Next Up: Pumpernickel Bread

I made a commitment to do Chinese moon cakes next, but my mold hasn’t arrived. So while I wait I’m going to make a little black bread for reader Frankly. Going to try to get something deep and dark without using coffee or cocoa powder. I have an old school Jewish recipe that I’ve been dying to try!

16 thoughts on “Next Up: Pumpernickel Bread”

  1. Hi Joe,

    You’re probably going to get to this, but are you planning to do a North American-style pumpernickel, i.e. quite fluffy – similar texture to a standard country loaf, but dark? Or are you planning the traditional Pumpernickel as it’s made in Europe, i.e. an extremely dense, somewhat moist, almost unleavened “cake” of coarsely ground rye, sliced very thinly? (I’m pretty sure this is the Dutch “Roggebrood” that another commenter mentioned a week or two ago.) Do you know what I mean by the latter? We can get it in big cities in Canada – always imported, I think – but it’s a bit of a niche product here.

    At any rate, looking forward to it!

    1. I’ve always wondered what to call that kind of bread too. It needs a proper name because when you try to describe it, it doesn’t sound very good but, in fact, it’s very tasty and great for soft cheeses and whatever you can pile on top of that.

  2. Oh, I just saw that there was some discussion of pumpernickel earlier – no doubt that’s what prompted this project! One thing that I can say is that pumpernickel or a very black bread is not Russian. The darkest bread I’ve ever had in Russia was simply a dark rye. I also looked online and the only Russian recipes for a truly black bread that I saw are called… Pumpernickel 🙂 But of course that’s not to say that Russian immigrants to North America didn’t start making it (for whatever reason), just like German immigrants did.

    It’s fascinating how supposedly “Old World” traditions can often be created (or substantially modified) in the “New World.” It’s very much the case for Italian cuisine in North America too.

    1. Hey Jen!

      That’s funny. It’s been 25 years or so since I was in Russia as a student, but I ate black bread at every meal…and I mean the stuff was black. Black bread, tomatoes, cucumbers and borscht were standards at lunch and dinner. If there was meat it was a feast! I also remember that sniffing a crust of stale black bread was supposed to heighten the effects of a big draught of warm vodka. I never understood why. Maybe someone can explain it to me.

      Tastes may well have changed since then. I’m not ruling it out at all!

      – Joe

      1. Really? Mea culpa – clearly I was hanging around the wrong people (and markets) 🙂

        1. That was my experience anyway. Things change in 25 years though, Jen. It simply may not be like that anymore. And if not good for them! I sure got tired of the stuff! 😉

          – Joe

  3. I could have sworn you already did moon cakes, and yesterday I was searching your blog for them. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t show up! Well, I’m looking forward to both the pumpernickel and the moon cakes.

  4. And I hope you can explain why there is light rye flour, dark rye flour and pumpernickle flour. (I’m guessing it has to do with the amount of bran in the flour, and the particle size?)

    1. That’s it exactly, Ted! Light, medium and dark rye all have to do with how much bran, germ and larger, coarser outer layers of endosperm remain in the finished product. Dark rye (pumpernickel) flour is the equivalent of whole wheat flour, but for rye.

      Nicely done!

      – Joe

  5. Yey, moon cakes! Waiting eagerly your recipe ^^ Are you going for the traditional recipe with red bean paste and the dough with lye water (scary!) ?

    1. That’s what I hope to do, Yukiko! I’ll see if I can locate the ingredients. If not I may have to adapt!

      Wish me luck,

      – Joe

  6. Thanks for this Joe. I have been struggling again & not keeping up with your most excellent site. With winter coming here on the frozen tundra I think bread baking may be back of the agenda. I have been reading backwards & am going to try your starter method.

    1. Reader Bronwyn came up with a blacker bread using a slightly different technique…I’m going to try that this week as well!


      – Joe

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