The Real Deal
Alright, so first, let me tell you how grateful I am for the outpouring of support for my thematic tweaking of the blog and for my gutsy or wacky, depending on which peanut gallery you’re seated in, career change. You ladies and gents rock! I mean that! I really have been second guessing my sanity the past few weeks so any and all morale boosters are much needed. Did I mention I ticked off another decade this past week too? I’m not telling you which one, but let’s just say I’m fearful I’ve left the “young woman” stage of my life behind. On my birthday, I was on my knees, pulling weeds, and wondering which synapse exactly in my aging brain short-circuited when I decided to leave my cushy manager’s position for *this*. Fortunately, I’ve since halted plans to surgically remove that faulty synapse, realizing after planting several 10-15 feet tall trees among towering 200 year old Hemlocks today, that this new role is pretty darn cool.
So anyway, eons ago, when the temperatures were below freezing (strange how that seems far in the past already), I had those wonderful Weeks of Bread. Remember? And in one of those carbohydrate crazy posts, I showcased a recipe for Pumpernickel Bread that proved to be a bit untraditional and promised to make a stab at a more traditional recipe in the near future. Well, let’s see…3 months later, I’ve finally got that traditional Pumpernickel Bread recipe for you. This batch was much more along the lines of what most people think of when they imagine those dark, dense loaves with a molasses nip in the flavor.
It is very time consuming though, so be forewarned. And it still didn’t meet the standards of the pumpernickel aficionado (D), supposedly too “homemade” tasting. Um, yes, it is homemade, my dear; how insightful of you. I personally enjoyed its moist dense interior and crackly exterior, but I guess D was expecting, yet again, a loaf much more similar to that which he buys in the store. Take that review for what it’s worth. I would suggest trying this recipe for yourself and, assuming you like it as much as I did, planning to bake big batches of it at a time and freezing it until ready to use. The fermenting period, coupled with the long sauna session in the oven, make this particular bread a bit difficult to “whip up”. For the record though, the initial step of getting the ingredients incorporated into a dough is one of the fastest and easiest of any bread I’ve ever made.
As may be foreshadowed by my slowness to post this recipe, making traditional pumpernickel is only for those with some reserves of patience or mad multitasking skills.
Traditional German Pumpernickel Bread
Taken from The Practical Encyclopedia of Baking
4 C. rye flour
2 C. whole-wheat bread
2/3 C. bulgur wheat
2 t. salt
2 T. molasses
3 ½ C. warm water
1 T. vegetable oil
Lightly grease two loaf pans and set aside. Combine the rye flour, whole-wheat flour, bulgur wheat and salt in a large bowl.
Mix molasses with the warm water and vegetable oil. Add liquids to the flour mixture and combine to form a dense dough. (You do not need to need this bread at all, just mix with a spoon.)
Divide dough between the two prepared pans, pressing it into the corners and leveling the top. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for 18-24 hours (the longer the better).
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 225 F. Remove the plastic wrap from the pans and then cover them tightly with aluminum foil. Fill a roasting pan or other large baking dish three-quarters full with boiling water and carefully place on the lower rack of your oven. Place covered loaf pans on the top rack directly above the pan of water. Bake the loaves for 4 hours.
Raise the oven temperature to 325 F. Uncover the loaves and add more water to the pan below them if needed. Bake for another 40-45 minutes or until the loaves are firm and the tops crusty.
Let cool in the pans for a few minutes before turning out onto a rack or towel to cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic and let “cure” at room temperature for 24 hours. Serve sliced thinly, topped with cold cuts or pate.
(makes 2 loaves)