Dark Rye


I’ve long had a dream. A dream of baking the perfect pumpernickel. That dark color and slightly bitter flavor has always caught my attention. It’s my favorite kind of bagel. I must be able to make it!

But pumpernickel flour is oddly hard to find in stores, so I had to resort to online ordering and waiting. Still wanting to keep it dark, I decided to bake a dark rye. I used a pumpernickel recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Baking Bible.

New skills

Coloring bread

There are so many ingredients you add to get that notorious dark brown color of a pumpernickel. I have never worked with three of them: molasses, espresso powder, and caramel powder.

My girlfriend stepped in and took on making the caramel, and managed it on her first try. We pulverized it in the food processor and were on our merry way. We made extra for future loafs as well.

What did I learn?

The loaf had a hole in it…

This loaf was folded between proves. More specifically, it was given a “business letter turn.” I stretched the dough into a rectangle and folded it into thirds. I do this fairly often with my loaves, and Rose says it leads to a much puffier dough.

But this time, I was shocked to find a large hole in the upper middle area of the loaf! I have never had that result from this kind of folding. It’s almost like the dough didn’t combine completely in the fold.

The crust was not crispy

One of my favorite things about a good loaf is the nice, crispy crust. And this loaf did not have that. I used my brand new baking stone and La Cloche on this bake. Normally, using these two results in a pretty good crust. But this loaf had a soft outer crust, despite being browned.

Can you replace pumpernickel flour for rye flour?

The two previous lessons make me start to wonder if I doomed this bake when I used rye flour in a pumpernickel recipe. Looking back, that seems obvious. But at the time I was too excited to make a pumpernickel to settle for a rye recipe.

I’ve ordered some proper pumpernickel flour and will be repeating this recipe! I still dream of the perfect pumpernickel coming from my oven.

The color could be deeper

I would have liked to see a darker color of the bread overall. I’ve seen some nearly black pumpernickels that just look amazing. My loaf had a nice medium brown color, but it could have been so much deeper of a brown. I’ll need to experiment with the coloring ingredients!

How’d it eat?

Despite the soft crust and giant hole, this bread was delicious. There’s a nice flavor to pumpernickel that makes it amazing with butter, as part of a sandwich, or dipped in spinach and artichoke dip.

This loaf was devoured at a movie night along with my girlfriend’s spinach and artichoke dip. It’s an amazing bread with dip or a topping of some kind. Great with eggs and bacon, aka the true test of bread.