The Fresh Loaf

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dmsnyder's picture


George Greenstein's “Secrets of a Jewish Baker” is a wonderful source for traditional New York-style Jewish baked goods. It has been criticized for giving ingredients in volume measurements only, though. I have previously provided Greenstein's formula for Jewish Sour Rye with ingredient weights, but I realized today that I had never done this for another of my favorite Greenstein breads – Pumpernickel. So, here is Greenstein's pumpernickel formula converted to weights.

This is Jewish pumpernickel. It is moist and chewy. It is not the dry, dense German-style pumpernickel. I make it generally as long loaves, as pictured. However, you can also make it as round loaves, in which case you should "dock" the loaves by making 6-10 holes in the top with a skewer or ice pick, rather than scoring them across with 3 slashes. You can also make this bread in loaf pans, in which case I would score them with a single slash along the center of the long axis.

The recipe that follows is taken from Secrets of a Jewish Baker, by George Greenstein. The ingredient amounts are both those Greenstein specifies and the ingredient weights I actually used. The procedures are adapted from Greenstein's.


Volume (per Greenstein)

Amount (per dmsnyder)

Warm water

1 cup

240 gms


1 pkg active dry

7.5 gms instant

Rye sour

1 cup

250 gms

Altus (optional)

1 cup

1 cup

Pumpernickel color

4 tablespoons

1 tablespoon caramel color

Common (First Clear) flour

2 ½ to 3 ½ cups

350-400 gms

Pumpernickel flour

1 cup

115 gms


1 tablespoon

8 gms

Caraway seeds (optional)

1 tablespoon

Not used

Cornstarch solution

(see below)


Notes on ingredients:

1. Rye sour: This is a rye sourdough starter. You can make it from scratch. You also can easily convert a wheat flour sourdough starter to a rye sour by feeding a small amount of your existing starter with rye flour and refreshing it a couple of times.

2. Altus: This is “old” rye bread cut into small pieces, soaked in water until saturated and wrung out. It was originally a way for bakers to re-use bread they hadn’t sold. "Waste not. Want not." However, it does make for a more tender and flavorful bread and has become traditional. It is optional. I keep hunks of leftover rye bread in a plastic bag in my freezer to use as altus.

3. Pumpernickel color: This is really optional but is necessary to give the "black" color expected of pumpernickel. It also gives the bread a subtle bitter undertone without which it just doesn't taste "right." You can use 1 tablespoon of powdered caramel color, instant espresso cof

fee or cocoa powder. I use powdered caramel coloring from King Arthur’s Baker’s Catalogue.

4. Pumpernickel flour: This is whole grain, coarsely ground rye flour. You can use dark rye flour, but it won’t be quite the same. I get pumpernickel flour from King Arthur’s Baker’s Catalogue. Like other whole grains, it will spoil in time. I keep it in my freezer in a 1 gallon Ziploc bag.

5. Common flour: This is also known as first clear flour. Its definition gets into esoteric grain milling stuff, but it is necessary for authentic Jewish rye breads, including pumpernickel. It also makes wonderful sourdough breads as a substitute for bread flour or a mix of white and whole wheat flours. I get First Clear flour from King Arthur’s Baker’s Catalogue.

6. Cornstarch solution: Mix 1 ½ tablespoons of cornstarch in 1/4 cup cold water. Pour this into 1 cup of gently boiling water in a sauce pan, whisking constantly. Boil until slightly thickened. Set aside. It can be kept refrigerated for a few days in a sealed jar or covered bowl.

7. Caraway seeds: I don’t use them in pumpernickel, myself. You can add other things to pumpernickel, though, such as flax seeds (soaked overnight), sunflower seeds, raisins, minced onion.



Mixing (by hand. See Note below for mixing with a stand mixer.)

In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water to soften; stir to dissolve. (If using instant yeast, mix it with the flour, don’t dissolve it. Add the water to the rye sour and mix.) Add the rye sour, altus (if desired), pumpernickel color, pumpernickel flour, 2 ½ cups of common flour, and salt. Mix thoroughly until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead, adding small amounts of flour as needed. Make the dough a bit stiffer than normal, since this dough softens as it is kneaded. Knead the dough until it feels smooth and silky (5-8 minutes).

