Pumpernickel Sourdough Recipe

Polish sourdough bread oven spring in La Cloche

Polish sourdough bread oven spring in La Cloche

Pumpernickel rye is coarsely ground rye berries with the reputation, first, of being difficult to work with and second, of producing a rye flavor well worth the effort.  This recipe, with the Polish culture, takes the work out of the process and totally confirms the result, fabulous rye flavor.  In theory rye flours have little or no gluten so rise poorly unless assisted by commercial yeast or mixed with a surplus of flour with good gluten.  Since this is sourdough, commercial yeast is not an option.  This recipe offers home bakers the option of choosing the ratio of flour to pumpernickel depending on the desired result.

Recipe for 50% pumpernickel, 50% all-purpose flour
1 cup active Polish culture
230 grams unbleached all-purpose flour.
230 grams pumpernickel rye
1 cup water
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1½ teaspoons salt
  • Mix well all ingredients together by hand or machine (I prefer the latter).  This produces a moderately dry mixture.
  • Proof overnight at room temperature, 65-70oF, 10-12 hours in machine pan or bowl.
  • Transfer to well-floured board, rest briefly (15-30 minutes).
  • Knead briefly, form a ball or batard and place in baking container or on baking sheet.
  • Proof 1½ to 3 hours at room temperature or in proofing box at 80-85oF.  Leavening will be slight.
  • Place in cool oven, set oven to 375oF, turn on and bake for 70 minutes.  Oven spring will be negligible.
  • Cool on wire racks.

Note: This loaf will be quite firm and have the most sour, intense rye flavor you have ever experienced.  This is not a chemical taste but an oddly exciting one difficult to describe.  The recipe is identical except for the flour percentage: 35% pumpernickel/65% all-purpose or 25%/75% with corresponding changes in consistency and leavening.  In the 25%/75% loaf there is also excellent oven spring.  In all three recipes the rye flavor continues to be exceptional.


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