This easy homemade bread can be started the night before so you can enjoy fresh pumpernickel bread tomorrow.  It’s a vegan bread that’s perfect for appetizers or a healthy breakfast.  No machine is needed for this simple bread recipe!

Prep Time: 35 minutes
slices of pumpernickel bread with the loaf
Savory Bread

Overnight Pumpernickel Bread

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This recipe was originally published on October 27, 2017.

This overnight pumpernickel bread is actually inspired from my Grandpa’s sourdough caraway bread.  I loved it so much that I wanted to make a yeast version that was simpler to make.  The overnight method is super easy and produces a yummy loaf the next day!

Overnight Pumpernickel Bread: a dark, dense, caraway-flavored loaf that's easy to make with the overnight method. | www.savortheflavour.com

Using rye flour changes a bread significantly!  You’ll notice that it feels much different when mixing and kneading.  The dough will be grainy from the coarse-ground rye and won’t feel smooth and elastic like a white bread dough.  Most noticeably, it takes much longer to rise than a traditional white bread loaf,because of its heavier flour.  Rye is also gluten-free, so this loaf will not rise as high as a white loaf, even with the addition of some white bread flour.  The unique flavor and aroma of this dough is unbeatable, though!

loaf of pumpernickel bread with butter dish

Is pumpernickel bread good for weight loss?

Pumpernickel bread 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.

slices of pumpernickel bread with the loaf

Where does pumpernickel come from?

Pumpernickel bread comes from Germany, and is popular throughout Europe.

Why is pumpernickel bread brown?

  • 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.

holding a slice of pumpernickel bread

How to Store Pumpernickel Bread

  • Let the bread cool completely.
  • Seal it tightly in a zip-top plastic bag, pressing out the extra air.
  • Store at room temperature for best freshness.  (The fridge will make the bread go stale quickly.)
  • If you’re not going to eat all the bread within 24 hours of baking, freeze it.

sliced loaf of pumpernickel bread with butter

Can you freeze pumpernickel bread?

  • Yes, you can freeze pumpernickel bread.
  • Slice the cooled bread with a sharp serrated knife or leave it whole.
  • Wrap the bread in foil and seal inside a zip-top freezer bag, pressing out the extra air.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months.

How to Make Overnight Pumpernickel Bread

Gather the ingredients for the pumpernickel bread.  You’ll need bread flour, whole grain rye flour, salt, yeast, cocoa powder, molasses, water, and caraway seeds.

ingredients for pumpernickel bread

Pour the rye flour and bread flour 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.)

flour, salt, and yeast in a bowl

Mix in the cocoa powder and caraway seeds.

adding cocoa powder and caraway seeds to flour mixture

Add the molasses and half of the warm water, then mix to start forming a dough.

adding molasses and water to flour mixture

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.

pumpernickel bread dough in a bowl

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.

kneaded pumpernickel bread dough in a bowl

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.

risen pumpernickel bread dough in a bowl

Dust a cookie sheet with rye flour, then flip the loaf onto the tray and cover with plastic wrap.

loaf of pumpernickel bread on a cookie sheet

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 bread.  This creates a warm, humid atmosphere that encourages the yeasts’ growth.

risen loaf of pumpernickel bread on a cookie sheet

Once the loaf has proved, cut a shallow diamond pattern on top of the loaf with a bread 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 the bread 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 the bread cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

loaf of pumpernickel bread with a thermometer on a cooling rack

Give this loaf a try!  It requires only a little prep time, and tastes delicious! 😋

Pro Tips for Making Pumpernickel Bread

  • Use a blend of bread flour and rye flour.  If you used only rye flour, the bread 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 the dough the night before.  Letting the dough prove its first time in the fridge saves you time and creates a better-flavored loaf.
  • Start baking the bread 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 if pumpernickel bread 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 the bread cool for a few hours before slicing it.  I know that it’s hard to wait, but pumpernickel bread is really dense and takes a long time to cool.  The cooling time actually allows the bread to finish cooking through, so cutting it too soon will make it gummy and doughy.

bag of flour, thermometer, lame with blades, and wire cooling rack

Our Go-To Kitchen Tools for Pumpernickel Bread

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loaf of rye bread on a cutting board loaf of multigrain bread in the pan slices of whole wheat molasses bread with the loaf

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slices of pumpernickel bread with the loaf

Overnight Pumpernickel Bread


  • Author: Emma
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 11 hours 35 minutes
  • Yield: 1 small loaf 1x

Description

This easy homemade bread can be started the night before so you can enjoy fresh pumpernickel bread tomorrow.  It’s a vegan bread that’s perfect for appetizers or a healthy breakfast.  No machine is needed for this simple bread recipe!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole-grain rye flour, plus more for sprinkling (300g)
  • 1 2/3 cups bread flour (200g)
  • 4 1/4 teaspoons fast-action yeast (14g)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (10g)
  • 3 tablespoons caraway seeds (24g)
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (7g)
  • 3 tablespoons molasses (65g)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (350 ml)

Instructions

Day #1: Making the Dough (30 min + 8 hrs proving )

  1. Place the rye and bread flours in a large mixing bowl.  Add the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl, stirring in each one with a finger.
  2. Sift in the cocoa powder and dump in the caraway seeds.  Stir everything together until mixed.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 bread dough.
  5. 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 (2 hrs)

  1. 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.
  2. Dust an 11×17-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.
  3. 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 (1 hr baking + 2-4 hrs cooling)

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Empty the metal pan and put it on the lowest rack of the oven to preheat.
  2. Once the oven has preheated, score the loaf in a diamond pattern with a bread lame or sharp knife.  Place the loaf in the oven, quickly pour some water into the preheated dish to create steam, and immediately shut the oven door.
  3. 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.
  4. Let the 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.

Notes

  • Whole-grain rye flour is also called pumpernickel flour.
  • If you’re looking for a delicious gourmet appetizer, serve this bread topped with dijon mustard, raw red onions, and a small piece of Limburger cheese.
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: German

Keywords: pumpernickel bread, pumpernickel bread recipe, healthy pumpernickel bread

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