The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pumpernickel with honey and dates

clazar123's picture

Pumpernickel with honey and dates

I had a real taste for a chewy rye and I always love dates and just a touch of honey so here is my version (first bake) of a great Pumpernickel. Included are my developments notes for the next bake.

A little overproofed but still delicious.


The crumb:

Moist, chewy and very smooth tasting. Not in the least sharp, tangy or sour. Almost buttery. Flavor noticeably better from day 2 to 3. Great  soft chewy kernels. Honey/sweet level is hardly detectable, as  with the spices,also. Salt a little low.



 A pasty dough.  More like a thick batter:


Dough-filled pan. I included the dough paddle for scale. Seeds on top and bottom.


After proof. It was probably 15 minutes too proofed after 1 1/2 hr. You can just see the water I poured over the top and in the corners before I tented the pan.


Tightly foiled. Left these on for 1 1/4 hr of 2 hr bake.


Phew! Big post! And there is still the recipe!



A very dense 100% rye that used an abbreviated process that yields a mellow, chewy loaf. It does not have a bulk fermentation and comes together like a batter bread. 


The evening before:

Make a starter with a very active starter (refreshed at least 3 times starting 2 days before) and cracked ryemeal. In 2 separate containers, soak whole rye kernels and cracked rye overnight.

The next morning:

Mix the starter and 2 rye soakers with remaining ingredients until cohesive. Pan, proof 1-1 ½ hrs. Bake about 3 hours. Wrap when cool. Serve in 1-2 days. 

The evening before   baking





Make   a cracked rye starter

Fermented   firm starter-refreshed 8 hrs before**

3   tbsp

50   g




1   cup

225   g



Cracked   rye

1   ¼ cups

225   g


** Use any starter. Mine was a thick batter but very active.

Dissolve the sourdough starter in the water, then stir in cracked rye. Cover and let it ferment 8-12 hours.


The evening before   baking





Soak   rye kernels

Whole   rye kernels

1/3   cup

70   g



Boiling   water

½   c + 1 TBSP

130   g


Stir together rye kernels and boiling water. Cover and let soak for 8-12 hrs.

Drain and discard any extra water before mixing kernels into final dough.


The evening before   baking





Soak   cracked rye

Cracked   rye

2/3   cup





2   tsp

11   g

11%   (2.3% overall)


Water,room   temp

1/3   cup + 1Tbsp

105   g


Stir all together, cover and soak for 8-12 hours.


Bake Day-







Soaked   rye kernels

Drain   and discard any water not absorbed by the kernels.




Soaked   cracked rye





Ryemeal   sourdough starter






¾   cup +2 TBSP




Rye   meal

1   2/3 cups




Sunflower   seeds Raw

¼   cup + 3 TBSP


14%   I used a mix of roasted pepitas and   sunflower seeds &added extra.


Medium   or dark rye flour

2   tbsp




Instant   yeast

1   tsp


1%   Consider reducing or leaving out if starter very active.



2-3   TBSP





6   whole-chopped


Needs   more. Didn’t taste any




3   tsp


Barely   noticeable. Leave as is.

Equal parts   by wt:




1   tsp





Mix by hand or in mixer. It may initially look like sand but it is done mixing when there is a cohesive, sticky dough. Mine was a very pasty, wet dough. 

Add a little water to mixing bowl after dough scooped out and use this to spoon over batter in pan just before putting in oven. 

My rye meal was more like coarse flour and my rye flour was almost a meal so this dough was more like a batter consistency and mixed fast and easily. 

I used Hodgsen Mills stone ground whole grain rye. It is a slightly coarse flour. 



  • Prepare bread pan by oiling well. Use seeds or meal to coat bottom and sides.
  • This dough filled 1 9x5 pan and 1 4x6 inch round can.
  • Fill pans ¾ full



Proofing went very quickly. Overproofed quickly,too. Poss. leave out or reduce extra yeast next time. Watch very carefully. 


  • Dock with wet toothpick
  • Spoon a generous amount of the dough water (see above) around the top of each loaf.
  • Tent tightly in foil to enclose for ½ the bake.
  • Preheat oven to 400F. Put loaf in oven and immediately reduce to 300F.
  • Bake with tent for 1 ¼ hrs then remove tent.
  • Bake for 45 minutes more and check internal temp.
  • Done when 207F internal temp.
  • Turn stove off and let sit in oven 30 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, cool slightly and depan.
  • Wrap loaves in cotton towel immediately after de-panning and allow to cool completely.
  • When cool, bag in plastic.Wait for 2 days before slicing.
  • Enjoy! 

DOUGH/LOAF WEIGHTS (The ingredient numbers and dough weights don’t match up. Even in the original recipe that this is based on, the totals were off. Even accounting for baking loss. I report what I actually weighed.


