The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


ehanner's picture

Let me start by apologizing to the generations of German bakers before me. I have been trying to learn about the dense style dark bread sometimes called Pumpernickel or Schrotbrot or Roggen Vollkornbrot.  I've baked the Hamelman Horst Bandle bread and liked it after I finally figured out how to bake it at home. Then I have been fooling with the Barm process and Barm breads, both white and rye flours. I read a comment from Dan Lepard about soaking whole berries in dark ale after simmering to soften. So finally all of this came together for me and I decided to try incorporating a couple of these things into the basic Vollkenbrot recipe and make some changes to the sweetener. 

It isn't really an honest Ale Barm that soured the rye chops. I started with my white starter and fed it a couple cycles with ale and AP. It provided the sour component with a very nice aroma and fluffiness after it had aged. This bread doesn't rise like a conventional loaf to any great degree. You can see the domed top with some cracks that indicate there was some spring.

The Vollkornbrot and Schrotbrot do not normally contain any flour. Not Hi Gluten or Rye flour. Perhaps  a meal or another finer grade of chops but no flour. I like to mix all of the pre ferments and scalds and soakers and then adjust the hydration to a thick paste with dark rye flour. There is a last minute addition of chops that have not been soaked that absorbs a lot of the extra water/ale but I usually need at least 100 grams of dark rye to get it where I like it. Several of the recipes I have studied call for kneading (stirring) for 30 minutes every few minutes until the dough becomes sticky. I believe this occurs when the last chops and flour additions have become hydrated. It is obvious when it happens.

The recipes call for using treacle or black strap molasses. I have been slowly increasing the amount and also adding honey at an equal amount in addition. The bitter of the black strap and sweetness of the honey seems complementary to me and I am liking the combination. I have another small batch in ferment now that will be sweetened with sorghum. I think that will also be a nice flavor.

Anyway, not to be disrespectful to my forefathers, this bread is delicious beyond my dreams. We sliced a few pieces from the smaller loaf and ate it with butter while still warm. It was soft and loaded with full deep flavor. The color is darker than it appears in the photos due to my wanting to show the detail. The 10 hour overnight bake at 240F in a sealed pan did the job. My thanks to Andy, Juergen, Franko, Shiao-Ping and Jeff Hamelman and Dan Lepard to name just a few who helped me get this far.


Crumb shot shows the course and dense nature of this bread.

There are several sub components of the formula. The amounts will make enough for one standard  steel bread pan and give you a 1Kilo loaf, pre bake weight. If you have a pullman pan, seal the top first with foil and then place the lid on.

150g Rye Chops
150g dark ale
25g active starter

Scalded Chops and Berries:
100g Rye Chops
150g boiling water
8g Salt

50g whole Rye Berries
100g Hot Ale

Final Dough:
120g Rye chops
Dark Rye Flour as needed for consistency (100g)
30g Black Strap Molasses
30g Honey


Combine sour and soakers the morning of the day you want to bake so they have 12 hours to age.
When preparing the dough, combine all the ingredients and mix well with a large spoon. Add Dark Rye flour as needed to lower hydration to a sticky paste. You want it to be wet enough you could not roll it. Stir every few minutes for 30 minutes and the paste will become sticky.
Prepare a 8x4 (approx) steel bread pan with side edges all around with butter or crisco.
Spoon paste into corners and level the top with a spatula. Now create an edge with the tip of the spatula and a slightly domed surface. The idea is to have a domed top so any water condensate will run down to the edge and down the sides of the loaf.
Brush the top with water.

Seal the top of your bread pan with a double layer of foil being carefull to get a good seal around the edges.

Put the pan in a preheated 350F oven for 30-45 minutes. Lower the heat to 240F and bake for 8-10 hours. I lower the heat to 220F for the last 2 of the 10 hours.

Decant the loaf and allow to cool on a wire rack for at least as long as it takes to cool completely. At this point you can wrap in saran or a tea towel for a day or so. This bread may be kept in a plastic bag on the counter or refrigerated. It would last a long time if you could keep from eating it.


Trishinomaha's picture

Help! - Need a substitue for caramel color

December 22, 2007 - 6:35am -- Trishinomaha

Until about a half an hour ago I'd never heard of the ingredient caramel color. KA Flour carrys it and it's called for in a pumpernickle bread recipe I want to try today. I'm going to check whole foods but am at a loss for any other local source here in Omaha. Does anybody have an idea what I could use as a substitute?

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