There are few virtues a man can possess more erotic than culinary skill.
Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses
by Isabel Allende

Starting in November of 2009 Michelle at the Big Black Dog formed a group to bake its way through Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg. I loved Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, so I signed up with the group. Michelle first had us do a couple of warm-up assignments, which were my first attempt at blogging. The first "Official" post was on January 15, 2010, and it was followed by 41 more, on the 1st and 15th of each month. When I signed on I said I would bake the whole book, and like Horton (the elephant) I meant what I said and I said what I meant. I finished baking the book on October 1, 2011. Having completed that challenge, now I am just going to do some stuff, and post about it. As part of that stuff Michelle is posing a new, and different, challenge for us each month.

I am still baking bread, mostly the Five Minutes a Day kind, and if you would like to try the Five Minutes a Day bread method there are some links, with recipes, in the right hand column to get you started. Please give it a try.

But first, a word from my sponsor . . .
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This day be bread and peace my lot.
Alexander Pope

How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?

Julia Child

Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven.
Yiddish proverb
(And some are only half baked.)

There is no love sincerer than the love of food.
George Bernard Shaw, via Sharon

Of all smells, bread; of all tastes, salt.
George Herbert

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bavarian-Style Whole Grain Pumpernickel Bread (28 of 42)

 Before getting to the assignment, I thought I would share a tip I  saw in the most recent Cooks Illustrated.  It is not particularly pertinent to this assignment, but I was afraid I would forget to mention it if I waited.   It is a method of getting seed, grains and such onto your loaves, and works best for baguettes and other longer or oval loaves, though you might try it with a boule.

You sprinkle your topping onto a rimmed baking sheet (I just put some on the counter), and after you loaf is formed but before rising you roll the loaf in the seeds.  DUH! 

 Cooks suggests rolling the loaf on a dampened towel first, to moisten it, but I found that not to be necessary with our HB in 5 dough, though it may depend on the moisture in your dough that day.  To save a towel, you might just use wet hands to form the loaf.  Anyway, when I tried it it worked really well,  so I thought I would share. I rolled one loaf all around, and so covered the whole thing, and then tried only rolling half the loaf.  (The top one is the HB in 5 seeded oat bread and the bottom one is the AB in 5 semolina bread with sesame seeds.)  So that is my mitzvah du jour. 

This fortnight is (almost) all about pumpernickel.   According to "There is also a popular rye bread called pumpernickel, which was a West Phalian specialty (Osnabruck and surrounding area). It consists of cracked and whole rye berries which are soaked overnight in hot water, then packed into a closed mold and steamed for 16 - 24 hours. Modern production has reduced this time to 12 hours by adding yeast or sourdough to the mixture to help the heat penetrate through the dense dough through rising. Beet syrup is often also added, but the taste and aroma comes from caramelization and the Maillard reaction during baking. It can be stored for several month to several years and was used in the Middle Ages as emergency rations."

Our pumpernickel was baked, not steamed; for 30-35 minutes, not 12-24 hours; and we ate it all in a day, rather than keeping it for several months; so I cannot say if it would have stored for years or not, but I doubt it.  

Our bread gets its dark color not so much from the  Maillard reaction (a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, usually requiring heat) as from caramel coloring and molasses, both of which contribute to the flavor profile.  The AB in 5 pumpernickel also uses espresso powder and cocoa powder.  I have used both of those in this dough when I made Date Nut Pumpernickel, but with the added whole grain and dark rye I am not sure how noticeable they really are.

We were supposed to use a brotform to shape this loaf as it rises, but the wetter HB in 5 dough can stick, which only leads tears, so I baked mine in my perforated bread pan.  It baked up nicely

and had a good crumb and flavor. 

The other loaf we were to bake was a rye/pumpernickel braid.  I did a two strand braid, because that is one I can do.  

It baked up nicely, although the color difference is not particularly noticeable from the outside, (except on the bottom).  
After making these breads I still had a little pumpernickel dough left over, and I baked (cooked) it as I would for Naan.  AB in 5 suggests using a cast iron skillet to make naan, which I have done, but it holds heat so well that it can overcook quickly, so this time I just used a 10 inch non-stick skillet, heated some oil in it, rolled out the dough and threw it in the pan.  I covered the pan, and after a few minutes, flipped the dough, covered the pan and cooked for a few more minutes.  It is the quickest bread you can make, and it turned out beautifully, soft and chewy and delicious.  
Instead of saving some rye dough from the previous exercise for the braid, as instructed by our Fearless Leader (I never have followed directions well) I made two half batches, one for last time and one for this time.  As a result, I had extra rye, and was suffering some baker's remorse for not having "manned up" and used my brotform for the pumpernickel.  So I used it to make a loaf of rye.  I used plenty of flour, and the dough was not too wet, so it worked pretty well.  No tears.
I also used some of the extra rye to make the ham, cheese and sauteed cabbage variation of the Stuffed Sandwich loaf.  Similar to Danielle's Stuffed Reuben, it was really good, especially with the rye bread.  

Well that is it for now.  Check back next time for Apple Barley Bread and Whole Grain Butterfat-and-Yolk-free Brioche. 


  1. All of your breads look great! Your stuffed sandwich loaf is especially appealing to me right now..(I'm hungry!) I always look forward to your posts.

  2. That's alot of bread you been bakin' up there. It all looks so wonderful. I love naan. We used to have an Indian neighbor back in Ohio and she was always making & giving us some! I love your braid, the two different colors when you slice open the bread. The stuffed sandwich loaf looks like it turned out well. The swirl of filling is perfectly spaced in neat spirals!!

  3. I commend you for baking all the HB in 5 breads. Their unique ingredients, flavors and textures make each one an interesting culinary expeience. Pumpernickle is a hearty bread, great to eat this time of year. The stuffed sandwich was delicious!

  4. Thanks for the seed rolling tip. I agree, pretty obvious! I'm always watching my seeds bouncing off my loaves! Your braided loaf is so beautifully formed, and the color of your pumpernickel looks great.

  5. The 2-strand braid is my favorite braid to make. I honestly think it makes a much more visually appealing braid.

    WOW...your Dark Pumpernickle looks luscious!

    I have problems with the AB5/HB5 breads sticking to the brotform too. I've tried several different methods but so far none have worked very well.

  6. Wow, really beautiful loaves. Love your tips and trivia!

  7. Your bread looks so good, and we get some science to boot. :) Great job.

  8. HAHAHAHA! I never thought to just roll the baguette in the seeds! You'd think that something so simple would be common place but I just never thought of it before!

    As always your breads look wonderful. Love the stuffed loaf. I did a similar one with turkey, dressing and gravy from our Christmas dinner leftovers and it worked out very well!

    You got a great dark color for the pumpernickel loaf!