Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pumpernickel Rye Bread with Raisins

Did you know that pumpernickel bread gets its dark color from cocoa powder? I didn’t – I presumed it had to do with the flour or the caraway seeds. Since regular rye isn’t dark, it should hardly have shocked me that cocoa was behind the pumpernickel hue we know and cherish.

Since we’ve cleared up that mystery, let’s talk pumpernickel. Despite the inclusion of cocoa powder, it tastes nothing like chocolate. Maybe you love it; maybe you hate it. I love it, but I like my breads thick, grainy, and dense. If you like your breads soft, airy, and light, then this is probably not the loaf for you, and you’ve probably never cared for pumpernickel to begin with.

If you like pumpernickel, then you’ll be sure to like this homemade version even more. Unlike store-bought loaves, this one got even more flavorful the longer it sat on my counter and maintained a soft, moist crumb for longer than most bread. It could be the summer humidity, but I’m going to attribute it to inherent pumpernickel goodness.

I’d never made pumpernickel before and couldn’t find a recipe in any of my cookbooks, so I used this one from allrecipes as a starting point. Of course I mucked about with it. I always do. Many people who had made the recipe suggested more sweetener, so I used a whole quarter cup of molasses. I worried that this might render a too-sweet or too-molasses-y loaf, but the other flavors are so robust that I needn’t have feared. I also used malted milk powder rather than plain and used all white-wheat flour instead of a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat for the non-rye flours. And because I like them, I added raisins, though they’re purely an optional touch.

I was very pleased with how this came out and will almost certainly be making it again. It would be shameful to let my rye flour go to waste.

Pumpernickel Rye Bread
Adapted from allrecipes

2 cups white wheat flour (or substitute all-purpose or bread flour)
1 ¼ cups rye flour
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons malted milk powder
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1-2 tablespoons caraway seed – I used two, but I really like caraway; one might be plenty for you.
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
¼ cup molasses

1 cup raisins (optional)

In bowl of a stand mixer, stir together dry ingredients. Stir together water, oil, and molasses, and blend with dry ingredients. Using a dough hook, knead for several minutes (or, you know, knead by hand). Add raisins toward the end of the kneading time.

Shape into a ball, coat lightly with oil, and let rise in warm place for an hour to an hour and a half, until doubled in size. Punch down, shape into a loaf or a round, and let rise again.

Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes – it only took 30 in my oven, but I think 45 would be more typical. Let cool before slicing. Makes one medium loaf or round.

I plan to submit this to yeastspotting. Printable recipe here.


  1. I love dark breads but honestly never make them... I even have rye flour so no excuse at all! Yours looks dark and rich and perfect!!!

  2. I love rye bread and yours looks terrific!

  3. I just bought a lot of rye flour, and need some recipes. This is perfect!