Bavarian pumpernickel in a makeshift pullman pan


Since unlocking the secrets of rye bread (read more here and here), I’ve been making loaf after loaf – first 30% rye, then 50% rye, and even a delicious 100% rye, which I didn’t even think was possible.


I’ve documented my many mistakes making rye on here, which makes these new successes all the sweeter.  There’s a whole section of Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads that I’ve been tearing through for the first time.


One such recipe that I tried recently was Reinhart’s Bavarian pumpernickel.  It’s intentionally dense, he writes, and the oven spring is inhibited by using a pullman pan.


I do not have a pullman pan.  It’s unlikely that my readers do either.  But Reinhart has an alternative – using a regular bread pan with a baking sheet on top.

Like the hurtzelbrot, the Bavarian pumpernickel requires some advanced planning.  You need an active rye starter and a loaf of rye bread for the altus.  I happened to have some rye mash left over from the hurtzelbrot, so I didn’t have to make another one.


For this recipe, you will need:

for the starter:

71g active starter

213 rye flour

170g water

for the mash: 

300g water

120g rye flour

170g altus (bread cut into 1/2 inch cubes and soaked in 1/2 cup hot water)

for the final dough:

all of the starter

all of the mash

255g whole rye flour

170g cooked wheat or rye berries

14g salt

7g instant yeast

14g cocoa powder

  1. On day 1, cook the wheat or rye berries in 1.5 cups water and let simmer one hour.  Let cool, then cover and refrigerate until Day 2.  Mix together the starter ingredients, cover and let rise overnight.  Follow the instructions for the mash in the hurtzelbrot recipe.  Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight.
  2. On the morning of day 2, mix together the final dough.  DSC03249Let sit for five minutes, then knead again for about a minute until smooth and fully incorporated.  DSC03251Oil a bowl and roll the dough ball to coat in the oil.  Let it rest for about 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.DSC03252
  3. Once the oven has preheated, remove your dough ball to a floured surface.  Pat it down into a disk, then roll it up and place it in an oiled bread pan.  DSC03253Pat it down so the top is flat, then sprinkle flour on the top.  Bake immediately with a heavy baking sheet on top.DSC03255
  4. After thirty minutes, transfer the bread out of the bread pan onto the baking sheet so the top is on the bottom.  Rotate the dough every 10 minutes so it bakes evenly.  Remove after 45 minutes and let cool completely before slicing.DSC03256DSC03258


    I weighted the bread down a little more while it cooled so it had more of a square shape

Reinhart says this bread is best when it’s sliced thin and paired with meats, soups or strong cheeses.


You can see some of the wheat berries in the dough; they add a nice chewiness.  Little Bread Dude saw the loaf on the counter and asked for a slice.  Typically he doesn’t go for hearty breads, but he really liked this!  It might be because there’s some sweetness to it, and it has a soft, rather than crusty, crust.

Due to the extra elements required to have on hand to make this bread (the starter, altus, and mash), it probably won’t ever become an everyday bread for us.  But it’s nice to know I won’t be the only one eating it when I do make it!

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