Note: I mix in a KitchenAid mixer. I put all the ingredients in the bowl and, using the paddle, mix well at Speed 1. Scrape the dough off the paddle and replace it with the dough hook. Knead at Speed 2 for about 8-10 minutes. If you do not use altus, the dough should form a ball on the hook and clean the sides of the bowl. With altus, even when an additional 50 gms of flour is added, the dough does not clean the bowl. I then hand knead until the dough is smooth and silky.


Shape the dough into a ball, place in a large oiled bowl, and turn to coat. Cover and let rise until doubled in size.

Shaping & Proofing

Punch out all the air, cut in half and shape into rounds, and let rest for 10 minutes.

Shape into round loaves, long loaves or pan loaves. If baking free form, place the two loaves on a baking sheet sprinkled with coarse cornmeal. (Or on parchment paper if baking on a stone, which I prefer.) Cover and proof until doubled in size. (About 90 minutes, or more depending on room temperature). Brush with cornstarch solution. Score the loaves across if long dock them if round. If using caraway, sprinkle seeds on the top of the loaves.


Bake with steam in a preheated 375F oven until tapping the bottom of the loaf produces a hollow sound (30-45 minutes). The internal temperature should be at least 190F. If the crust seems soft, bake 5-10 minutes more. (The crust should be very firm when you take the loaves out of the oven. It will soften as the bread cools.)

Note: I use a pizza stone for baking free form loaves. I heat it at least 1 hour before baking. I produce steam by preheating a cast iron skillet filled with lava rocks in the oven along with the stone and, right after putting my loaves in, pouring 1 cup of boiling water into the skillet. Be careful you don’t scald yourself with the steam!


After baking, place on a rack to cool and brush again with the cornstarch solution. Let cool thoroughly before slicing and eating.

This type of pumpernickel is one of the breads we always had in the house when I was a child. I usually ate it un-toasted, spread with cream cheese. My grandmother ate it spread with sourcream. I think this pumpernickel is especially good with smoked fish or herring, and it is my favorite bread to eat with scrambled eggs.

Unfortunately, my wife isn't as fond of pumpernickel as I am, so I also made one of her favorites – the Cinnamon-Raisin-Walnut Bread from BBA.


Submitted to Yeastspotting 


gcook17's picture

Doesn't it drive you crazy when you scale a formula down to a size you can make at home and you end up needing .011 oz. of yeast? You can do this if you have a scale that will measure in grains or fractions of grams.  A grain is a unit of weight that is 1/7000 of a pound or about 1/438 of an oz.  When I'm making poolish for my home-size batch of croissants and find that I need .005 oz. of yeast it's an easy matter to weigh out 2 grains of yeast.  It's not that I need extreme precision (if I did then I'd weigh out 2.2 grains of yeast) but when I see what a tiny amount of yeast 2 grains is, I know that if I had to estimate it by volume I could easily use two or three times too much.

Fortunately, you don't have to buy an expensive lab-quality scale to weigh things in grains, or tenths of grains.  Reloading scales are relatively inexpensive and easy to find.  There are both digital ones and beam balances.  The benefit of having a digital is that they have a tare button so you can avoid doing arithmetic.  Any sporting goods store that sells reloading equipment will probably sell these for an affordable price.  Midway USA has one for as low as $35:***731*** and Cabela's has some at

I have these from my days of competitive rifle shooting.  I only use the digital scale now and almost always use it for yeast, salt, malt powder, and anything else I need tiny amounts of.  The digital reads out in either tenths of a grain or hundredths of a gram.  It can be precisely calibrated with the weights and although that is a good idea when weighing out gunpowder, I don't do it all that often for baking.


Salome's picture

We've got so many jars and tins and boxes and bottles in our house. I "digged" in our cellar and found an old jar of dried apples. Dried 1998, surprisingly still look alright. Found a bag of organic buckwheat flour which my parents brought home from the Bretagne, France some holidays ago. And found a glass with some kind of Estonian instant Buckwheat which our Estonian exchange student left here two years ago. Everything looked alright, smelled alright, felt alright, I decided: It's time to use it!

