Jewish pumpernickel is one of my favorite breads. I have made it only a couple times before, once from Greenstein's recipe in "Sectets of a Jewish Baker" and once from Reinhart's recipe in BBA. But I've never really followed Greenstein's recipe to the letter, because I've never had any stale rye bread with which to make altus. Well, a few weeks ago, I put what was left of a loaf of Greenstein's Sour Rye bread in the freezer with which to make altus, and this weekend I made "real" Jewish Pumpernickel using altus, pumpernickel flour and first clear flour.
For those not in the know, altus is stale rye bread with the crust cut off, cut into cubes and soaked in water, then wrung out and incorporated into the dough of a new loaf of rye or pumpernickel. It is said to have a beneficial effect on the texture of the bread, and my experience certainly corroborates this.
Greenstein uses cold water and lets the altus soak overnight. My schedule did not permit this so I used hot water, and it saturated the rye bread cubes in 10 minutes. Wringing it out only resulted in first degree burns.
I'm not uploading a "crumb shot." The crumb was very handsome, but it was the texture that was remarkable. It was a bit chewy but with a "creamy" mouth feel. It was simply the best pumpernickel of this type I have every had the pleasure of eating.
My idea of a good time is a slice of this bread, smeared with cream cheese and eaten with eggs scrambled in slightly browned butter. It's pretty darn good with a slice of lox, too.
Anyone into baking Jewish rye breads who hasn't made Greenstein's Pumpernickel using the ingredients he specifies is missing a real treat!