Russian Rye Sandwich Bread Recipe

This Russian rye sandwich bread recipe was created for the reddit 52 weeks of baking challenge, week 49: Russia. You can call it a Russian black bread if you use the black cocoa variation.

This recipe shares similarities with my sweet brown bread recipe, which is an adaptation of a copycat Outback or Cheesecake Factory brown bread. Both are colored with cocoa and coffee. Both have a bit of sweetness added. Both have oil or butter to add softness.

three slices of Russian rye sandwich bread on a cutting board with a bread knife.

But that’s where the similarities end. While that loaf is soft and light, this 50% rye sandwich bread is denser and fragrant with fennel and caraway seeds.

Tips and tricks for this recipe

The recipe for making this rye sandwich bread is the same whether you are making the recipe with standard cocoa or a Russian black bread with black cocoa. It starts with a sponge made of dark rye or pumpernickel flour mixed with yeast, coffee, and cocoa (Panel #1). Water and molasses are added and whisked together to form a sponge (Panel #2).

four panels showing three steps to make the bread and a black cocoa comparison.

Cover the sponge with additional flour and yeast and let it sit at room temperature for a few hours until it starts to bubble through (Panel #3). Panel #4 is a sponge made using black cocoa. Check out the difference in color!

Mix and knead in the rest of the ingredients, form a ball, and let it rise in a medium bowl covered with plastic wrap until it has doubled in size.

the Russian rye sandwich bread recipe before and after its first rise.

Rising times will vary based on how warm your room is and how active your yeast is. You can always speed up the process by putting the bowl in a warmer place. Or slow it down by using less yeast, and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight.

Shape the dough into a loaf, and place it seam side down into a greased loaf pan. Let it rise until it has risen to about one inch over the side of the loaf pan.

the russian rye sandwich bread before and after its second rise in the loaf pan.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes until the internal temperature is about 190-195F.

a slice of Russian black bread and rye sandwich bread on a plate

FAQs about this Russian rye sandwich bread recipe

Is this a pumpernickel?

From what I can tell, pumpernickel is simply a bread made with pumpernickel flour, the whole grain rye flour. There does appear to be a specific Russian bread called Borodinsky bread that is a sourdough made with 100% pumpernickel rye flour.

Where did you buy black cocoa powder?

I was able to find it online.

What types of sandwiches would you make with this Russian rye sandwich bread?

I am dreaming about some corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese to make a Reuben. Or slice it thinly and toast it for breakfast smeared with some cream cheese.

Can I freeze this bread?

Yes. Bread freezes very well. Just slice it, place the slices in a freezer bag, and squeeze out all of the air. Bread will keep in the freezer for a few weeks to months.

Related recipes

Check out other breads for sandwiches like this Portuguese bread, this honey wheat sandwich bread, a pretzel loaf, semolina bread, or the famous purple cow milk bread.

Russian Rye Sandwich Bread

5 from 1 vote
Category: Bread
Cuisine: Russian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Rising times: 9 hours
Total Time: 10 hours
Servings: 16
Calories: 129kcal
This Russian rye sandwich bread is a dense loaf bread that is fragrant with fennel and caraway seeds.
Print Recipe


  • 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan



  • 1 cup (120 grams or 4.2 ounces) dark rye or pumpernickel flour
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee
  • ½ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1⅛ cup (255 mL or 9 ounces) warm water plus more as necessary
  • 2 tablespoons molasses

Russian rye bread

  • 2 cups (250 grams or 4.4 ounces) bread flour plus more as needed
  • 1 cup (120 grams or 4.2 ounces) dark rye or pumpernickel flour
  • ½ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons canola or other neutral vegetable oil
  • teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds


  • Make the sponge by whisking together all of the ingredients (rye flour, cocoa, coffee, yeast, water, and molasses) in the bowl of a stand mixer or a medium to large sized mixing bowl.
    1 cup (120 grams or 4.2 ounces) dark rye or pumpernickel flour, 1 tablespoon cocoa, 1 tablespoon instant coffee, ½ teaspoon instant yeast, 1⅛ cup (255 mL or 9 ounces) warm water, 2 tablespoons molasses
  • On top of the sponge, add the bread flour, additional cup of rye flour, and additional yeast.
    2 cups (250 grams or 4.4 ounces) bread flour, 1 cup (120 grams or 4.2 ounces) dark rye or pumpernickel flour, ½ teaspoon instant yeast
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it set at warm room temperature until the sponge is bubbling through, about 1 to 3 hours.
  • Mix the sponge and flours together, then add the vinegar, oil, and salt. Mix until the dough starts to come together, adding more bread flour or water as necessary to get a slightly sticky dough. Switch to the dough hook in your mixer once the dough comes together.
    2 tablespoons cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons canola or other neutral vegetable oil, 1½ teaspoons salt
  • Knead for 5 to 6 minutes, add the caraway and fennel seeds, and knead for another 2 to 3 minutes until the dough is soft and stretchable.
    1 teaspoon caraway seeds, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Form the dough into a boule, place it back in your mixing bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise at warm room temperature until it has doubled in size, about 2-3 hours.
  • Grease a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan, shape your dough into a loaf, and place it seam down into the pan. Let it rise at warm room temperature until it has risen to about one inch about the sides of the loaf pan.
  • Meanwhile preheat your oven to 375°F.
  • Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, until the internal temperature of the bread is 190 to 195°F.
  • Unmold immediately and let cool on a baking rack.


Feel free to substitute other rye flours for the dark or pumpernickel rye flour. You can also make this as a pure rye bread, but it will be much denser.
Use black cocoa in this recipe if you want a Russian black bread.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 129kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 220mg | Potassium: 128mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg
Love this recipe?Mention @Uglyducklingbakery or tag #uglyducklingbakery!

What’s next

If you make either of these sandwich loaves – the Russian rye or the Russian black bread –

please leave a comment or rating here. Or share a pic with me on Instagram!

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Previous challenges

Week 1: New Year new recipe – blueberry galette
Week 2: seasonal – Smitten Kitchen’s grapefruit pound cake
Week 3: Great British Bake Off – Kate’s sticky toffee apple caramel cake
Week 4: Australia – sausage rolls
Week 5: bite sized – cookies
Week 6: Chinese New Year – mushroom bao
Week 7: new tool – baguette baker
Week 8: chocolate – chocolate peanut butter bonbons
Week 9: timed bake – under 1 hour! chocolate chip scones
Week 10: allergy/diet restriction – macarons
Week 11: quick breads – kale bread
Week 12: signature bake – purple cow bread
Week 13: enriched breads (kale and cheese babka fail)
Week 14: childhood favorite –fudgy triple layer chocolate cake with chocolate ganache frosting
Week 15: decorating challenge – purple velvet cake
Week 16: crispy crunchy – bacon cheddar popcorn
Week 17: p52 of a favorite cookbook, or your favorite blog – chocolate peanut butter drip cake
Week 18: pâte à choux – bacon cheese puffs
Week 19: veggies turned sweet – red velvet beet waffles
Week 20: plating – mini chocolate chip cookies
Week 21: Birthday Party! – chocolate orange cake
Weed 22: Scandinavian – Swedish apple cake v sourdough apple cake
Week 23: Layers – Pecan apple oat bars (post is pending)
Week 24: Tarts – rainbow fruit tart
Week 25: Bagels and donuts – maple donut cake
Week 26: Surprise inside – surprise heart yeast bread (pending)
Week 27: Local favorite – Rainier cherry crisp
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Week 29: French dessert – peanut butter banana clafoutis (a classic with non-classic flavors!)
Week 30: Savory baking – Ooni pizza dough recipe
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Week 32: Gelatin (homemade marshmallows) and 33: Picnic – peanut butter Rice Krispie treats
Week 34: Brunch – spinach and feta muffins
Week 35: Laminated dough – puff pastry cinnamon twists
Week 36: Friendship challenge – chocolate chip marshmallow cookie bars
Week 37: Sweet and salty – salted caramel chip chocolate cookies
Week 38: Decoration challenge – royal icing
Week 39: Buns and biscuits – challah buns
Week 40: West Indies – mini banana muffins with coconut
Week 41: Pantry challenge – chocolate chip pound cake
Week 42: Celebrity or tread – ube crinkle cookies
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Week 44: Diwali – rose syrup for burfi and a rose syrup French 75
Week 45: Fairy tale, novel, or TV – Miracle Max’s Miracle pill (coffee truffles)
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Week 47: Pie – apple and blackberry pie
Week 48: Curd and puddings – blackberry curd tart

Next week: Yeast

sliced loaf of Russian rye sandwich bread and knife on a cutting board.

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