End of August - The fall is coming! What about an Buckwheat Apple Bread, that sounds good and seasonal. It just had to be created. That's where I came into play. I intensified the apple flavor trough some cider, which we had in our cellar as well, and added a little bit of pear honey as well. Rather easy, utterly delicious.

The apple and the buckwheat are not only on the picture a nice couple, I found that the light sweetness and the sour tang of the apple worked very well with the nutty buckwheat flavor. Especially the crunchy loaf had a very interesting mouth feel!

Buckwheat Apple Sourdough


liquid levain
100 g buckwheat flour
125 ml cider
15 g mature starter

final dough
385 g bread flour
15 g Vital Wheat Gluten
230 ml cider (start with 200 ml and add more cider as required)
12 g salt
a little less than 1 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp pear honey ("Birnel"), can be substituted by any sweetener
40 g dried apple rings, chopped
1/2 cup whole buckwheat


  1. Mix the ingredients for the liquid levain, put aside for 12 hours.

  2. pour some hot water over the whole buckwheat and let it soak for a while.

  3. In the meantime, mix the liquid levain, the flour, the Vital Wheat Gluten and cider and let it autolyse for some time. I let it sit for about 15 minutes, as long as it took to clean up after lunch. Watch out with the amount of cider added, I had to juggle a bit with some extra flour and extra cider until I found the right consitency, a tacky but not sticky dough.

  4. strain the buckwheat berries and let it drip off well.

  5. mix the final dough, but don't add the apple chunks and the buckwheat yet. Knead until the gluten is developed, then incorporate the apple pieces and about 2/3 of the buckwheat berries.

  6. Let the dough ferment for about 1.5 hours, with one fold after 40 minutes.

  7. Divide the dough into two, shape two boules. I rolled one in the leftover buckwheat berries and let it proof on the board, the other one proofed in a proofing basket.

  8. after the proofing, I decorated the second boule with an apple sign (Cut out an apple out of paper, mist the boule, place the apple on the loaf and dust the loaf now with flour. Take the apple paper away and in the oven it goes).

  9. Bake the loaves on a preheated baking stone with steam at 430°F, lower the temperature when the loaves take on to much color. (I finished baking at 400°, after about 40 minutes of baking in total)

  10. let it cool on a rack and enjoy plain, with butter or with a mild cheese.

Simply autumn, doesn't it look like it?

No other pictures of the "sleek" apple loaf, I gave it away to somebody who has borrowed me her car for my driver's license preparation a couple times. Of course I couldn't cut into it. ;)


Shiao-Ping's picture

Didier Rosada is our instructor at Artisan III course at the San Francisco Baking Institute.  The course is intensive in technical knowledge as in baking schedule.  Didier is an incredible instructor with amazing energy; he "trained and led the Bread Bakers Guild Team USA to first place victory in the bread category at the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie in Paris in 1996."

I chose to blog this bread because, as Didier said, this bread is what bread was like "in his grandfather's days" (he came from south of France), also because back home I don't normally have the luxury of baking big size breads.






First Levain Build - Day one at 2:30 pm

  • 64 g high extraction flour*

  • 76 g water

  • 16 g liquid starter @100% hydration

Mix all ingredients until well incorporated with desired temperature of 21C/70F and allow to ferment 16 hours at room temp 18 - 21C/65 - 70F.

* If high extraction flour is not available, substitute with 80% white bread flour and 20% whole wheat flour.

Second Levain Build - Day two @6:30 am

  • 388 g high extraction flour*

  • 466 g water

  • 2 g salt

  • 156 g all of first levain build

(The SFBI staff did this levain build for us.)  Mix all ingredients until well incorporated with desired temperature of 21C/70F and allow to ferment 8 hours at room temperature 18 - 21C/65 - 70F.

