The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ever Added Kitchen Bouquet in Pumpernickel?

celestica's picture

Ever Added Kitchen Bouquet in Pumpernickel?

Has anyone ever added kitchen bouquet as colouring for pumpernickel?  It is a burnt caramel syrup with a little salt and essence of vegetables.  It is normally used to brown gravy or add flavour to stews/soups.  If so how much did you add?  I want to try it in Greenstein's pumpernickel.  I just made another pumpernickel that used espresso powder, chocolate, and prune juice but it had a yucky burnt flavour. 


PaddyL's picture

I have used Kitchen Bouquet in rye bread, or black bread, and you can't taste it at all.

celestica's picture

How much did you use?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I don't think it can be called pumpernickel.


mhjoseph's picture

Virtually every pumpernickel recipe I've seen calls for some sort of coloring agent.

pmccool's picture


What would German or Austrian bakers include in their pumpernickel breads?  How do they bake it?  And what color is their bread, as a result?

As others have noted, most U.S.-originated recipes include some sort of additive (cocoa, coffee, caramel, molasses, etc.) to make the bread dark.  This has been frustrating to me, since it is obvious that most of those ingredients would not have been available, or affordable, to use in a rough, peasant-style bread like pumpernickel.  



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

According to wikipedia, which is well written, "Traditional German pumpernickel contains no coloring agents, instead relying on the Maillard reaction to produce its characteristic deep brown color, sweet dark chocolate coffee flavor, and earthy aroma (however, it is not uncommon to use darkly toasted bread from a previous batch as a coloring agent)..."  And bakes up to about 26 hours at low temps in steam.  

In Austria we use the term Vollkornbrot for similar breads, and is presented in several regional varieties.  Pumpernickel is a German word not an Austrian one and even in Germany it is a regional bread.   Molasses may appear in some recipes but it is not standard.  The wiki explaination falls a bit short for vollkornbrot.

"Pumpernickel" as listed in my regional farmer's cookbook is a firm dessert cake, made with eggs, sugar & flour and contains grated nuts, dried apricots, pears & figs, cinnamon and lemon zest.  It is spread out on a sheet, baked and cut into small squares while hot. 


Oldcampcook's picture

Since you are using Greenstein's recipe, which I also use, why don't you just use his pumpernickel coloring?  I don't have the book here at work, but I remember it is somewhere around page 62 or thereabouts.


celestica's picture

Because I always have kitchen bouquet in the house, it's cheap and available at every grocery market.  It it's not yummy I'll order some caramel colouring but I'd rather not go to the trouble if I don't have to.

bobdrob's picture

my students have used molasses, cocoa powder & carmel color in our pumps. we decided that all 3 together yield a nice deep rich color with a pleasant flavor. I've had the kids avoid "blackjack"(gravy master/kitchen bouquet, etc) because they often have MSG & all its disguised cousins: hydrolized proteins, "natural flavor," autolysed whatever... along with other undesirable ingredients.  Not purist, but an attractive product. 

baltochef's picture

Although Kitchen Bouquet was always in my mother's pantry as we grew up, it is now recognized as one of the poorest flavoring agents sold in grocery stores..For anyone aspiring to bake good tasting bread I would urge them to look elsewhere for a different means to adding a dark color to pumpernickel bread..If there is a bakery nearby that makes dark colored rye breads I would suggest asking them if they would sell you some of their caramel coloring..Same thing if there is a bagel shop nearby where you could ask to purchase some dark barley malt syrup..If the bakery will agree to sell some malt syrup, or caramel coloring, then take them a 1-quart wide mouth Mason jar with an after-market plastic lid for them to fill up for you..Otherwise, there are dozens of internet sources that will ship these types of coloring agents to your home..


xaipete's picture

Do you think malt syrup is dark enough to color the rye, Bruce? If Kitchen Bouquet is just being used as a coloring agent, would that be so bad?


baltochef's picture


My main objection to Kitchen Bouquet, other than its foul taste, is the ingredients that go into making it..As bobdrob has stated, there are lots of things in Kitchen Bouquet that I do not wish to eat..

