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Rustic Pumpernickel Bread


ATTENTION AMERICAN people, New York deli-lovers especially: If you think you know what real pumpernickel or rye bread is, you’ve got another thing coming! When I first moved here from Australia, much to my dismay, I discovered that your “rye bread” is none other than white bread, with a dash of rye flour and a whole lot of caraway seeds and with so much molasses that it appears to be wholesome dense bread, but yeah, it’s basically the exact opposite.
This is the recipe I created to combat this false American rye. That’s right. Someone had to do it! It’s based very loosely on traditional German pumpernickel.

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 2 loaves ServingsServings


  • 500 grams flour (about 4 cups) (a blend of dark rye flour and whole grain bread flour)
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds (whole, crushed or toasted, either way)
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup cooked rye berries, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 cup tepid water
  • Olive or walnut oil


Note: The more white or wheat flour you use, the easier it will be to knead and the lighter the bread will be. The more rye flour you use, the more strength you’ll need to knead the dough, and the heavier the resulting loaf
will be. Both are good options.
I prefer denser bread, but feel free to play around. If you don't know which way to start, do an even split of 50/50 and see how it goes.

Note: Rye berries can be found in health food stores. You can substitute with wheat berries, if you would like.

1. Combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Add the cooked rye berries, molasses and most of the water. Knead and add more water or flour if needed. Roll the dough into a ball and oil it.
2. Oil a bowl ready for the dough and cover with a wet cloth.
3. Let the dough sit for a couple of hours to rise, preferably in a warm place.
4. After it has clearly risen, punch the dough down and knead it again, then let it rise for another couple of hours.
5. After the second rise, section the dough to make small loaves or bread rolls. (Longer baguette- shaped loaves work really well; the middle of the loaf cooks through without overdoing the crust, so it’s just perfect.)
6. Let the loaves sit again, but this time for only about 20 min- utes. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
7. Place a large pan in the oven and fill it with water to create steam while the bread bakes. The bread will take about 20 minutes to bake.

Bake check: The bread should feel firm and crusty, but still spring back when you press it, a bit like a heavy cake. You can also flick and tap the bottom and if it sounds sort of hollow, it’s ready for the cooling rack.

As seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine

Chanukah 2013

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