Final Dough - Day two @2:30 pm

  • 263 g bread flour

  • 88 g high extraction flour*

  • 88 g medium rye flour

  • 97 g water (@55F)

  • 17 g salt

  • 1,012 g all of the second levain build**

Total dough weight 1,565 g and total dough hydration 72%

**Note: the total levain is 230% of final dough flour.

  1. Mix all ingredients in first speed of your mixer until well incorporated about 3 - 4 minutes.

  2. Switch to second speed (approx. the 4th gear on home Kitchen Aid mixer) for 2 - 3 minutes until medium strength of gluten development.

  3. First fermentation in mixing bowl for 30 minutes.

  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured work bench and pre-shape to light ball.

  5. Rest 20 - 30 minutes.

  6. Shape into a boule and place in a well dusted linen-lined basket.

  7. Proof retarding overnight at 8 - 9C/46 - 58 F (in this case 18 hours).

Bake - Day three @10:15 am

  1. One hour before baking, turn on your oven to pre-heat to 450F.

  2. Score (or stencil) your dough any way you like (a traditional score is diamond score; I did a stencil of three overlapping circles with three scores).

  3. Bake for one hour with steam before and right after the dough is loaded onto your baking stone.

  4. Cool before slice.




Didier used my Miche as demo to explain that this bread was how bread was made in the old days and that its flavor was quite sour.   The sour taste is too strong for my liking but apparently many people in the U.S. like the strong sour taste and, surprisingly for me, almost all the other Aussies in the class like it too.  I was told that these days in France however, people generally don't like it too sour. 





If I were to do this Miche again, the following are the changes I would incorporate: 

  1. Hand mix to achieve a more open crumb;

  2. Increase total dough hydration to 76% at least, also for more open crumb; and

  3. To cut down the sourness by reducing the levain as a % of final dough flour from 230% to 120% or lower (in which case the shaped dough will proof at room temperature for an hour or two before goes into the retarder and for shorter time).

  4. I like the flour profile and will make no change in that.  



p.s.  I asked Didier if I could blog this formula with his picture and the answer was a very happy yes to me.  Thank you, Didier.

gtprice's picture

For more years than I care to remember, Ive had an urge to make bread using natural leavening, ever since I picked up a lttle booklet on "Sourdough Bread," which included a packet of "sour dough starter;" at the San Franciso Airport while on a business trip long before my retirement in 1987. Mostly my efforts have been a disaster; because, I now believe, I've concentrated on the "sour dough" concept, trying to capture and propegate "natural yeasts," I must have a brown thumb when it comes to raising wild yeasts!!!!! Recently I abandoned my fixation on "sour dough" for I'm really not that into the unique taste; and now believe that what I really yearn for is the ability to make a good loaf of bread with leavening that I have nurtured from an initial package of store bought yeast, without any further use of such. It just seems so unnatural to have to buy and use a package of store bought yeast every time I make a loaf of bread. If I have to buy the yeast I might just as well buy a loaf of bread!!!! Today I produced my first loaf of edible bread using only 1 cup of flour, and two cups of, what amounts to a third generation, sponge.

I did this using a bread machine, because I'm also not that into hand kneading, and all that sticky dough.  

So here's my recipe

Starter: First Day - Two cups warm water, 1 tbsp suger, two cups all purpose flour. 1 pkg yeast.

           Second Day - Two cups warm water, 1 tbsp sugar, two cups all purpose flour

           Third Day - Remove two cups sponge, place in bread machine bucket. Allow to breed for several hours. Add 1 cup flour, and process on basic bread cycle. Then add two cups of water, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 cups flour to remainder of sponge.

Repeat third day routine for each subsequent loaf.

So all you "Artisen Bread" bakers out there - sent me your comments - favorable, or not!!!!!!

chouette22's picture

Struan is the bread that truly launched his bread baking career, Reinhart says (p. 102). In Gaelic, struan means “the convergence or confluence of streams,” a good description for multigrain breads where all kinds of grains and seeds are coming together (the combinations are, of course, endless).

Because I love breads full of grains and seeds, I have bought Peter Reinhart’s book “Whole Grain Breads.” Most of the recipes in there consist of three parts: a soaker (part of the flour, the seeds and grains and part of the salt are soaked in water or often in milk, buttermilk or yoghurt for 12-24 hours), a biga (to be refrigerated for at least 8 hours or up to three days) and the final dough.

