Pumpernickel Bread

published Feb 15, 2022
Pumpernickel Bread Recipe

Full of hearty, earthy rye flour with a strong, toasty flavor, pumpernickel bread deserves a place of honor on your dinner (and breakfast!) table.

Serves10

Makes1 loaf

Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook25 minutes to 45 minutes

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a load of pumpernickel bread with two slices cut off and laid down on a cutting board.
Credit: Shilpa Uskokovic

Full of hearty, earthy rye flour with a strong, toasty flavor, pumpernickel bread deserves a place of honor on your dinner (and breakfast!) table. While classic pumpernickel bread is made with nothing more than rye flour, water, and salt, some versions, such as this recipe, use a combination of rye and wheat flour for a lighter, loftier loaf. 

The dough for this bread is stickier than usual — don’t be alarmed or tempted to add more flour! Adding more flour will make the bread heavy and dense. The good news is that the dough requires minimal handling. After bringing it together in a stand mixer, it’s simply pressed into a greased and lined tin where it takes its final shape as it rises. Caraway seeds make for a fragrant addition that complements the rye flour excellently, but feel free to leave them out if desired. Adding the caraway seeds towards the end of the mixing process minimizes the chances of their sharp edges cutting into the gluten strands in the dough.   

What’s the Difference Between Rye Bread and Pumpernickel Bread?

Pumperknickel bread is a type of rye bread traditionally made with a sourdough starter and coarsely ground rye flour (and sometimes whole rye berries). It’s typically baked slowly for a very long time to promote a Maillard reaction, which lends the bread its signature dark, burnished color. Rye bread can be light or dark in color and can contain varying amounts of wheat flour. 

What Gives Pumpernickel Bread Its Dark Color?

The characteristically deep, dark color of pumpernickel bread comes from rye flour and the resulting caramelization from a long, slow bake. This recipe uses a bit of cocoa powder and molasses for a deep color and the earthy flavor notes both ingredients bring.  

Credit: Shilpa Uskokovic

How to Serve Pumpernickel Bread 

While pumpernickel bread is wonderful simply sliced and slathered with butter, it’s also great used in closed or open-faced sandwiches. Some ideas for fillings or toppings include the following:

  • Good-quality butter, ham, and cornichons
  • Cream cheese and thinly sliced cucumber
  • Cream cheese, smoked salmon, and thinly sliced red onion with a sprinkle of fresh dill. 
  • Egg, chicken, or tuna salad
  • Corned beef or pastrami with mustard and pickles

Pumpernickel Bread Recipe

Full of hearty, earthy rye flour with a strong, toasty flavor, pumpernickel bread deserves a place of honor on your dinner (and breakfast!) table.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes to 45 minutes

Makes 1 loaf

Serves 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons

    Dutch processed or natural unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 2 cups

    hot water

  • 1/4 cup

    instant mashed potato flakes

  • 2 tablespoons

    vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons

    molasses (not blackstrap)

  • 1 tablespoon

    granulated sugar

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1 (1/4-ounce) packet

    instant yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

  • 2 cups

    bread flour

  • 2 cups

    rye flour, preferably dark

  • 2 teaspoons

    caraway seeds (optional)

  • Cooking spray, softened butter, or oil, for the pan

Instructions

  1. Place 2 cups of the hottest water from your tap in the bowl of a stand mixer, add 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, and whisk fully dissolved. Add 1/4 cup instant mashed potato flakes, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons molasses, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1 packet instant yeast. Whisk until combined.

  2. Add 2 cups bread flour and 2 cups rye flour. Mx on with the dough hook on the lowest speed until a sticky dough forms, 7 to 10 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons caraway seeds, if using, and mix until fully incorporated, about 2 minutes.

  3. Use a rubber spatula or flexible bench scraper to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate or lid and let the dough rest until puffed and risen, 50 to 90 minutes. The dough might not quite double in size but will be OK as long as it’s puffy. Meanwhile, lightly coat an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch metal loaf pan with cooking spray. (Alternatively, lightly brush with oil or softened butter.) Line the pan with parchment paper, letting the excess hang over the 2 long sides to form a sling.

  4. Using oiled hands, punch the dough down in the mixer bowl and roughly shape into a log. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Press down firmly to level the dough and push it into the corners of the pan. Lightly oil or coat a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray. Place greased-side down loosely over the pan. Let the dough rise until risen about 1 inch above the top of the pan, 50 to 60 minutes. Heat the oven about 20 minutes before the dough is ready.

  5. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Uncover the bread and bake until deep golden-brown on top (or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 200ºF), 25 to 45 minutes.

  6. Let the bread cool for 10 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing, about 1 hour.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Pumpernickel bread can be stored at room temperature in a paper or cloth bag or in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Freezing: Like most breads, pumpernickel bread freezes very well. Slice the bread and freeze slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. When slices are frozen, transfer to a large zip-top bag and store in the freezer for up to 1 month. Toast directly from frozen.