The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

The loaf that brought me here

apprentice's picture

The loaf that brought me here

Seems appropriate to make my first blog post about pumpernickel. Mentioned in my intro post yesterday that it was Horst Bandel's Black Pumpernickel in Jeffrey Hamelman's book Bread that brought me to The Fresh Loaf. Growing up in multi-cultural Winnipeg, Manitoba, I was exposed to so many wonderful ryes. So while I was at baking school, I made whatever breads (and other things) we were assigned and then worked overtime on the ryes.

To say there's a learning curve with true pumpernickel is an understatment! Made JH's recipe countless times. Thought I'd share pictures of the first decent loaf I produced, along with the grateful and happy email I sent to  my instructor in the wee hours that day before graduation. I might flub picture posting this first try. Bear with me.

The final dough, ready for the pan:






After the long night's bake:








The crumb:






Email to my instructor (excerpt):

"Best graduation present ever! I seem to have cracked the pumpernickel at last. Not completely there yet, as you can see from the concave bit, centre top. But I think I know how to solve that, too. Several insights made the difference... But most importantly, I saw a reference in side note on page 216 that his Pullman pans are 13" long rather than our 16". Meant I was vastly overproofing by trying to get the bread close to the top of the pan. Even overproofed this one because it was supposed to get 50 to 60 minutes and could not believe that it seemed to be ready at 20! I turned the oven on to preheat, and the loaf continued to rise before my very eyes like time-lapse photography. That's what produced the concave bit, I would guess. Could think of no one I'd rather share this joy with! And yes, that is one of the school's Pullman pans. It's right by my front door to bring back today."


Janedo's picture

I've never made pumpernickel but I did go to university in Winnipeg (and grade 12 High School at St. Mary's - my mom made me go because she was education by the Holy Names nuns in Spokane Washington). We moved there because my dad got a job as office manager at Merryl Lynch and after a year went nuts and we went back to Vancouver. Then I went back for university. Small world.

Oh, and nice bread... :-) I will have to do it one day for my rye quest I'm on. But you have scared me about it!


apprentice's picture

It's not really that hard, just so different from the grains and methods we're more used to. Even my so-called duds tasted divine! I'd slice 'em and toast 'em. Very thin. Also recycled them (the dud loaves) as canapes for a whole grain competition with some auspicious trimming.

Uh oh, sounds like another chance to practice my picture-posting!







I went to Sacred Heart. Yep, small world.


edh's picture

I tried Horst Bandel's pumpernickel as my first rye (ok, that wasn't the right place to start, I realize!) and it was a riotous disaster. Among other mistakes, and along with no familiarity with the attributes of rye, I used the full amount of water indicated, plus what the old bread soaked up. I don't think it could even be called a slack dough, more like thick batter.

Also didn't have a pullman pan, so baked one loaf in a covered pot, and one in a loaf pan with a cookie sheet on top (by the time I'd added enough flour to be able to pick up the dough, there was alot of it). The results were beyond dense, but incredibly tasty.

Someday I'll work up the nerve to try again, but in the meantime I'll just admire yours from afar!

Nice work!!


apprentice's picture

don't be too much in awe. This bread will yield up its secrets, if you're stubborn enough to persist. And it's so worth it! As you said, incredibly tasty. The caramel-doctored stuff that passes for pumpernickel in most of North America is a crime against nature and all things holy.

Let's both make it again one day! Ah, so many breads, so little time.

Thanks again!


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Reading about heavy ryes ....and I can actually smell it ...yes maam, I turned around to see where the aroma was coming from ...could almost taste it, the little plump jelled grains slightly translucent and darkened from the bake.  The way you can bite em in half and taste the carmel crumbling and how they stick just a little to your teeth.  ...I can dream.  Don't wake me up...

Mini O