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Sourdough Pumpernickel Bread

So just a heads up I'm planning on doing a number of posts of the next couple of days. I'm trying to do some catch up from all of the baking I've done but haven't blogged about. It also means that the pictures will be hit or miss. I'll try to get as many of them on as I can but it might be spotty.

Pumpernickel is one of the more interesting breads that I've made so far and incredibly tasty. I had never eaten it before I made it. Got to say, I'm now a fan. There are two major tricks to this recipe. The first is the ingredients. Some of them are a struggle to find which is special. The second is it is has a very very slow rise. I mean slower than most sourdoughs I've made. This is something you'll want to keep in mind when you make this. I'm using a recipe from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.


Stiff Starter - 1 cup + 2 Tbls

bread flour - 3/4 cup + 2 Tbls

pumpernickel flour - 1 cup

malt powder - 1 Tbls

vital wheat gluten - 2 Tbls

caramel powder - 2 Tbls

cocoa - 2 Tbls

sugar - 1 Tbls

Instant espresso powder - 1 tsp

caraway seeds - 1/2 Tbls

molasses - 1 Tbls

Water (at room temp) - 3/4 cup

Salt - 1 3/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp

Its quiet the list of ingredients so lets go through some of the tougher ones.

Pumpernickel flour is a type of rye flour that's milled from the whole rye grain. Its the darkest of the rye flours, so if you can't find pumpernickel, a good substitute is the darkest rye flour you can find.

Next on our list is malt powder. Now this specifically talking about nondiastitic barley malt. I know I had to look it up too. Barley malt normally has an enzyme that helps feed the yeast. But nondiastitic no longer has the enzyme so it simple adds flavor. There are some substitutes you can use if you can't find it. These are barley malt syrup, honey or sugar.

Next ingredient is vital wheat gluten. This is found in wheat flour but when you add lots of ingredients the gluten struggles to hold the structure of the bread. So there isn't a substitute and with all of this in it the gluten really does help. There's a number of places you can get it. Amazon, King Arthur Baking or even the grocery store sometimes.

The last difficult ingredient is the caramel powder. I couldn't find this any where so I had to make it my self. To make it I put 1 1/3 cup sugar in a non stick pan and placed it on medium heat. Heat it slowly and don't stir. Just give the pan a shake to move the sugar around. The sugar will melt slowly. When its completely melted, pour the liquid sugar into a pan covered in aluminum foil. Once its cool, break it up and put it in a blender to powder. Ta Da! caramel powder.


  1. In a mix combine bread flour, pumpernickel flour, malt (or a substitute), vital wheat gluten, caramel powder, cocoa, sugar, instant espresso powder, and caraway seeds. Whisk them together. Add the molasses. Use the dough hook, and add the water slowly. You want it to have enough water to create a dough but not slushy. I tend to be a little over generous with the water but I don't let it worry me because I can add additional flour later if need be. Keep kneading for several minutes to start building the gluten. Cover the bowl and let it sit for 20 minutes.

  2. Add the starter to your already started dough. Start with a low speed and mix in the starter. After a minute take the speed up to medium and keep kneading. Add the salt and keep kneading. The dough should be barely sticky and very elastic. If its too sticky, add a little flour, if its not sticky at all, add a bit of water. To test the elasticity do the window test (I talked about this in the Rye loaf recipe). Once your dough is both barely sticky and elastic, place it in an oiled bowl and cover.

  3. After the dough as sat for an hour, pull it out and place it on a floured surface. Flatten it out slightly and do a letter fold. Turn it 90 degrees and do another letter fold. Place back in the bowl and let it sit for another hour.

  4. Repeat set 3. Place the dough back in the bowl and let sit until doubled. Depending on how warm your kitchen is this could take between 6 and 8 hours. Don't let it get too warm or it will rise too fast and you risk killing your yeast prematurely.

  5. Once its doubled in size, pull it out and set it on our floured surface. Form into a ball and set in your floured bantam, cover and place in the fridge over night. You can let it sit for another 4 to 5 hours and then bake if you want it same day, but I enjoy the nice sour flavor that comes from a cold prove.

  6. Preheat the oven to 400F and place your dutch oven in the oven to heat up as well. Its best to let the oven preheat for about an hour. Grab the dough from the fridge and gently set it out on a piece of baking parchment. Score the top and place in the loaf and paper into the dutch oven. Bake for 5 minutes and then turn the oven temperature down to 375F. Bake for an additional 45 to 50 minutes. To check to see if its baked through just take the internal temperature which should be 190F. I like to take the lid off the dutch over for the last 5 or so minutes to get a nice brown (not super noticeable on this loaf) and crispiness to the crust.

  7. Once done place on a rack to cool and enjoy.

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