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Real Pumpernickel Bread

Recently a colleague asked me for a formula for “real German” pumpernickel bread. I had to confess that most the lame pumpernickel breads have so much chocolate and brown food coloring in them that they are barely pumpernickel breads at all. I once took a course with master baker, Jeffrey Hamelman, and he described a long process of using a very low oven and plenty of steam. The bread is covered and baked overnight at a low temperature, about 225°F and cohabits with the oven with a pan filled with water.

I never felt I could do it properly but when the colleague asked for the formula, I looked again. I found a formula that was good for the home baker or the pro who wants to branch out. Here’s the link.
I mixed the dough Tuesday for a Thursday bake. That’s a long time to wait. You need to be patient. Yesterday, I so wanted to bake off what I had but it had not risen much. Today, I was treated to the sight of fully risen bread. Here’s where my own experience comes in handy.

Whenever I start a starter for sourdough, I use rye flour. It’s pretty much rye flour, water and honey. The dough the post suggested only had rye, water, molasses and salt. That’s pretty close. I waited the 48 hours and was rewarded with a risen bread. I baked it off using the requisite time and temperature. The formula says to “cure” the bread for another 24 hours. How much patience is one man supposed to display? I had to taste it once it cooled. It was great. I will let you know how it tastes tomorrow after the 24 hour waiting…er… curing period. Great German bread!

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