Rye Pumpernickel Bread

Rye Pumpernickel Bread

 

I love thick, hearty breads.

Long gone are the days when I daydreamed about the pillowy white cloud that is Sunbeam white bread.  Or Wonder bread.  Any of those cheap, soft, unhealthy breads.

Rye pumpernickel dough, after rising.
Rye pumpernickel dough, after rising.

As a child, I used to hate wheat bread. I was very confused and a bit reluctant to admit I enjoyed this bread that my parents bought very rarely.  It was wheat bread…but I liked it.  How could this be?  I assumed the nuts and seeds in the bread must be outweighing the general dullness of wheat bread.

Then you shape it into a loaf, and place in the pan, to rise again.
Then you shape it into a loaf, and place in the pan, to rise again.
A short time later, you have this!  It is ready to go in the oven and make your whole house smell divinely.
A short time later, you have this! It is ready to go in the oven and make your whole house smell divinely.

While the nuts and seeds definitely played a part, the real answer is simple.  My parents frequently bought cheaper wheat bread–usually this kind or something similar–that was trying too hard to be like Sunbeam white bread.  The problem was that it was never as soft and moist as white bread, and in its pursuit of Sunbeam-esqueness, it lost the wonderful hearty, nutty flavour of whole grains.

Now it is done baking!  It does not look very different, but it now sounds hollow when you tap the crust.
Now it is done baking! It does not look very different, but it now sounds hollow when you tap the crust.

Part of a pumpernickel loaf

This is where a trip to the local farmer’s market comes into the story.  My boyfriend and I were browsing while enjoying the warm sunny day, when we came to a stall that was selling a billion different forms of grainy carbs.  They had white, potato, Italian, poppy seed, whole wheat, honey wheat, sourdough, ciabatta, focaccia, 12 grain, oat, Italian cheese, and a million more breads.  My boyfriend wanted to buy one…until he saw the price.  $7 for a small loaf of bread?  No amount of poppy seeds was going to induce two college students to buy that.  I comforted him by promising to bake him some delicious homemade bread that would cost much less.  The first task was to decide what kind of bread to make without resorting to plain French or Italian bread that I have made several times.  Challah is also lovely, but mine is never up to making sandwiches because it is too [amazingly, deliciously] soft.

That reminds me, I really need to make challah again, so I can take some proper pictures of it.  Mine are pathetic and do the bread no justice.

Sandwich material!
Sandwich material!

Pumpernickel’s dark colour (and fun-to-say name) has intrigued me for years now.  When I happened upon a recipe for whole wheat pumpernickel rye bread, I pounced on it.  I am very glad that I did.  The only minor changes I made were that I used white whole wheat flour in place of the whole wheat flour (which likely led to the lighter colour of my loaf), I used instant decaf coffee, and I kneaded by hand the whole time.

pumpernickel rye cooling

Best lunch ever.
Best lunch ever.

I have to say that the initial kneading of the bread will likely leave you with sore biceps/triceps/whatever-other-muscles-are-in-your-arms the next day.  It is quite a workout.  I have never kneaded a bread for so long.  I was a bit apprehensive, because my dough was not quite at the level of elasticity that I like to achieve, but it turned out lovely.  This bread smells very sweet while it is rising, so the second and third [shorter] rounds of kneading are quite enjoyable.

That end piece was my favourite.  The crust is perfection.
That end piece was my favourite. The crust is perfection.

The crust on this bread is amazing.  It is crusty without being hard to cut through or chew.  The center is so soft and moist, and the flavour is hearty and lightly sweet.  My boyfriend and I used it while it was still warm to make ham, muenster cheese, cucumber, and tomato sandwiches.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable lunch.

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5 thoughts on “Rye Pumpernickel Bread

  1. kudos on a successful baking project 🙂 That bread looks hearty and healthy and has made me hungry! Always less exenspive to do it yourself.

    1. It was also a lot more fun! Plus it made my kitchen and living room smell wonderfully for a few hours. Baking bread and baking chocolate chip cookies are much better than any air freshener on the market.

  2. Oh, those breads of my childhood. We loved Silvercup the best…soft…chewy…actually rubbery!!! I do admit that my tastes have changed but…the memories linger on!!! Now, I think, I am more into the flavor rather than texture. And crust, yes crust, must be there for the infamous soup and crusty bread. And too bad there are only two end pieces. Maybe that can be our next invention???

    1. Oh my, “rubbery”?! Haha, that sounds a little off-putting. But yes, Sunbeam still does have a special place in my heart. I also love the crusty ends. I usually eat the one end before anyone else even sees the bread. My story is that I am taste-testing the bread to make sure it’s alright, but truthfully, I just don’t want anyone else eating my end piece!

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