9x5 pan dough weight before bake:        1129g

9x5 pan loaf weight after bake:              1001g           11% moisture loss

4x6 can dough weight before bake:        477g

4x6 can loaf weight after bake                419g             11% moisture loss



  • Salt level seemed a touch low.
  • Spice level was probably perfect as it was barely noticeable-just a slight perfume.
  • Dates totally disappeared. I would like at least double the amount.
  • Texture and taste were much better on day 3 after the bake.
  • I believe the short fermentation on the starter/sour and overall short fermentation time probably reduced the sharpness of this dough. It is very mellow and almost buttery tasting.
  • Nice color but not too deep brown.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Yeah, I was wondering what happened to them.  What if you just split them and pack some dough inside of them,or toss them in as long sticks then let the slicing show off the dates. or  Drop them in whole, perpendicular to the way you want to slice them.  That way you get to see cross sections in the slices.  Could even get fancy and stuff the dates with dough dipped walnuts pieces? Apple or dried mango slivers?  

I was hoping to see your new action baking canisters.  :)

clazar123's picture

This bake was the impetus to finally look for the round baking "cans". The round form offers more flexibility in size of the loaf-just put less dough in the can for a smaller loaf or add foil and make it as tall as your oven will accommodate.

I am also working on a set of recipes that can be scaled down to a small loaf per bake without losing the essential qualities of the dough. This was my first run at a pumpernickel filled with whole and cracked berries. My other ryes were delicious but didn't have the "chew" I wanted. This dough has the qualities I wanted.

The bulk of the flour in this dough is not well fermented and I wonder how that will affect keeping qualities. For the next bake I will not add the extra teaspoon of yeast so the proof time should be a bit longer.  However, it may be awhile-and that is why I write notes on my recipe.

The recipe is not that well written up,yet.  Adding extra ingredients changed those numbers. I still need to work on the Baker's Percentage. Next go-around it will be nailed down a bit more.

I really have to get better at determining when rye is proofed enough-esp when it is covered in seeds and also so wet. I believe that the 1 1/4 hr. proof time would have been fine if I hadn't added the extra 1 tsp of yeast that was in the original recipe. My starter was plenty active.

I also do wonder if the consistency was too wet. My starter was not a firm starter and I did not reduce the added water at the final mix. It was very easy to work with, though. No hands-on handling- it was like working with a thick cake batter. Only touched by the mixer and scraper.

The bake instructions I both liked and didn't like. The total bake time was a lot shorter than most pumpernickel bakes and I really liked that. The original recipe called for the water being poured over the top but I added the tenting. It seemed like too long a bake with an exposed dough. I know what overbaked wholeberry-included dough can be like and it is WAY beyond toothsome-more like tooth-breaking. Am I right in thinking that the 400F initial bake "set" the crumb and the long lower (300F) temp then baked off the moisture and induced a maillard reaction?

The mis-en-place is essential and very easy. The assembly is fast and you really need to pay attention during this time-esp to the proofing. Baking is a little longer than other breads but not too long. Tenting is important. The hard part was not slicing into this bread for 2 days! I recommend 3 as the flavor difference was notable.

Comments welcome.



trailrunner's picture

My son is going in to a restaurant/brewery business and he and the other partner want me to make the breads. They want this type of rich rye for smorrebrod. I will look forward to your " final" write up after you try this again. I am not clear on some of the points but will refrain from too many questions until you post again. Looks to be the perfect addition to the menu they are planning. Thank you and I shall stand by. c

clazar123's picture

I am on a very long-between-bake schedule as I am the only bread-eater. :) It may be a while before I finesse this recipe.

Ask away.

A few ideas: There was a challenge on making whole grain ryes and there were wonderful write-ups and recipes.

There were also spin-off posts from this challenge.

Additionally, hanseata, the original poster on that challenge, has a wonderful blog. Here is her info:

Another user,dabrownman, has wonderful posts on whole grain breads. He was also a talented photographer so his posts were lovely. I don't believe he is still available but his posts are.

Good luck!

trailrunner's picture

in at least one place you mention baking for 3 hrs but then it looks like you were closer to 2 hrs. I also would like to know how you got cracked rye berries ? You said the meal was just coarse rye flour from Hodgson Mills ? You toasted the pepitas but not the sunflower seeds ?  I think that is all. I have seen the challenge you mention and Dab's posts as well and do follow Karen's blog so have made notes on their ryes. Thank you and will get to baking asap. Brewery will be opening in about a year so I have lots of time to experiment . c

clazar123's picture

Baking tie

The original recipe called for baking 2-1 hours. I baked it for 1 1/4 hrs.tented,removed the tent and baked about 45 minutes more. At that point the internal temp. of the loaf was 207F. At that point I turned the oven off and left it in the cooling oven for about 30 minutes. I did this based on something I read about maintaining the temp around 207 for 30 minutes or so. Can't find the reference now but I was reading multiple sources to determine what I wanted to do. So that's 1.25 hr +.75hr.= 1 hr 55 min with the oven on. And then 30 min. with the oven off.

