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Pumpernickle Bread

So, I am now 11 days into my year of not repeating any recipes (if you haven't done so yet, check out my new blog ,  no reEATS where three of us try to not make the same dish twice for a year ). Because The Neighbour gave us a big bowl of her delicious beef stew, I don't have to cook dinner tonight but I felt like I should still contribute something new to the meal. The obvious thing  to accompany a hearty beef stew is bread so I got my favourite bread book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking, and looked for a bread that I hadn't made yet. I settled on the pumpernickel bread.

The dough is much stickier than the basic boule type breads so be prepared for an ooey, gooey mess on your hands if attempt to use them to transfer the dough from your stand mixer to your bowl like I did. Also, I didn't have any caramel colour (honestly, what kind of people keep that sort of thing on hand? )
and I was a bit worried that my bread would come out looking all grey and tired and like it had the bread flu but it is fine. It might not be as dark brown as it would be if I used the caramel colouring but it is seriously tasty. I think this might even become my new favourite bread. I have to admit, I was a bit alarmed by how wet the dough was for this first loaf, without any refrigeration. It was not like the other doughs at all and it just kind of looked like a big, blobby mess that was never going to hold any shape, but instead just ooze all over the stone like The Thing. Luckily, this did not happen and the loaf came out fine. It's not as high as other loaves but the texture is great, it's got a nice crunchy crust and it's lovely and chewy and flavourful.

Pumpernickel Bread:
(enough for 4 one lb. loaves)

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbls granulated yeast or 1 1/2 packets
1 1/2 tbls salt
2 tbls molasses
1 1/2 tbls unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp instant espresso or coffee (or do what i did and sub in 2 cups of  brewed coffee for 2 cups of the water, keeping the end total at 3 cups of liquid)
1 1/2 tbls of caramel colour
1 cup of rye flour
5 1/2 cups of all purpose, non bleached flour
Cornmeal for your pizza peel or upside down cookie tray
Whole caraway seeds for sprinkling on the top, which is optional (i hate them so I don't use them)
Cornstarch wash

See? Ooey gooey hot mess, isn't it?

  1. mix the yeast with the salt, molasses, cocoa, coffee powder if using, the caramel colour and the water in a 5 quart bowl or a lidded food container (make sure it has a loose fitting lid or you will have to poke a few holes in it to make sure the gasses can escape or you will have a hot mess on your hands by tomorrow)
  2. add in the flours, without kneading and using a big spoon or a heavy duty stand mixer with the dough hook attached. If you choose to do this in a bowl by hand, you will probably have to use wet hands to mix in the very last of the flour.. It's a wet, sticky dough
  3. Cover (not airtight) and let it rest at room temp until the dough rises and collapses which takes about 2 hrs
  4. you can use the dough right away after the resting period or you can refrigerate it. It's a lot more difficult to work with before it's been in the fridge but you can do it. Put remaining dough in the loosely covered bowl in the fridge and use it at any time over the next 8 days.
  5. ON BAKING DAY: cut off a grapefruit (about 1 lb) sized piece of dough and using wet hands (no flour with this one), shape the dough into a ball and pull the sides under to the bottom like you would for the boule and then form an oval shaped loaf. Let it rest and rise on your cornmeal covered pizza peel (or i used to just use a small cookie tin upside down and it worked fine) 40 minutes.
  6. 20 minutes before baking time, preheat your oven to 400F with a baking stone in the centre of the stove. Put and empty broiler tray or some other vessel that you can put water into on the shelf underneath the pizza stone.
  7. Use a pastry brush to paint the top of the loaf with the *cornstarch wash and sprinkle with seeds if you want. I don't like caraway so I used a mix of chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds on there. Slash the loaf with deep cuts, using a serrated bread knife.
  8. Slide the loaf directly onto the hot pizza stone and pour a cup of hot tap water into the tray or whatever vessel you are using and quickly close the door. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until it's firm. Of course, smaller or bigger loaves will need time adjustments.
  9. Allow to cool before slicing - Like i have EVER done that lol
*Cornstarch wash:
blend 1/2 tsp of cournstarch with a bit of water to make a paste and then add 1/2 cup of water and whisk it together. Microwave or boil til the mix looks glassy. It keeps for 2 weeks in the fridge.

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