This past holiday season we had the opportunity to spend a couple of weeks in Germany, visiting our daughter as she’s studying abroad there. In addition to having a fantastic time seeing the sights, we loved experiencing the food, including a lot of pumpernickel bread!

The breads we were served during our trip were dense and hearty – something good to have on a cold winter’s night. After we returned home, we happened to see an old episode of Julia Child’s cooking show where pumpernickel bread was featured and were inspired to try it ourselves.

We never knew there would be so many ingredients to purchase for this pumpernickel bread recipe! The only ‘hard to find’ ingredient was the prune paste or jam. Once you see the packaging, you should be able to recognize the brand in your supermarket, as more popular items on the supermarket shelves are almond or apricot paste. Find those, and you’ll be good to go!

Pumpernickel Bread Ingredients

Pumpernickel Bread Ingredients

Pumpernickel Bread Recipe

We used this recipe from Lauren Groveman’s Kitchen. Keep reading for a recipe for salad that calls for pumpernickel bread, too!

Special Equipment:

  • 8-quart mixing bowl, to rise dough
  • Wooden surface for kneading
  • Pastry scraper
  • Quarry tiles or a pizza stone (use dark steel shallow baking sheet as a substitute)
  • Baker’s peel, to transfer loaves to oven (use a flat cookie sheet as a substitute)
  • Oven sweep, to brush meal off tiles after baking (optional)

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 Tablespoons melted butter, for greasing
  • 2 cups plain yogurt, at room temperature or, as a substitute, use tepid water (warm to the touch)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened and cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup prune lekvar (also called prune butter: available in most well-stocked supermarkets with jams and preserves)
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 1/2 squares (2 1/2 ounces) unsweetened chocolate, broken
  • 2 Tablespoons ground caraway seeds
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon whole caraway seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon fine table salt
  • 2 1/2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups coarse rye meal (if unavailable, substitute medium rye flour)
  • Up to 6 cups high gluten bread flour, including flour for dusting and shaping
  • Glaze: 1 egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • Topping: sesame seeds and/or caraway seeds (optional)
  • Cornmeal (medium ground), for bakers peel
Pumpernickel Bread

Pumpernickel Bread

Directions:

1) To set up: Brush an 8-quart bowl with melted butter and set aside to rise dough. Take out your pastry scraper, another large mixing bowl and a wooden spoon.

2) To assemble dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, cubed butter, shortening, lekvar and molasses. Dissolve instant espresso in 1 cup of boiling water and pour into a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add broken chocolate and melt chocolate in espresso over very low heat until smooth, stirring frequently. Add to the mixing bowl with powdered and whole caraway seeds and salt.

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water with a pinch of sugar until creamy and pour into mixing bowl along with the rye meal. Stir to combine well. Using a wooden spoon, briskly stir in enough bread flour, 1/2 to 1 cup at a time, until you create a mass that’s not easily stirred, but not dry. Turn the mass out onto a floured wooden board and knead until smooth and elastic, adding only as much flour as necessary to prevent dough from sticking to your work surface and hands.

In the beginning of the kneading process, this dough will feel quite “pasty” because of the rye flour. As always, use a pastry scraper while kneading to scrape dough off the board cleanly as you continue to knead in a sufficient amount of flour.

3) To rise dough twice: When dough is smooth and elastic, place it in the buttered rising bowl. Cover bowl with buttered plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Let it rise in a draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, about 2 1/2 hours. Punch down dough with several swift swats from the back of your hand to deflate dough totally. Turn over dough, cover and let rise again for 1 1/2 hours.

4) To shape oblong loaves: Turn out fully risen dough onto a lightly floured board and use the blade of your pastry scraper to divide dough in half. Work with half the dough at a time, keeping the other half covered.

Lay two clean kitchen towels on your counter and sprinkle them with bread flour. Roll dough half into a 7×10-inch rectangle. Starting at the short end farthest from you, roll dough toward you, pinching to seal as you go. Pinch to seal the ends and tuck under to attach to the bottom seam. Rotate and plump dough to finish shaping and place shaped loaf (seam side up) diagonally on a prepared towel.

Form a sling by joining the corners of the towel farthest from the loaf. Secure the joined towel points within a closed drawer (in a quiet area) so the loaves hang undisturbed in their slings for 45 minutes.

5) To set up for baking loaves: While bread is rising, position the rack in the second or third lowest shelf in the oven and, if using a sheet of quarry tiles or a pizza stone, place it on the rack. On the rack below this, place a heavy-bottomed, oven-proof pan, which will preheat along with the tiles. Sprinkle a baker’s peel or a flat cookie sheet with cornmeal.

Thirty minutes before the end of the rise, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. If not using tiles or a stone, brush or spray 1 or 2 large (preferably dark steel) shallow baking sheets with vegetable oil and sprinkle interior with cornmeal. After mixing egg white and water, pour into a small medium-mesh sieve into another bowl to remove excess coagulation and any bubbles created while mixing. Place glaze next to your work surface.

6) To slash and glaze loaves: Working with one loaf at a time, carefully release slings and gently turn out loaves from towels (smooth side up) onto the prepared baker’s peel or baking sheet at least 3 inches apart. Use your hands gently to plump loaf into a neat shape. Using a sharp serrated knife or a razor, slash tops of each loaf three times horizontally, going 1/3 inch deep into the dough. Using a pastry brush, paint tops and sides of loaves (excluding slashes) generously with glaze.

7) To bake loaves: Just before inserting the dough into the hot oven, carefully pour ¾ cup warm water into the pan beneath the rack used to bake the loaves, then shut the door while you go get the loaves. If baking with tiles, insert the peel all the way to the back of the oven and with one swift jerk pull out the peel, leaving loaves on the hot tiles (preferably with three inches between them). If not using tiles or a stone, place loaves into the hot oven on their baking sheets as directed. Bake loaves at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on wire racks to cool thoroughly before slicing, 2 to 3 hours.

Bread Salad Recipe

After we made the bread and enjoyed it for breakfast, we found a recipe for a bread salad where rye bread was used in place of the sourdough. It’s a very easy recipe to add to your evening meal or as a brunch item.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cubed and toasted, dark rye or pumpernickel bread
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 15 minutes before serving, toss with a simple vinaigrette-
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Serves 4

Download and print the recipes here.

Do you like pumpernickel bread? How do you like to enjoy it?

Mary Hathaway, Owner of Dinner Diva, has been a personal chef since 2002. She cooks regularly for clients who have special dietary needs, value healthy cooking by using organic products where possible and those who want healthy family meals but have no time to cook. Whether it’s a dinner for 4, a holiday party for 20, or a set of meals for the week, all of the recipes are customized to her client’s needs or lifestyle. Go to: Dinner-Diva.com for more info.