Not gonna lie…Pumpernickel was almost the end of my bread baking career. A tough loaf to make given that it requires several key boxes to be checked off a list – a bitter caramel taste, deep, rich chocolate coloring, and finally a texture which is both dense and chewy but light and airy. How on earth am I going to manage that?
Historically, pumpernickel was an almost indigestible, brick-like peasant loaf (a fact which is, apparently, evidenced by the etymology of the word). Given that this is a cooking website, let’s try for edible Pumpernickel, shall we? Heck, let’s even try for deliciously edible Pumpernickel.
My version of this pain peasantry is a dense loaf with hints of a Nespresso’d café mocha dancing in the background. Perfect on a cold, breezy day smothered in Winter Spiced Honey or as a quick tea sandwich with butter, cucumbers and smoked salmon or ham, Swiss and Dijon mustard. Yum!
Prep Time: 15 minutes Rise Time: 1 hour Bake Time: 25-30 minutes Makes: 1 (5″) Boule
1/3 cup lukewarm water
1/2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon yeast
2 tablespoons freshly brewed Nespresso
1 tablespoon Molasses
1/4 cup rye flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup bread flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon egg beaters + a few drops of water
1. Proofing the Yeast – combine the warm water, dark brown sugar and yeast in a measuring glass. Set aside to proof for a few minutes.
2. Dry Ingredients – whisk the dry ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer set with the dough hook attachment.
3. Add the molasses and Nespresso to the dry ingredients, mixing until combined. The dough will resemble crumbly sand at this point. Next, add the yeast mixture to the dough and continue kneading for 5-10 minutes until the dough forms a ball and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. When finished, the dough should be tacky – moist to the touch, but not so moist it sticks to you. (See Notes below)
4. Shaping – Remove the dough from the stand mixer and gently shape into a round boule by pulling all four sides of the dough outward and then quickly tucking them underneath the dough.
5. Rising – Place the dough on a baking sheet and set inside a cold oven. Set the temperature of the oven to 150°, or the lowest temperature setting on your oven, and let rise for 30 minutes. Then turn the oven off and continue to let the dough rise for 30 minutes in a warm oven until doubled in size. Remove from the oven, score 3 times and brush with egg wash. Set aside to rest whilst the oven is preheating.
6. Preheat the oven to 375°. Bake the loaf for 25-30 minutes or until tapping the loaf produces a hollow sound and the internal temperature at the center of the bread measures at least 175°.
Notes – If the dough is too wet, lightly dust it with 1 tablespoon of flour at a time and continue kneading until the dough easily shapes into a ball. If the dough is too dry, add 1 teaspoon of water at a time and continue kneading until the dough easily shapes into a ball.
Caraway Topping – caraway seeds are a traditional addition to pumpernickel. If you prefer to include them, combine ¼ cup water with ¼ teaspoon of cornstarch in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Five minutes before the pumpernickel is finished baking, remove the bread from the oven, brush with the cornstarch mixture, sprinkle with caraway seeds and return to the oven to finish baking.