bake 40 mins at 400F.
  • For 1-2 round loaves, bake 50 mins at 400F.
  • Using a silicone bread baker, 60 mins at 400F.

Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Times above are approximate depending on the oven and distribution of heat. Usually I will rotate the loaf or loaves half way through the baking step. At the respective time, remove from the oven (and silicone bread maker, if used) and place on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes before consuming.

Some Notes
  • Prior to baking, toasted sesame seeds or everything bagel seasoning can be sprinkled on top.
  • Make sure loaf is completely cool before placing in a bread bag to avoid condensation.

The Consumption

This bread can be enjoyed with butter, cheese, cream cheese, dipped in olive oil or as a sandwich of any type.