This pumpernickel bread is super easy to make, and produces a delicious loaf with a dark color, distinctive texture, and rich flavor perfect for sandwiches or appetizers.
If you love baking, then you will definitely enjoy this hearty multigrain bread and whole wheat molasses bread.
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Curious what you need to make our pumpernickel bread? Let's talk about a few of the key ingredients for this delicious recipe.
- Rye Flour: Since pumpernickel is a type of rye bread, this is definitely a key ingredient. I used medium whole-grain rye flour for this recipe.
- Bread Flour: This strengthens the loaf and helps hold it together.
- Molasses & Cocoa: Since this is a shortcut pumpernickel recipe, adding a little molasses and cocoa imitates the flavor of a traditional, slow-baked loaf.
- Caraway Seeds: These aromatic seeds add a lovely flavor the pumpernickel bread. Feel free to omit them if you don't care for them.
How to Make
- Pour both flours into a mixing bowl, then add the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl. Stir them in with your finger, making sure that the salt and yeast don't touch each other directly. (Salt can kill the yeast upon contact.)
- Mix in the cocoa powder and caraway seeds.
3. Add the molasses and half of the warm water, then mix to start forming a dough.
4. Keep mixing and adding more water as needed until a slightly sticky dough has formed and all the flour is picked up from the bowl.
5. Knead for about 10 minutes on a floured surface, until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. The dough will not be stretchy, because rye flour doesn't contain gluten.
Place the dough in a buttered bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise in the fridge overnight (8 hours). It should noticeably increase in size.
6. Dust a cookie sheet with rye flour, then flip the loaf onto the tray and cover with plastic wrap.
7. Let the loaf rise for 1 hour. Put the loaf on the upper shelf of a cold oven, then place a pan of boiling water underneath the tray. This creates a warm, humid atmosphere that encourages the yeasts' growth.
8. Once the loaf has proved, cut a shallow diamond pattern on top of the loaf with a lame or sharp serrated knife. Slide the proved loaf into the preheated oven and pour fresh water into the pan, creating steam. Quickly shut the oven door.
Bake at 425°F for 30 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for another 30 minutes, until the loaf has an internal temperature of 200°F. Let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.
Pumpernickel is low in fat, and high in protein and fiber to keep you full. It's a healthy choice for those who are watching their weight.
Pumpernickel is typically served in small, thin slices with a strongly flavored topping. Our family particularly enjoys it spread with Dijon mustard, raw red onion, and a small piece of Limburger cheese.
This dark bread is a combination of wheat flour and rye flour. The larger proportion of rye flour is what gives it the most flavor while the molasses helps give it texture and dark color.
Traditional German pumpernickel gets its brown hue from the Maillard reaction during its 16-24 hour baking. In quicker homemade loaves, cocoa powder and molasses are often added to enhance the color and flavor.
Leftovers: After cooling the pumpernickel loaf completely, seal it tightly in a zip-top plastic bag, pressing out the extra air. Store at room temperature for the best freshness. (The fridge will make it go stale quickly.) If you're not going to eat all of it within 24 hours of baking, it's best to freeze it.
Freezer: Store it sliced or whole. Wrap in foil and seal inside a zip-top freezer bag, pressing out the extra air. You can freeze for up to 3 months.
- Use a blend of bread flour and rye flour. If you used only rye flour, it would be incredibly dense and heavy and would hardly rise at all, no matter how long you let it prove. The bread flour lightens it up just a bit and helps it rise a little.
- Give the dough lots of time to rise. Rye flour is much heavier than wheat flour, which slows down the rising process. A slow rise actually creates a better flavored loaf anyway.
- Start baking at a high temperature, then lower it. This encourages a crispy crust without burning the loaf.
- Use a meat thermometer to see if the loaf is baked. It's almost impossible to tell by eye if pumpernickel is cooked through because it's so dense and doesn't color much in the oven. The thermometer should read 200 F when inserted into the center of the loaf.
