Week of Bread: Pumpernickel

January 30, 2008 at 10:30 am 6 comments

Pumpernickel slices 

Ah, pumpernickel, bread of my boy… 

D’s favorite bread is pumpernickel, but it is by far my least favorite.  Or should I say it was my least favorite until I made this recipe, which I tried for D’s sake.   Ironically, he doesn’t like it. 

Homemade Pumpernickel Loaf

What’s this bread preference switcheroo got to do with you?  I’m using my little household’s case study to prove that homemade pumpernickel may be worth trying even it you aren’t a fan of the stuff from the store.  Conversely, this very tiny focus group (perhaps I should include the cats next time to bump up the credibility of my research?) serves as evidence that if you do like the stuff from the store, you might be slightly disappointed by the end results of your homemade attempts.  And all of that being said, before this bread blog affair is over, I plan on trying another pumpernickel recipe that I have to determine if it’s just this recipe or homemade pumpernickel in general that bucks the store-bought-taste profile.

Did you follow all of that?  You did?!  Good for you!! 

Three flours. Rye, wheat, and white

So what is it that I like and D dislikes about this bread?  It’s not nearly as dark and heavy.  Instead you can just taste the rye flour with a touch of sweetness from the molasses – making it earthy for sure but not, um, hmmm, not, hmmm… well, I can’t seem to put my finger on the right adjective (strong? bold? overpowering?) to describe what it is about typical pumpernickel that I don’t like.  If you’re of a similar disposition, you’ll know what I mean. 

Molasses.  Look closely and you can see me!

This recipe also yields a more airily textured loaf, though denser than your average white bread.  It really makes a nice sandwich or thin slice of toast with butter.  Storing it only improves its tastes, and you actually shouldn’t slice into that dark crust for at least a day after baking. 

Cutting the dough

This version is most definitely an “Americanized” adaptation of the more traditional German bread made exclusively with rye flour and a sourdough starter.  I have a recipe for the German variety and I have another Americanized recipe that incorporates coffee and cocoa powder to give it a darker flavor.  Which would you like to see me use to further test my tolerance of homemade pumpernickels? 

Dough ball Dough resting in loaf pans Loaves just out of the oven Wrap loaves in wax paper and foil to cure for at least 24 hours


One thing’s for sure – there’ll be no caraway seeds in either of them.  That’s one element of traditional pumpernickel I’ll never be able to tolerate. 

Pretty pumpernickel

Adapted from The Big Book of Bread

2 c. rye flour
1 c. wholewheat flour
1 c. white bread flour
1 1/2 t. salt
1 package (2 t.) rapid rise dried yeast
1 T. packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 T. molasses
1 T. vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. warm water

Mix the flours and salt in a bowl.  Stir in the yeast and brown sugar (break up the brown sugar a bit with your fingers before mixing it in).  Make a well in the center of the bowl and add the oil, molasses, and water.  Mix well to form a soft dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured counter and knead for 10 minutes.  As you knead it, the dough will become sticky and a little difficult to work with – just add a dusting of flour whenever it gets too difficult and continue to knead.  Clean out the bowl you were using and spray lightly with non-stick spray.  Shape dough into a round and place in bowl, cover with a dishtowel and let rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours until doubled in size. 

Punch down dough in bowl and place on counter to divide in two small oblongs.  Grease two small loaf pans and press an oblong of dough into each. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 400 F. 

Place risen loaves in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the bread is dark brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Turn out and cool on wire rack.  Wrap in waxed paper and foil and let cure for at least 24 hours.  Serve in thin slices.

(makes 1 large or 2 small loaves)

Dark rich slices of pumpernickel


Entry filed under: Bread, Recipes. Tags: , , , , , .

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. World Food and Recipes  |  January 30, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    Nice recipe. My wife is a great breadmaker, she’ll like this one, thanks.

  • 2. gintoino  |  January 31, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    I’m not sure if the dark german bread we can find here is pumpernickel (very dark, heavy and with a bit of a sour taste), if it is I love pumpernickel! So I would rather see the german version instead of the americanized one 😉

  • 3. Jennie  |  February 1, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Gintoino – the dark german bread you love is no doubt pumpernickel. What do you call it? “Sour” is maybe the word I was looking for in the post to describe what I do *not* like about it. Oh well…finally something we disagree on in the food world. 😉 Since you’re the only person to vote, I’ll make the german version next time.

  • 4. Joanna in the kitchen  |  February 28, 2008 at 9:00 am

    I also vote for the german version:-) I am in fact a big fan of store-bought dark pumpernickel and this recipe seems new to me. This bread looks so different from the pumpenikel I know. I’ll try not to judge the book upon its cover and will definitely try this one to figure out which version I like more.

  • 5. meaghan  |  March 15, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    I am googling pumpernickel and found this recipe. I have also found that the traditional German version is a rye bread cooked in a slow steamy oven with a lid (causing it not to for a hard crust)

    So I am off next time I bake a loaf (tomorrow) to bake overnight in a warm oven (250F – 120 C I think it is)

  • 6. Jennie  |  March 17, 2008 at 10:46 am

    You are correct, Meaghan. The German version requires a much lower baking temperature. I still have plans for getting a recipe for it posted up here but have been sidetracked lately. Let me know how yours goes!


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