Cracked Rye:

I had a small quantity of cracked rye from a store but it wasn't enough for the recipe. I tried running my whole rye berries through my blender and what I ended up with was a mix of rye meal, small pieces and large pieces of cracked rye berries. Moral of the story-a blender is not a good grain cracker. Several Loafers suggested my coffee grinder would have been more effective.The store bought rye meal was much more uniform in size than mine but I used what I had.

Rye meal:

I tried making rye meal by using my Nutrimill grain grinder on the coarsest setting. I expected to get a texture resembling cream of wheat cereal or coarse corn meal. However, it was finer- more like a coarse flour. I used this as meal since it was what I had.

Rye flour:

I used Hodgsen Mill Stone Ground rye flour. It turns out that this particular flour is ground a little coarse and was not much finer than my home ground rye meal. So, in essence, the rye meal and the rye flour were very similar in texture and I'm sure it affected the texture of the crumb. Another reason to do some product development and your own recipe using the ingredients you will be using in your bakes. Different ingredients can yield different results. A finer flour, a coarser meal-dfferent textures are produced in the final loaf.

Pepita/sunflower seeds:

I had a bag of mixed roasted,not salted sunflower and pepita seeds. Raw seeds can be used as well but should not be salted. I used what I had on hand already.

Whole Rye Berries:

I have bought all kinds of grain in bulk bins at grocery stores-usually organic stores or even Whole Foods. Alternatively, Bob's Red Mill sells rye berries. If you are a brewery, your grain supplier should be able to supply you once you get going.

Please work with the same ingredients you will be supplied with for your business and develop this recipe to your satisfaction. Hodgsen Mill rye flour may behave very differently from KA rye flour which may behave very differently from a generic rye flour.  Don't rely on my baker's percentages as they aren't too accurate yet! This was a writeup of a first run.

Have some delicious fun!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

is a good idea.  I think in doing so you will discover that rushing rye rises just isn't worth the tiny working window for proofing.  You also get more action and sweetness from the slightly longer fermentation.  When I saw the pan ready to bake, several things stand out.  

As you mentioned over proofed, another is an uneven rise and that may have to do with where the pan is standing, on stone, might want to put it on a rack for more even temperatures during the rise.  Compared to the original fill level, don't let it rise over the edge of the pan.  I zoomed in on that front corner and it got fuzzy but I think I see a bit of gas escaping from small broken bubbles.   You could also use your wet spatula and push the dough sideways back toward the middle of the loaf, gently without tearing about half an hour before the picture was taken.  

Bubbles rising upward too quickly, near over proofing stage, make the smooth surface "lumpy" another sign to watch out for and avoid.  After topping with seeds, use the spatula or wet finger tips to level out the seeds so any unevenness is more visible.  Don't worry about filling in all the dough spaces, go ahead and cover everything.  If the seeds are levelled, they will tell you quicker than the dough surface to get moving on to baking.

With the oven temps, I find it is better shoving the loaf in a little early with slightly lower temp upwards of 350°F and rising (still preheating) until 400°F or 430°F holding it there for 20 minutes and finishing the bake with that close to 400°F (200°C) setting, than lowering it too early.   Maybe it is just my oven having a hard time maintaining 400° but I finish the bake higher than Maillard temps.  

This happened first more as an accident when the fermentation caught me by surprise but I find myself liking the results.  I also remove the tent and with a shiny pan put the naked loaf onto the oven rack to brown it all around.  After cooling 6 hours, I wrap it tightly with oiled foil or bag it pressing the air out, then wait for the moisture to shift to the surface before slicing and/or freezing.  

clazar123's picture

Thank you, Mini. As usual, I learned something. You have very astute observational skills!


I knew when I looked at the loaf that the bubbles you and I saw indicated it was probably overproofed-something I learned from another Mini post. :) I immediately took the picture, docked it and put it in the preheated oven. What isn't easy to see in my pic is that there was a very slight dome to the dough before I put it into the oven-it sank in the middle on baking.

Using the seeds on top to indicate what is happening underneath is a great idea. I will also be more sensitized to looking for the lumpiness/unevenness. I can usually tell by feel how pillowy a dough is but not with a battery dough like this. Good to have a visual clue.