- Let it cool for a few hours before slicing it. I know that it's hard to wait, but pumpernickel is really dense and takes a long time to cool. The cooling time actually allows it to finish cooking through, so cutting it too soon will make it gummy and doughy.
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- 2 cups whole-grain rye flour, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 ⅔ cups bread flour
- 4 ¼ teaspoons fast-action yeast
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons caraway seeds
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- 3 tablespoons molasses
- 1 ½ cups warm water
Day #1: Making the Dough
- Place both flours in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl, stirring in each one with a finger.
- Sift in the cocoa powder and dump in the caraway seeds. Stir everything together until mixed.
- Add the molasses and about half of the water. Start mixing the dough by hand, gradually adding more water until all the flour is picked up and a soft, slightly sticky dough is formed. You may not need all of the water, depending upon the humidity and the brands of flours you are using.
- Turn out the dough onto a work surface dusted with bread flour. Knead for about 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and no longer so sticky. Since rye flour contains no gluten, the dough will not be stretchy like a traditional white dough.
- Shape into a ball, place in a lightly buttered bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough prove in the fridge overnight, or at least 8 hours. The dough will about double in size.
Day#2: Proving the Dough
- Take the dough out of the fridge and place it in an unheated oven. Put a metal pan of boiling water in the oven to create steam and warm the dough. Let it rest in the steamy oven for about 1 hour, changing out the water as needed.
- Dust an 11x17-inch rimmed cookie sheet with rye flour. Gently turn out the risen loaf onto the prepared tray, taking great care not to knock out the gas trapped in the dough. Gently rub some rye flour onto the top of the loaf and cover with plastic wrap.
- Let the loaf prove in the steamy oven for 1 hour. Remove the loaf and the pan of water from the oven and let it prove on the countertop while the oven preheats to 425 F. Stack the loaf tray on top of another cookie sheet to insulate the bottom, preventing it from burning in the oven.
Day #2: Baking the Loaf
- Preheat the oven to 425 F. Empty the metal pan and put it on the lowest rack of the oven to preheat.
- Once the oven has preheated, score the loaf in a diamond pattern with a bread lame or sharp knife. Place the pumpernickel loaf in the oven, quickly pour some water into the preheated dish to create steam, and immediately shut the oven door.
- Bake at 425 F for 30 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 F and bake for another 30 minutes. The loaf is done when it is crusty and has an internal temperature of 200 F.
- Let the pumpernickel loaf cool for at least 2-4 hours before serving to allow the loaf to finish cooking through. To serve, slice thinly and spread with butter or desired toppings.
- Use both rye flour and bread flour to keep the bread from being too dense and heavy.
- The dough will rise very slowly. This is totally normal, and is why I recommend starting this the day before.
- Ensure a crispy crust by baking the loaf first at a high temperature, then at a lower temp to finish cooking it through.
- You'll need a thermometer to tell if the bread is cooked in the middle. Rye doesn't darken much in the oven, so you can't eyeball it.
- Let the pumpernickel cool completely before slicing and serving, as it's very dense and needs this time to finish cooking in the middle.
Serving sizes and nutritional information are only an estimate and may vary from your results.
This recipe was originally published on October 27, 2017.
Thank you for this wonderful resource.. I will come back soon as I want to make some popovers! Thanks Again!!!
Thank you, David! We don't currently have a popover recipe on our site, but we may publish one in the future. Happy baking!
Has anyone tried proofing in the oven with the proof setting rather than the steam?
I'm sure that would work really well! Unfortunately, I don't have access to an oven with a proof setting, but if you give it a try, please let me know how it went!
Hi! Can I leave it to sit out overnight as I do my other breads?
If you're referring to the first prove, I'd recommend popping it in the fridge rather than leaving it out on the counter. Although this bread does rise very slowly, putting it in the fridge slows down the rise even more, which keeps it from over-rising during the night. Hope this helps!
The crust is quite chewy, but it is very good.❤️😍
Homemade pumpernickel bread is a nice treat.
DENISE F Bisio
this bread is amazing! first effort, nailed it.
That's fantastic, Denise! Thanks for making my recipe.