Dan Leader’s dark pumpernickel with raisins

IMG_6047.JPGThis was the third recipe I made from Dan Leader’s book Bread Alone.  The other two were his cider apple bread and fig and cognac bread.  I’ve remarked before that I’m sensing a fruity pattern with the recipes I tagged!  I decided to let Mr. Bread Maiden pick which one he wanted me to make next and he picked this one, so maybe it’s something in the air.dsc03646

I’ve gained a lot of confidence this year in my rye breads, mostly because I learned the secret of great textured ryes this year: using sourdough starter.  I have Peter Reinhart to thank for this epiphany, because it seems so counter-intuitive I never would’ve figured it out on my own.  I’ll save the explanation for another day, but yeah.  I’ll never make rye bread without a sourdough starter again.  It transforms mushy, soggy rye bread into dense, creamy rye bread.


This is my starter which I usually feed with AP flour.  I had to transform it into a rye starter the night before I wanted to bake.


For this recipe (which makes two loaves) you will need:

2 cups raisins

enough hot water to cover the raisins

2 cups active rye sourdough starter

2 cup lukewarm espresso or strong coffee

1/2 cup rye flour

3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup molasses

1 tablespoon salt

3-4 cups 60/40 mix of AP flour and whole wheat flour, possibly more

  1. Measure out the raisins in a small bowl, then cover them by one inch with water that has been heated to boiling.  Let stand eight hours or overnight. The next morning, drain the raisins but keep the raisin-soaking water.dsc03648
  2. Make sure you have enough starter the night before.  Feed and let ferment overnight.
  3. The next day, mix together the starter, the raisin-soaking water, and the coffee i a large bowl.  Break up the starter so everything is mixed up and looks frothy.  Then add the rye and whole wheat flours, the cocoa, the molasses, the raisins and the salt until well combined.  Keep adding the 60/40 AP flour and whole wheat flour mix until the dough is very stiff.  IMG_6025.JPGMy dough was nowhere near stiff, so I had to add another cup or so of flour before it came together in a workable ball.  IMG_6026.JPG
  4. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead 10 minutes.  Don’t worry if the dough is still sticky; ryes are like that.  Put the dough back into the bowl and let rise 3-4 hours.  Punch it down and let it rise a second time for about two hours.  Divide the dough and shape into loaves then place into floured couches, bannetons, willow baskets, or napkins in small bowls (which is what I did because I was baking at my parents’ house). Let rise 1.5 to 2 hours more.  45 minutes before you plan to bake, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with a dutch oven inside.IMG_6028.JPG
  5. One nice thing about baking at my parents’ house is that my dad willingly took pictures so for once you can see my face and me scoring the dough!

    stripy socks



    not sure where my sister’s razor blade went but I used dad’s box cutter from his tool box (after washing it of course!).

    Flip the loaves from the napkin/couche/banneton into the dutch oven so the seam side is on the bottom and the smooth side is on the top.  Bake at 500 degrees for 15 minutes with the lid on, then 375 degrees with the lid on for 15 minutes, the 375 degrees with the lid OFF for 15 minutes.  That is usually enough time for the dough to cook fully but I added an additional five minutes because they just didn’t seem done to me when I felt the surface of the loaf.img_6039img_6046img_6047As you can see, the loaves were dense but not soggy.  When I say soggy, I mean the way my rye breads used to look:


    Nobody wants to eat this.

    This is all because of sourdough starter!  This pumpernickel is nice and dark.  It is very molasses-y in flavor, probably because the recipe called for an entire cup of molasses!  I’m not sure I would use that much in the future.  Anyway, I liked the sweetness of the raisins and I think it might even be good breakfast bread too.

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