I will not use the yeast next time. The starter with the rye meal provides a lot of fermentation but I want a little more. I agree that rye needs time. With this recipe, I am trying to get a faster but still good tasting pumpernickel. Reasonable compromise.

Location of proof-worse than on stone

Your comment about proofing on stone is very interesting and I will remember for future proofs but this batch actually proofed in my microwave with the light on. Nice and toasty but out of visual range for me. Your comment, however, really emphasized to me that I really need to SEE the dough (esp. rye) when it is proofing. The microwave is above my head so I did check the loaves a few times but it was difficult for me to SEE much more than an edge. I am short. I have a Brod and Taylor proofer tucked away nicely and from now on I will bring it out for rye and any other loaf I need to really monitor the proofing. The microwave will be used for bulk fermentation and starters. I will chalk this up to learning how to function in my "new" space.


With the oven temps, I find it is better shoving the loaf in a little early with slightly lower temp upwards of 350°F and rising (still preheating) until 400°F or 430°F holding it there for 20 minutes and finishing the bake with that close to 400°F (200°C) setting, than lowering it too early.   Maybe it is just my oven having a hard time maintaining 400° but I finish the bake higher than Maillard temps.  

I may need some clarification on this point.

What you are saying is that you:

  • Start preheating your oven to 400F and put the dough in the oven when it reaches at least 350F.
  • Let the oven continue on to 400-430F,
  • Hold at 400-430F for at least 20 minutes .
  • Check internal temp and
  • Finish bake at 400F to the desired internal temp.

Did I get that right?

What IS the ideal temp. This recipe had it at 207F.

At what point in the bake do you remove the tent? Almost at the end? Does this allow enough moisture to bake off without drying the crust? ( When the crust dries on this dough it really is a brick!)

This is day 5 on these loaves. Today they get sliced and frozen. I will taste it again. Every day the taste has been slightly different-slightly tangier and better afterflavor.

Thank you! 





Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Remove the tent near the end.  You have more experience with this wet recipe than I do so you know the outcome precisely.  Don't bake any bricks on my account.  I do notice my crust softening up when wrapped tightly.  I really like that Walmart 3er (lasagna) pan, I can pour water into any empty sections for steam and with the small oven practically eliminate the foil cover.   

I don't check internal temp until the bake is finished.  205°F  is what I aim for.  Higher if wheat is involved.  I also don't bake with a stone.  Curious how the WFO will bake 100% rye loaves... some tweaking will be involved.   I have a stack of enamelled pans that can be used as steam generators as well as food pots.  

Right now I'm in bed with a cold.  First Hubby, coughing & high fever, doctor visit and antibiotics.   Knowing this is so contagious, I baked ahead yesterday in the neighbouring apartment.  Wished I had thrown a chicken into a soup pot as well.  My head started stuffing up in the wee hours and I'm hopefully more ahead of this bug than my husband.  After all, with him down... who's taking care of me?  No sore throat warnings, at first it looked like heat stroke.  I also mixed up some shortbread (not exactly sick bed food) from the cornflour thread and the dough rolls are in a refrigerator nearby.  Might freeze most of the dough, should keep well in the refrigerator, no eggs just butter sugar and flour.  

I baked a 60% rye last night and handed the fresh hot loaf with cooling rack directly to the new arrivals at camp.  I traded bread for chocolate.  :)   Don't know who made the better deal.

trailrunner's picture

thank you both for having this conversation. Learned a lot as usual. Will definitely proceed cautiously with the products I will have on hand. I plan to have a mock mill so will be able to grind as I please. The brewery is putting in ovens for me so I have some thinking to do on that score. Will be posting for more info as to what would be best as an all around oven. Thanks again to you both. c

clazar123's picture

I wondered from the start what the tradeoffs would be on a "fast" pumpernickel. There are always tradeoffs.

Keeping quality is the tradeoff. The bread was wrapped in a clean cotton towel for 24 hours and then bagged in plastic, whole (not sliced.) for 2 days on the kitchen counter. 

End of day 2- I couldn't wait any longer. Sliced of 1 piece-delicious!

Day 3-sliced off what I wanted for breakfast. Loaf left in plastic bag on counter.

On day 4 I sliced the entire loaf. I'll mention I had very clean hands because in my experience there is usually a big difference in food preservation when touching food.

On day 5, I noted a small spot of mold on the outside of a slice in the middle of the loaf. I removed the 3 slices affected (1 on either side of the small mold spot) and promptly put the whole loaf into the freezer. Now I take it out as wanted.

I have made whole grain naturally leavened doughs often and usually they last a longer time before molding. The difference, I believe, was that all the flour fermented for a good period of time in those doughs. This dough had a high percentage of minimally fermented flour (the proof in the pan immediately after mixing).