Making Black Bread (Pumpernickel)

Here’s how I like to eat a real pumpernickel: with lox, cream cheese and capers. Why? Because this moist, ultra-dense bread calls out for accompaniment. Smoked fish and cheese. A nice slice of pork fat with onions and chili powder on top. Something — and something rich. Oh, and beer.

Not that this bread doesn’t taste great on its own of course. This is an all-rye bread. No white wheat flour, no caraway seeds, nothing to mask it’s pure, peasant the-wheat-crop-failed-this-year-and-we-have-nothing-else-to-eat rye-ness. You’ll get it when you taste it. It ain’t no sandwich bread but it’s great for canapés, toast, or just eating with butter.


Black Bread (Pumpernickel) Recipe

This recipe, for a very dark Polish and/or Lithuanian-style rye, diverges from most in that it uses neither espresso powder nor cocoa for color. That’s the upside. The downside is that you have to special order both dark rye flour and rye meal to execute it. Happily both are available on Amazon via Bob’s Red Mill.

Notice that this recipe, while very “Old World” in that it uses starter and is built in several stages, is still “spiked” with commercial yeast at the end to prevent it from becoming a complete brick. God love the modern world and neo-traditionalist bakers! This recipe is adapted from Inside the Jewish Bakery by Stanley Ginsberg and Norman Berg. It makes one large free-form loaf or two smaller 11″ x 4″ sandwich loaves. I may well adapt this to fit a pullman pan at some point in the coming week.