The flour for this multigrain Struan is whole wheat (67%) and to it I added in about equal parts: sesame, pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds, and millet (seeds and grains 33%). Reinhart says that he prefers to cook the millet, but it can also be added to the soaker uncooked. I prefer it that way since it gives a beautiful crunch to the bread that we like very much.

I made a school lunch with this bread for my 15 year-old son and thought he’d tell me upon his return to never use such a seedy bread again. To my big surprise he announced that this was the best sandwich ever.

For guests I made one of my favorite desserts. It’s a Swiss recipe called “Quarktorte” which in English gets translated as cheese cake. Most cheese cakes in the US are made with cream cheese as you all know, in Switzerland however we use a product called “Quark” which is a type of fresh cheese, much lighter than cream cheese (kind of like a firm yoghurt) and very tasty. It comes in plain form (which is needed for this dessert) or in many fruit styles. It is available in the US in some specialty stores, at about 10 times the Swiss price. To substitute I use sour cream light. I had to get used to the different taste, but it works very well. Only the base gets baked, the rest is a mixture of egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, stiff egg whites, sour cream, whipped cream and gelatin. I always import my yearly supply of gelatin leaves from Europe whenever I go there, thus I have never had to get used to gelatin in powder form, the only one readily available here, as far as I know.

It’s an elegant, fresh dessert that has a somewhat airy texture and the appearance of being very light.

I also made this typical, very common and simple French summer dessert: a clafoutis with apricots and blueberries. It is a very easy and tasty way to use up fresh fruit. The most common version is with cherries.


And finally for brunch at our neighbors this past Sunday I baked these cinnamon rolls (I myself don't like cinnamon in sweets much, I prefer it in savory dishes). They came out very light and fluffy. I used a recipe from the King Arthur site and substituted the potato flakes (which I don't have) with a freshly cooked potato (before cooking it was around 120g) that I mashed finely with a little water. This ingredient, I read, makes cinnamon rolls very soft, and it's true, as several people commented on how fluffy and light they were. 



smasty's picture

I'm in the middle of my very first SD bake.  I'm using Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough recipe, which uses a levain.  I grew my levain for 7 days (he says in the book that it should be ready to use on day 6).  The thing is, I didn't really see much rise in the bulk ferment stage.  There was a change in the dough structure, but very little growth (2.5 hours with 1 fold).  My shaped loaves have been sitting for 2.5 hours and though smooth and elastic looking...still not much growth.  The oven is heating right now...if I don't see miraculous oven spring, these are going to  be really small heavy loaves.  Maybe my levain didn't grow for long enough....too soon to start guessing until they come out of the oven.  Needless to say, I'm on pins and needles until these babies go in the oven.  More to come....


Update: geez, it looks like I will have 3 pounds of flatbread.  What happened?  Levain not mature enough?  It had bubbles and a delightful smell, sort of like yogurt.  I have it (my levain) in the fridge now, I can continue to feed it 2x a day (at room temp) for another that a good strategy?  I'm a bit bummed. 

Nomadcruiser53's picture

Today I tried Jason's Quick Coccodrillo Ciabatta. It was quick and easy as stated. I did do the SD variation to use up some of my starter and found I did have to add another 1/2 cup of flour for it to come together even after 1/2 hour mixing.

With the leftover I did up a pizza dough for supper tonight.

The pizza was great with a garden fresh salad and red wine. Dave

rayel's picture

I found this pan in my basement in its original box and thought I would try it out. I extended it about 17 inches for this loaf, but I believe it was too long for the amt. of dough. It is quite wide as well. It worked nicely but again I think I could have made the pan smaller.  Ray

cake diva's picture
cake diva

cherry peppers grilled

... a bowl of cherry peppers, grilled.

Every summer, my husband buys pepper plants, even though I have never had any success growing them.  Eggplants, zucchini, cucumbers, Chinese long beans- no problem, but peppers- just can't grow them.  So, this year B. says maybe you'll have better luck with cherry peppers, and proceeds to buy 3 plants.

