52 "Outback" Black Bread: copycat

I first had this bread at the Outback restaurant. I was stunned when they told me that it was honey whole wheat bread....hmmmm. Then I had this bread at the Cheesecake Factory. I found a copycat recipe and made some changes by taking out the coffee, reducing the honey and sugar. I saw some recipes that had 25 drops of red, blue food color....YUCK!  I did not want that much food coloring in my bread...  Cocoa, instant coffee, molasses or carob powder may be substituted, but it won't be as dark as the bread you see here and may lend a bitter taste to the bread.

The secret to this dark colored bread is caramel color.  You can find it on Amazon:McCormick Food Coloring, Caramel, 16-Ounce or at Orson Gygi, a restaurant supply store in Salt Lake City. Caramel color is NOT a food coloring in the chemical sense; it is simply burnt sugar.  Restaurants use caramel color to tint desserts, candy, cakes, cookies, frosting, darken sauces, gravies, soups, marinades, and brush on meats to add more roasted color.

Where can you find caramel color?
Amazon: McCormick Food Coloring, Caramel, 16-Ounce
King Arthur sells a powdered caramel which is another option, though I haven't tried it.

Outback Bread:  Step-by-step instructions with photos! 

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Outback Whole Wheat Bread

2 1/2 c. room temperature water* (100°-110°F)
4 T. butter, margarine or vegetable oil
2 T. caramel color
1/2 c. honey
3 1/2 c. wheat flour
3-4 c. all purpose flour
2 T. cocoa
2 T. active dry yeast
2 T. vital wheat gluten
2 t. salt

Combine first 4 ingredients (water, oil, color, honey) and mix well. Pour wheat flour on top of wet ingredients. Add cocoa, yeast, gluten and salt. Stir until well blended. Allow mixture to sponge for 10 minutes.

Add all purpose flour, one cup at a time, until dough clings to hook and almost cleans the sides of mixer, about 3-4 minutes.

Allow to raise in the bowl, covered with plastic wrap, until doubled, about 20-30 minutes.

Divide into 8 piles, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Shape into loaves and roll in cornmeal. Place on greased cookie sheet or greased 2.5x5 mini loaf pans.

Allow to rise till double, about 20 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

*this recipe makes 3 medium 8"x4" loaves: bake @ 350°F for 30-35 minutes (or)
 2 large 9"x5" loaves: bake @ 350° for 35-40 minutes.

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