The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Tips for Reinhart's Bavarian Pumpernickel?

SulaBlue's picture

Tips for Reinhart's Bavarian Pumpernickel?

While I said I was tired of rye, I still haven't done a true pumpernickel. My husband loves dark, bitter breads. It doesn't seem to get much darker or more bitter than this. I think I'm going to bake a light rye on the side so -I- have something to eat this week, too!

Has anyone used the recipe for this from Reinhart's "Whole Grain Breads" pg 224-227 (Hey, nothing intimidating about 3 pages of instructions, right!?).

I've converted a bit of my spelt starter over to a mostly-rye starter, and I've got a bit of my wholegrain sourdough that I made last week (The 'Dr. Evil Bread' as I called it) cubed up and soaking to make the altus for it. Heck, I even went out and bought a candy/deep fryer thermometer just for this after having my yogurt not quite cooperate last week for the sourdough English muffins (FWIW, you -can- do a second innoculation of yogurt that's in a yogurt maker if it isn't curdling properly!).

Reading the instructions 2-3 times is one thing. Having any commentary from someone who's actually made this would be invaluable. I still can't find truly coarse-grind (pumpernickel grind) flour anywhere, and I'm just not willing to buy it, so I've got some of Bob's Red Mill Dark Rye for this project. I'll be omitting the optional diastatic malt powder. I do have the rye berries - should I throw some into the food processor use that in the mash where it asks for "whole rye meal or rye flour" rather than sticking with just the dark rye?

xaipete's picture

When I was trying to make rye chops last week I put some rye berries in my blender. I was surprised to see that the blender did a pretty good job of making a very coarse grind--no chops, but I did get flour.


SulaBlue's picture

I'm very excited about this bread. It's so very different than anything I've done before. Due to the very specific temperatures listed in Reinhart's recipe I went out and had my husband buy me a set of thermometers - one for liquids, a probe thermometer that actually makes it to 200F instead of guessing, and a thermometer for inside the oven. It turns out that my oven is off by -75 degrees F!!!- Is it any wonder I keep setting off the smoke alarm well before things should be 'done' if I don't watch them like a hawk? No more of that, now, for sure!

My mash is in the oven (which is now off) inside a le creuset saucepan with the lid on. I wanted to leave it for the max 3 hours allowed. I ended up using just the Bob's Red Mill flour as I decided it was coarse enough - almost moreso than stone ground whole wheat.

The sponge is a bit intimidating. I think I might name it The Colon Bomb. It looks like someone rolled up a lump of wet sawdust and wood chips. The consistency was just this side of modeling clay - and twice as sticky. How in the world do you get this off your hands?! I can't really imagine this stuff doubling in size. Reinhart says it could take up to 8 hours, or even longer. It's cool in the house - hovering around 70F, so I know that we're looking at the 'longer' side. I'm wondering if it might be OK to leave it overnight along with the mash, esp as it will get cooler in the house this evening - probably down to around 67 or 68F.

boilerbaker's picture

I was one of Peter's many testers for this book, and I loved to test the recipes that used rye flour. Since I was testing many recipes, I did invest in a small, inexpensive hand grain grinder.  I already have an old Whisper Mill grinder to grind wheat and rye berries to make fresh flour, but for small amounts, the hand grinder works--or a blender, or spice grinder, food processor, etc.  Anyway, the recipe is worth all the steps if you like rye breads.  

A sticky dough is best controlled using water.  I simply wet down a clean area on my counter, then with wet hands and a bench knife or scraper, it's easier to work with the dough.  I also invested in a good instant thermometer.

SulaBlue's picture

This dough was so wet, so sticky! It was like trying to knead grainy oatmeal. Not at all like 'modeling clay' despite my having added in perhaps an extra half ounce of flour during adjustments. I didn't even attempt to shape my loaf. I just rolled it out of the bowl it was doing the 20 minute rise in so that it formed a rough batard/torpedo shape and then shaped it once it was in the pan. I did my kneading in the bowl that I'd mixed it in - not daring to risk my pastry cloth. Despite oiling my hands I still had dough clumping on my fingers and ended up having to scrape it off of my hands, then scrub them with a vegetable scrubber. Oy.


On the upswing, I'm SO glad I didn't omit the "optional" cocoa powder, even though it made for an extra trip to the store. The faint smell of chocolate has made up for quite a bit.

SulaBlue's picture

Sorry, posting glitch!

SulaBlue's picture

Like so many, I became impatient and couldn't resist cutting into the loaf early. It came out of the oven around 2pm or so and, after letting it cool in the open for a good 3 hours I wrapped it up in a clean towel and set it on the counter in hopes of actually making it the full 24 hours.

Hubby and I cut into it about an hour ago. Meh. The inside is very moist, almost gummy. Enough so that I don't think that waiting the full 24 hours would have done anything to help. I'm wondering if it's too late to stick it back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes? I knew that this would be a dense, moist bread but this is just obviously underdone. I've seen the packaged slices of similar breads that look 'wet' in the package. I'm a bit confused, really, as the internal temperature did reach 200F.

You can also still taste the cocoa, though the odor isn't as prominent as it was, and you don't really taste it after the first bite. I'm hoping that that is something that will continue to mellow out as time goes on. The flavor of the bread itself is very complex, starting off somewhat sweet and then ending very bitter.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

You just have to wait for it to set completely!  You stumbled upon a good tip: always bake another loaf at the same time so you have something to eat for the next two days while the pumpernickle is cooling and setting up.  :)

Give it two days, it will set up. The loaf needs that time for the moisture to migrate from the middle of the loaf out to the crust.  When the bread has cooled, place into a plastic bag or wrap tightly with plastic wrap and just leave it alone.  Slices should be about 1/8 to 1/5 of an inch thick.  Oil or wet your knife first before slicing, a sharp thin knife cuts better than a serrated one.  It can happen that where the loaf was cut too early, the first few slices will come out crumbly but, that's the price you pay!

"I've seen the packaged slices of similar breads that look 'wet' in the package."

Sometimes the package has a very thin coat of oil inside it, you can do the same by putting a couple of drops into an empty bag and rubbing it from the outside to distribute it. 


SulaBlue's picture

It was actually goopy inside. It stuck to my knife in clumps. It's honestly not much dryer in the center than it was before going in.

SCruz's picture

Were you ever successful in baking this bread? Any tips? I just got back from Germany and would love to be able to bake it.