I learned a few things about pumpernickel bread while baking these loaves from a recipe in Baking With Julia. I had always thought that pumpernickel bread was made with rye and graham flours. Since this recipe didn’t require graham flour, I did some research and found that graham flour is actually coarsely ground whole wheat flour. Pumpernickel bread uses a coarsely ground rye flour. I used the only rye flour that I could find, Arrowhead Mills brand whole grain rye flour, which didn’t seem especially coarse.
I also learned that traditionally pumpernickel bread got its dark color from long slow baking at a low temperature in covered pans. This recipe uses several dark colored (and flavorful) ingredients to achieve a dark colored bread: espresso powder, dark unsweetened chocolate, molasses, and prune butter. These ingredients along with caraway seeds contributed a complex compliment of flavors to the loaves.
A third discovery was that pumpernickel originated in Germany and that its name comes from pumpern, meaning having flatulence, and nickel, a form of Nicholas and a term for the devil. So pumpernickel means “devil’s fart,” a name that came from its being hard to digest.
I didn’t have any digestion problems from eating this pumpernickel bread. I found its flavors very layered and interesting, and its texture dense and chewy on the inside, crusty and crunchy on the outside. It took a while to put the dough together with the varied ingredients. There were three rises, two in the bowl, one after forming into loaves. The technique of hanging the formed loaves in dish towel slings for the second rise was unique.
The recipe can be found on pages 95-98 of Baking With Julia, and you can read about other bakers’ experiences baking pumpernickel bread by going to their links on the Tuesdays With Dorie website.
P.S. The bread makes surprisingly good toast.