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Nov 5, 2013

Pumpernickel Loaves | TWD

Pumpernickel Bread

To purists, this pumpernickel loaf is not authentic. At least not German pumpernickel authentic.

According the holder of all earthly knowledge (which used to be my title before Wikipedia came along), Traditional German rye gains its dark color from baking for up to 24 hours in a pain de mie type pan at a lower oven temperature. The flavors are faintly sweet and reminiscent of chocolate and coffee.

Pumpernickel Bread

This recipe comes from Baking with Julia, and was contributed by Lauren Groveman. To quote Lauren, "This bread delivers traditional taste using some untraditional ingredients."

These ingredients include espresso powder, chocolate, molasses, and prune lekvar (prune butter) to replicate the traditional flavor and color. I was a little worried, especially regarding the chocolate, but in the end, we ended up with an amazing loaf of bread.

Pumpernickel Bread

My friend David who writes for Hearth Baked Tunes (and is the well deserved self-proclaimed Rye King and rye purist) will probably be a little disappointed in me... because I really loved this bread.

Pumpernickel Bread

Final verdict? This bread is soft and wonderful. It has a faint sweetness, but doesn't taste like chocolate, coffee, molasses, or prunes. It just has a faint sweetness... kind of like pumpernickel.

The funnest and scariest part of this bread is the technique for the final rise. The bread is wrapped in a flour dusted dish towel and hung from a kitchen drawer. The original recipe required punching holes in your dish towels, which I didn't want to do. Instead, I slammed the drawer door on the top of the dish towel to suspend the loaf.

I was completely amazed at the soft and plump, puffy loaf that emerged from these swaddling clothes.

To see another post about all of the shaping techniques in preparing this bread, check out my friend Cathy's blog. Her blog is especially helpful in demonstrating the corner fold technique.

Pumpernickel Loaves


1/2 C boiling water
1 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
1 3/4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 T unsulphured molasses
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
2 T warm water
1 C water plus 1 T nonfat dry milk
2 T solid vegetable shortening
1/4 C prune lekvar (I made my own; recipe is posted here)
1 T ground caraway seeds
3/4 T whole caraway seeds
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 C coarse rye meal or medium rye flour
3 C high gluten flour. I added a T of vital wheat gluten to bread flour prior to measuring the flour
1 egg white whisked with water

This recipe is from Baking with Julia, and has been cut in half. 


  1. Put the boiling water and espresso into a small saucepan and stir. Add the chocolate, molasses, and butter and cook over low heat until the butter and chocolate melt.
  2. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. 
  3. In a small measuring cup, mix the yeast, sugar, and warm water. Let rest for about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir the 1 C water, nonfat dry milk, shortening, lekvar, caraway seeds, and salt into the butter and chocolate mixture. 
  5. Once the temperature is less than 110 degrees F, add the yeast/water mixture and the rye. Stir in just enough of the four to make a moist dough. 
  6. Switch the bowl to the mixer, and begin kneading and adding the rest of the flour. Add the flour, 1/2 C at a time. Stop at 2 1/2 C of flour and test the consistency of the dough. If the dough seems too wet, add a bit more. The final dough will be soft and most, but will clear the bowl during the kneading cycle. 
  7. Knead on medium for about 10 minutes. 
  8. Place the dough into an oiled dough rising bucket and allow to rise until doubled, 45 minutes to 2 hours. 
  9. Punch the dough down, form it into a ball, and allow to double again. 
  10. Preheat the oven, fitted with a baking stone, to 450 degrees F. Place a pan in the oven on a rack under the stone. 
  11. Shape the dough into a tight fat log. Check out Cathy's blog for the precise instructions. 
  12. Dust a dishtowel with flour and place the loaf, on a diagonal, on the towel. Hang from a cabinet drawer as pictured above. Allow the dough to rise for 40 minutes, undisturbed.
  13. When the dough is ready, Place it, seam side down, onto a piece of parchment on a peel or cookie sheet. Brush with the egg white. Slash the dough three times on slight angle. Sprinkle with seeds if you like. 
  14. Slide the loaf, parchment and all, onto the stone.
  15. Throw a few ice cubes and ice water into the pan under the stone and quickly shut the oven door.
  16. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 35 to 40 minutes more, until done. 
  17. Cool on a wire rack completely. 
This post is part of the Tuesdays with Dorie group, where twice a month we bake a recipe from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Hop over to the Tuesdays with Dorie page to see how other bakers fared.

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  1. Great looking loaf! I agree this version is good, though I couldn't help wanting the "real" pumpernickel... but then, my loaf wasn't as good looking as yours!

    1. I think the "real" is really tiny and cracker like. Just guessing... but it would be fun to attempt.

  2. This is one great looking bread! Never knew that the traditional rye breads require such a lengthy baking time.

  3. Nice loaf! I'm so glad we made this recipe.

  4. Your bread looks great. I didn't punch holes in my dish towels either. I used binder clips and hung them from a pot rack.

  5. It may not be authentic, but it sure was delicious.
    I wasn't going to punch holes in my cloths either.

    Your bread is gorgeous - great crumb

    1. Thanks Cher. And no need to sacrifice the dish towels!

  6. Your bread looks perfect! You are a artisan baker to say the least. I watched the BWJ video - I loved how Julia asked Lauren, do you have holes in all your towels? She replied, every single one of them. Boy, she must go through a lot of towels! I'm making the bread today. I hoping it turns out even half as beautiful as yours. Thanks again for another mention. ;)

    1. Thank you! I tried to find the video but didn't see it until after, but it killed me when she took the scissors to the towel!

  7. Oh Karen, I was so glad your drawer did not open by itself! I love your "hunging technique": it's the most ORIGINAL I've seen so far. WOW!
    We loved this bread even if it's a "fake" pumpernickel, as your friend David would say ;-)

    1. Thanks Carola! Yes, David calls it the pumperdevil. Still, he's intrigued...


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