festive holiday recipe #15: fancy pumpernickel bread

fancy pumpernickel

So, I probably should have posted this earlier, because it would have made all those leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches you ate a million times better. But it can still make your other sandwiches better. It can also make your breakfast eggs better. It makes for an excellent toast situation. It’s good for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. I had some the other night as a side to my cauliflower soup.

Funny story…when I baked this bread, my loaf ended up with a butt. See? (Yeah, real mature, I know.)

bread butt-

This pumpernickel is extra fancy because it has a few extra ingredients thrown in there. The flavors, to me, are inherently fall/winter-y. They almost embody a savory version of pumpkin pie spice, if that makes any sense. It’s a pretty dense bread, but the flavor is out-of-this-world awesome (and this coming from a girl who, up until very recently, was anti-pumpernickel and anti-rye. I know, what was wrong with me!?) Don’t worry, though, I’ve seen the light, and that light is this bread.

This bread would be great to have around for a variety of reasons, but don’t hesitate to gift it, either! Can you name anyone who wouldn’t appreciate the gift of freshly baked bread? I can’t…

fancy pumpernickel bread

Fancy Pumpernickel Bread
recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 package (3/4 TB) active dry yeast or instant yeast
pinch of sugar
1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
1 cups water
1/8 cup molasses
1/8 cup white or cider vinegar
2 TB unsalted butter
1 1/2 TB dutched cocoa powder
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups medium rye flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose or bread flour
1/2 cup bran
1 TB caraway seeds
1/4 tsp anise seeds
1/2 TB salt
3/4 TB instant espresso powder
1/2 TB dried, minced onion (Deb uses minced fresh shallot in her recipe, which I’m sure is also awesome)
1/8 cup cornmeal (optional)
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)


  1. In a small bowl, combine yeast and sugar with warm water. Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Heat two cups water, molasses, vinegar, butter and chocolate until the butter and chocolate are melted. Set aside.
  3. Combine whole-wheat, rye and white flours in a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. In bowl of a heavy mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 1 cup mixed flours, bran, 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, anise seeds, salt, espresso and dried onion.
  5. At low speed, add yeast and molasses/chocolate mixtures. Mix until smooth and beat at medium speed for three minutes. (If you don’t like whole seeds in your bread, grinding them in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle allows their flavor to come through without the texture.) **This, or any bread, can also be made by hand, simply mixing the ingredients in a large bowl with a wooden spoon and kneading the dough on a counter until springy and smooth.
  6. At low speed, add half cup of remaining mixed flours at a time, until dough clears sides of bowl and begins to work its way up paddle. It will be very sticky but firm.
  7. Scrape dough off paddle, flour counter well, and knead to make a springy yet dense dough. You might not use all of the flour mixture.
  8. Form into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Turn once to grease top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm area until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Combine cornmeal and remaining 1/2 tsp caraway seeds, if using, and set aside.
  9. Gently deflate dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
  10. Divide into two portions and form into a round or loaf. Loaves should be placed in a loaf pan sprayed with nonstick spray, while rounds should be placed seam down on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal mixture, if using.
  11. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled and puffy, about 45 minutes to one hour. Slash an X into the top of a round before baking it; or a small line down the middle of the loaf.
  12. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until loaves are well-browned, or register an internal temperature of 200 to 210°F on an instant-read thermometer. Baking time in your oven may vary — check in on the bread when it is 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through the baking time to make sure it has not super-speedily baked.
  13. Remove from baking sheet to cool completely on a rack.

pumpernickel loaf


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