Friday, November 8, 2013

TWD: Pumpernickel Loaves

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan
Contributing Baker: Lauren Groveman 

I have to start off by saying, the end of daylight savings time is killing me! Summer, hurry back, please.

Bread. I have found this to be the hardest to photograph. How does one make bread (muffins, etc.) look pretty? I took 123 pictures of the finished product alone. Crazy.

I know what most of you are thinking: This is what went into the bread? Strange. I agree. But it works. You don't really taste any of the individual components.

And if you Google traditional pumpernickel, you won't find them there, other than the molasses; but the coffee, molasses, supposed to be prune lekvar (prune butter - I could not find any and did not feel like making it, so I subbed plum preserves), and the chocolate is what gives this bread its dark (not as dark as I was expecting) color.

Also, the traditional recipe calls for a baking time of anywhere from 6 to 12 hours (this is where it gets its color from) at a low temperature of 225°F. Whereas this recipe only bakes for approximately 40 minutes. Yeah. I would have skipped this recipe if it had to bake that long.

After kneading and forming your dough into a ball, it has two rising periods before shaping. About two hours each - depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

Once the loaf is shaped (for detailed photos - see my post for European Rye), place on a floured towel, this becomes a sling for a final resting period of forty minutes.

Lauren, the contributing baker, calls for you to poke holes in the corners of the towels, and to use an S-hook to hang them from. I think she is just wacky for doing so (I'm sure Julia [Child] did too) - kitchen towels don't come cheap. Do as I did, tie the corners together and hang from string or ribbon.

I was going to bake the bread on a baking stone, but to make a short story even shorter, I didn't. I used a half-sheet pan - covered with parchment. Then as directed, covered the parchment with some cornmeal, and added extra poppy and caraway seeds.

 I liked the look of the bread before it was baked! That would have made for a beautiful loaf.

After placing the loaves on the baking sheet (or stone), smooth side up, you slash the tops, give them an egg wash, and sprinkle with extra caraway and poppy seeds if desired, and bake away!

The instructions say to wait two to three hours before slicing. That wasn't going to happen. The bread was done about an hour before dinner was served, and this bread was on the menu.

I was pleasantly surprised at how moist this bread is - even the next day.

I was hoping to have a picture of a delicious looking turkey sandwich, but I forgot to buy turkey - hence the buttered slice - it will have to suffice. (Ha! I'm a poet, and didn't even know it!)

My husband and daughter enjoyed this bread. Me, I am still undecided if I care for pumpernickel in general. My only recollection of having pumpernickel before, is the small, dark, dry, little squares that you can purchase in the deli department of your grocery store. The ones they use to make those little tea sandwiches with. (Update: Yeah. This is good.)

I did enjoy it with a slathering of butter. Butter does make everything better..

Please visit my co-baker's blogs to see their experiences and takes (the prune lekvar is not an easy find) on this recipe. You will find their links over on the TWD website - under the LYL: Pumpernickel Loaves link. 

The recipe is on page 95 of Baking with Julia, or you can find it here on Lauren's webpage.

To see Lauren making this bread herself, click here for the video.


  1. Your bread is gorgeous!
    I couldn't punch a hole in my towels either. The ones I had that were big enough for this were Williams and Sonoma finds. Not putting a hold in those!

  2. I had to skip this recipe, but your loaf looks great!

  3. Beautiful photo with the buttered slice. I didn't punch holes in my towels either...I used binder clips and hung the slings from a pot rack. I found prune lekvar in the baking section of my supermarket, with the canned cherry pie filling, etc. The plum preserves is an inspired substitute though.

  4. Those are great pics of your bread!! It looks fabulous! I too thought she was crazy putting holes in her towels! Sheesh!

  5. Looks like your bread turned out great, and your photos look very good - I think getting up close is really helpful. I know that I am somewhat stumped right now by the decrease in hours of light per day - I am not usually done with the project at a time when I could take it out on the back porch to photograph in the light :-)

  6. I was feeling violent (it was a perfect recipe for Halloween, don't you think), so I had a good time with the punching and slashing...

    I think you'll like the bread better if you pair it with stronger flavors: cream cheese, swiss, mustard, pastrami... the list is endless! (I found the butter combo to be just "eh." And I am a huge butter fan. Why else would I be baking with Julia? :)

  7. Your Pumpernickel bread looks amazing! I found it sooo funny to have the bread hanging in the kitchen.
    I loved it too, and still have some slice in the freezer: it makes good toasts.

  8. 100+ pictures is pure dedication :) The bread looks very yum with all the seeds!

  9. 123 pictures?!? You're amazing. The ones you posted do look great. I'm glad you all enjoyed the bread...You asked about my instant espresso going bad. Yes, there was actually mold growing on it! I was shocked. I'm going to follow your lead and keep mine in the freezer from now on.


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