Coming back from a month-long vacation in Asia, I find the cherry peppers ripe for picking.  Excited, I grilled, peeled and deseeded them- visions of cheese-stuffed, batter-dipped, fried torpedoes dancing in my head.  Better imagined than done!  After an hour of prepping, I quickly realized it would be a daunting task to batter and fry each one of what was left of the starting vegetable, let alone stuffed them with cheese.  Thus was Plan B born.  I would use the peppers judiciously in a sourdough bread.

For my sourdough bread, I turned to a recipe from Janedo ( which was her interpretation of Leader's Pane di Genzano, and made my own loose version. (Sorry, Janedo, I can't find the exact page to insert here for reference.)

Two days prior to bake, build your sourdough starter.  You would need 368g of SD. I chose to make 480g of a target 60% hydration preferment because that is what I had on hand and I already have the calculation from a previous bake.

Day 1:

  • 17.78g 60% hydration starter

  • 22.22g AP flour

  • 13.33g water

   12 hrs. later:

  • all of the above

  • 66.67g AP flour

  • 40.0  g water

Day 2:

  • all of the above

  • 200g AP flour

  • 120g water

   When the starter is active, about 4 hours...

  • 370g of the active starter (refrigerate the rest for future bakes)

  • 400g water, room temp

  • 500g flour (I used 300g bread flour, 120g First Clear flour, 75g AP flour, 6g vital wheat gluten. No particular reason for the amounts;  I had run out of bread flour)

  • 4 g instant yeast

  • 8 g of Kosher salt (reduced from original 15g amount in anticipation of dry cheese addition)


  1. Combine the above in the bowl of a mixer and mix with a pastry blade until a wet dough forms.  Now comes the cautionary part.  You may choose not try this at home with your regular benchtop mixers as the procedure calls for cranking the speed to settings above manufacturer recommendations.

  2. Turn on the mixer to medium-high speed and let knead for 10 minutes. Here I switched to the dough hook and placed my Hobart N50 to the 2nd setting (the model only has 3).  Be careful as Janedo cautions as the mixer can start to move and fall off the counter.

  3. Now increase the speed to high for 8-10 minutes. The dough is expected to form stringy strands and then thinner ones, and will eventually pull away from the sides of the bowl to form a ball, but slide down when the mixer is stopped.  Here was when I got really nervous as the mixer jiggled and made loud noises.  I was perhaps lucky this time that nothing got blown up.

  4. Do a windowpane test to make sure gluten has formed.

  5. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover, and let ferment for 1.5 hrs.

  6. Then punch dough down, and do a couple of folds (I used my scraper since the dough is sufficiently wet);  cover and again let rise for 1-1.5 hrs.

  7. When doubled, take dough, degas and shape tightly.  (I made 2 boules).

  8. On one of the boule, I added cherry peppers and grated Parmegiano Reggiano).

folding peppers

     9.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1.5-2 hrs. (I did mine on parchment).  In the meantime, with an hour to go, preheat oven to 500F.

     10.  Score bread and slide onto hot stone, while reducing oven temp to 450F.  (I also took the hot water on cast iron pan + misting-the-oven strategies).  

     11.  After 30 minutes, turn the oven down to 410F and bake for another 20 or so minutes until very dark.  (I skipped this step because I prefer my bread lighter in color.  I also typically mist my bread right after the bake to get a softer crust if I'm not going to consume the bread immediately).

cherry pepper boules

I know, my scoring remains a weakness. These I scored using sanitized wallpaper knife.


Crumb was satisfactory with enough holes.  The flavor of the bread is just as I like it- with moderate tang.  Now for the Cherry Pepper Parmesan bread- wheww!  It was hot!  I didn't know cherry peppers were that hot.  (Now mind you, I only go as high as 3 on a scale of 0-10 in Thai restaurants).  The dried cheese was, needless to say, fantastic and probably would have been more so had it been left on its own.

Cherry pepper cheese bread is being sent away to K. who can appreciate the heat, but daugher #1 and I, we're keeping the unflavored one. She's having her slice, as I write this, right off the panini grill, to be topped with fresh goat cheese.  Me- I'm having mine grilled and topped with good old-fashioned peanut butter.  I love the simpler things in life.

hot boule


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