Rustic Pumpernickel Recipe

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Artisan Sourdough Made Simple: A Beginner's Guide to Delicious Handcrafted Bread with Minimal KneadingThis sourdough is rich, slightly sweet, and boasts a beautiful toffee color. It uses pumpernickel flour, also known as whole rye, which is made from coarsely ground rye berries. Once baked, the crust becomes extra crunchy with a hearty, fennel-kissed crumb. I love grilled pumpernickel sandwiches with turkey, melted Swiss, and coleslaw. Or try a few slices with my feel-good Weeknight Tuscan Ribollita soup.

About the Dough: Because pumpernickel flour lacks sufficient gluten, this dough will feel very stiff, similar to wet mud when mixed. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it? Add the oil after the dough has rested. This was initially my human error, but it turned out to be one of those happy mistakes that makes better bread. Place this dough inside a well-floured proofing basket to create whimsical powdered lines on the outside crust.

  • Yield: 1 Loaf


  • 50 g (¼ cup) bubbly, active starter
  • 365 g (1½ cups plus 1 tsp) warm water
  • 40 g (2 tbsp) unsulphured molasses
  • 120 g (1 cup) pumpernickel flour
  • 380 g (about 3¼ cups) bread flour
  • 9 g (1½ tsp) fine sea salt
  • 30 g (2 tbsp) oil
  • 5 g (1 tbsp) fennel seeds, optional
How to Make It
  1. A few days before baking, feed your starter until bubbly and active. Store at room temperature until ready to use.
  2. Make the Dough
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the starter, water, and molasses together with a fork. Add the flours and salt. Combine until a thick, dense dough forms and then finish by hand until the flour is absorbed. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Meanwhile, replenish your starter with fresh flour and water, and store according to preference.
  4. After the dough has rested, add the oil and fennel seeds, if using, to the bowl. Gently knead to incorporate or until the oil is well absorbed. The dough will feel much softer and not as stiff as it was earlier.
  5. Bulk Rise
  6. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise at room temperature until double in size, about 8 to 10 hours at 70°F (21°C).
  7. Shape
  8. Remove the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape into a round and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, dust an 8-inch (20-cm) proofing basket with flour. With floured hands, gently cup the dough and pull it toward you in a circular motion to tighten its shape. Place the dough into your basket, seam side up.
  9. Second Rise
  10. Cover the dough and let rest until puffy, but not double in size, about 1½ to 2 hours, depending on temperature.
  11. Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C). Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit the size of your baking pot.
  12. Score
  13. Place the parchment over the dough and invert the basket to release. Using the tip of a small knife or razor blade, make four shallow 4-inch (10-cm) long cuts at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock around the dough. Then, make four leaf-shaped cuts in between. Use the parchment to transfer the dough into the baking pot.
  14. Bake
  15. Bake the dough, covered, on the center rack for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, and continue to bake for 40 minutes. If the loaf starts to brown too quickly because of the sugars in the molasses, loosely tent with foil. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 1 hour before slicing.
  16. This sourdough will last for 1 to 2 days stored at room temperature in a plastic bag.

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