For my purposes, foods like Kitchen Bouquet strike right against the core principles that make me want to cook a meal from scratch using the best available ingredients..And, this includes baking bread from scratch..If other people are OK with using Kitchen Bouquet to cook with, then so be it..Each person has to choose for themselves what foods they, and their families, are going to consume..

I just feel that adding such a highly modified food, as Kitchen Bouquet is, to pumpernickel rye bread kinda detracts from the basic principles that TFL is espousing as it promotes home made artisan breads..

While other members here might disagree with my opinion, I have always felt that the term artisan bread meant that a lot of care and thought were going into the selection of the ingredients that would ultimately make up a loaf of artisan bread..For me at least, the highly refined and modified ingredients that make up the ingredients in Kitchen Bouquet eliminate it from any consideration in being used in my kitchen..

As far as the color of pumpernickel breads are concerned, lately I have taken to not adding ANY form of coloring agent to my pumpernickel breads..No cocoa (too bitter), no caramel coloring (too bitter, too highly refined), no roasted barley malt syrup (too bitter), and no molasses (too sweet)..Instead, I have started making my pumpernickel breads using only organic high-gluten bread flour and organic whole rye flour..This way I get the full rye flavor profile without the other tastes added by the darkening agents..I suppose these breads can not truly be labeled pumpernickel breads, because they are not dark brown in color..

Nonetheless, I want the full flavors of the rye to shine through without being diluted by barley malt syrup, cocoa, caramel coloring, or molasses..

Just my take on things!!..YMMV..


LindyD's picture

Bruce's take is actually rather mild when compared to Jeffrey Hamelman's opinion, which holds that adding such colorings is the bastardization of bread production and an insult to rye bread (pp 44-45).

JH points out that because European bread bakers were not wealthy men, and wood was costly, they would put bread into the oven at the end of the day in covered pans and bake it throughout the night.  The diminishing heat was gentle but thorough, and when the bread was removed from the pans the next morning, it was a rich deep brown because during the long slow bake the starches in the rye were converted to sugars.  

American production bakers added caramel color so they wouldn't have to bother with the slow and low heat baking process.  Fast bread is like fast food: little in the way of character and taste.

Kitchen Bouquet consists of caramel, a vegetable base of water, carrots, onions, celery, parsnips, turnips, salt, parsley, and spices, plus sodium benzoate and sulfiting agents.  I don't like Kitchen Bouquet in any food and certainly not in my bread.  Google sodium benzoate and sulfites.
cooknhotnaz's picture

I was able to get malt syrup very inexpensively (bring your own bucket deal) at the local brewer's store - where people get supplies to make their own beer and wine. They had quite a selection and I was able to get just what I wanted. You can get ambers and with or without hops and all kinds. Now I can mix my own and 'customize' the flavoring/coloring of my loaves. That is an idea for those who don't like to 'dilute' the flavors in the rye. Also - do a wash when it comes out instead of putting it in the loaf as an ingredient... don't know if that is what you were asking for.

dmsnyder's picture

Mini's authoritative response regarding "real" pumpernickel does not apply to Greenstein's pumpernickel. On the other hand, Greenstein's recipe does produce the kind of pumpernickel made in Jewish bakeries in the U.S. of A.

I have made this several times and use Caramel Coloring purchased from KAF. This gives a very subtle bitter flavor that, to my palate, makes it absolutely authentic fake/Jewish/Non-traditional-German pumpernickel.

Greenstein has a recipe for making your own caramel coloring, but I've never been brave enough to try it. (I think I was frightened as a baby by the sugar cube my grandmother held between her teeth when she drank her glass of tea.)

Anyway, here's a link with a photo of how my pumpernickel looks:


photojess's picture

not that I'm an expert, but I like having my rye on the light side, although most Americans have been brought up on the darker.  If this means not adding additives at home, then that's good!  My mom used to keep Kitchen Bouquet in her kitchen, and I don't think I have had any in 20 yrs~