Makes four 1-pound loaves. The recipe is easily doubled or halved.
Pumpernickel bread is really just a variety of rye bread. What darkens the loaf and accounts for its mildly bitter but appealing flavor is powdered caramel coloring, cocoa, molasses, and coffee, not the flour. The caramel color is actually a natural ingredient made by overheating sugar until it is completely caramelized (it's available from kingarthurflour.com). Very traditional recipes use pumpernickel flour (a coarse rye with lots of rye bran), but this grain doesn't do well in our recipes because it absorbs water unpredictably. Since it's really the caramel, coffee, and chocolate that give pumpernickel its unique flavor and color, we successfully created a pumpernickel bread without true pumpernickel flour.
This bread is associated with Russia and caviar. If you're partial to caviar, here's your chance. Or just pile on the pastrami and corned beef.
1. Mixing and storing the dough: Mix the yeast, salt, molasses, cocoa, espresso powder, and caramel color with the water in the as-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
2. Mix in the flours without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with dough hook). If you're not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.
3. Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.
4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 8 days.
5. On baking day, cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough.
Using wet hands (don't use flour), quickly shape the dough into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Then form an oval-shaped loaf. Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 40 minutes.
6. Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 400oP, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.
7. Using a pastry brush, paint the top crust with cornstarch wash and sprinkle with the caraway seeds, if using. Slash the loaf with deep parallel cuts, using a serrated bread knife (see photo).
8. Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until firm. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time.
9. Allow to cool before slicing or eating.
Makes 1 loaf
The sweetness of the dried fruit and the richness of the nuts are wonderful with the aromatic pumpernickel dough. We finish this loaf with nothing but the traditional cornstarch wash, letting the flavor of the fruit and nuts come through.
1. On baking day, using wet hands instead of flour, cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough. Continuing with wet hands, quickly shape the dough into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.
2. Flatten the dough with your wet hands to a thickness of 1/2 inch and sprinkle with the walnuts and dates. Roll up the dough from the short end, like a jelly roll, to form a log. Using wet hands, crimp the ends shut and tuck them under to form an oval loaf.
3. Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 1 hour and 40 minutes (or just 40 minutes if you're using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).
4. Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 400°F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.
5. Using a pastry brush, paint the top crust with cornstarch wash and then slash the loaf with deep parallel cuts, using a serrated bread knife (see photo on the boule recipe).
6. Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup of hot tap. water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until firm. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time.
7. Allow to cool before slicing or eating.
Using a fork, blend 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch with a small amount of water to form a paste. Add 1/2 cup water and whisk with the fork. Microwave or boil until mixture appears glassy, about 30 to 60 seconds on high. It will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks; discard if it has an off smell.
Many traditional pumpernickel recipes call for the addition of "altus," which is stale rye or pumpernickel bread crumbs, soaked in water and blended into the dough. If you want to find a use for some stale rye or pumpernickel bread, you can experiment with this approach, which some say adds moisture and flavor to many traditional rye breads. Add up to a cup to the liquid ingredients before the flours. Adjust the flours to end up with dough of your usual consistency (you may need to adjust).
This page created January 2009
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