Tuesday, November 5, 2013

TWD: Baking with Julia - Pumpernickel Loaves

Our recipe this week for Tuesday's with Dorie is Pumpernickel Loaves.  The recipe is on pages 95-98 of Baking with Julia, and can also be found here.  Though I have never made pumpernickel bread before, this recipe is a bit different in that the ingredient list includes unsweetened chocolate, espresso powder, molasses and prune butter.  Now, I must be totally honest here and admit that pumpernickel bread is not my favorite.  I like it okay, but it is never something I would choose at a deli or anything.  Honestly, I am not really a rye fan and since pumpernickel is in the rye family, it's just not my fave.  However, I gave this bread my best efforts anyway.  (to not such great results, unfortunately!!)

I actually made the dough twice.  The first time, I got all the flour in that the recipe called for and thought that it just didn't seem to fit the description that the recipe claimed.  It said the dough should be a very moist dough, very soft and elastic.  Not so much in my bowl.  I went through the first and second rise and then decided that it just was not right and pitched it right into the trash.  In the mean time, I watched the video as to how to bake this bread.  If you have ANY desire to bake this bread, I HIGHLY recommend watching this video.  The recipe gives this complicated description as to how to roll and shape the bread which makes a ton more sense after watching the video.  You can see the video here.   It is always fun to watch these clips to see Julia Child's expressions and hear her comments, so you might just want to watch it for the pure entertainment value!

When I attempted the dough for the second time, I really tried to channel Lauren Groveman (the recipe author) and imitate what I watched in the video.  I failed somewhere along the way, however.  This time I did not put in as much flour, yet still my dough was not "very moist and elastic".  She quite specifically stresses that you will need about 6 cups of flour in the dough, though the second time I only added closer to 5 cups  Still, I felt like my dough was closer to what she described when I was closer to 3 cups.  But I was hesitant to just stop there since she was so adamant on the 6 cups!  Maybe this is where I went wrong??  I don't know.  What I can say is that my bread turned out very dense, not nearly as light and puffy as they should have been.  The dough did rise well during both the first and second rise.  It did not rise much while it rested (suspended by cabinet pulls in tea-towel slings - how fun!), and then didn't rise a whole lot in the oven either. 

Please, fellow TWD bakers, help me figure out where I went wrong.  I really want to bake bread better than this!

The clever girl and I had some of the bread with breakfast - hers with a schmear of peanut butter and mine with a schmear of homemade apple butter.  Even though the bread was more dense than I prefer, it was pretty tasty!  I used less caraway seeds than the recipe called for, using only the whole seeds, none of the ground, so there was less RYE taste.  Stay tuned this week for the crock pot apple butter recipe!

Be sure to check out some of the success stories for this bread by heading to the TWD site and checking out the blogs of the other bakers! 


  1. It is a rather dense bread...and yours looks perfect to me!!!

  2. I think your loaf looks good. Anything with that much rye flour will be on the dense side.

    I only needed about 4.75 cups of the white bread flour. You should always trust your instincts with yeast bread baking, no matter what the recipe says. The humidity and temperature in your room can make a big difference in how much flour you have to use. Also, not all measuring cups are created equal. There can be an ounce or two of difference between them. It's one of the reasons that cookbook authors today are trying to get everybody to use a scale for baking.

  3. Your bread looks wonderful! Truly. It is a pretty dense bread, so it might just be the way it should. I didn't add the whole 6 cups. I had just over a cup of flour that I just couldn't knead into the dough. I think you got it right, as it looks great!

  4. Looking at the toast, I think that your loaf looks just right. I halved the recipe and ended up using all the flour the recipe called for. It might be from the flour, who knows - it's bread magic :)

  5. I didn't use all of the flour either. I probably had over a cup of flour I couldn't mix in. Your bread looks great, I think you did it all right!

  6. Yours looks very nice. Don't beat yourself up. I halved the recipe, and used 2 1/2 C of the bread flour. I also used an electric mixer. I used water and dried milk instead of the yogurt.. not sure if that made a difference...

  7. I also think your loaves turned out fine, rye can be pretty dense, and your loaves look like others I've seen in bakeries and blogs... Oh, and I like your pumpkin cheese balls! :-)

  8. It looks very tasty - I wish I had watched the video, because the shaping method in the book really threw me for a loop.


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