Saturday, January 10, 2015

Redemption of a fallen pumpernickel

I love pumpernickel bread, although I didn't know that until I started baking it for myself, using Zojirushi's recipe.

A big, delicious loaf of Zo pumpernickel

I'm not crazy about caraway seeds, but since my honey is, I decided to try a recipe in The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook (which I'll just call Hensperger, after its author). It's called Bohemian black bread (BBB), and it's a pumpernickel with fennel and caraway.

At first, the bread was a flop. Neither of us liked the flavor much, plus the bread fell! I've never had this problem before, despite all my messing around with the amount of yeast and salt. The bread is perfectly light, so I assume the problem was too much yeast for the amount of salt.

A fallen loaf of Bohemian black bread

The second day, however, both of us really liked the bread. (The recipe had said it was better the second day. Maybe it's because the fennel mellows.) We tried the bread various ways—with olive oil and mustard, plain with a slice of ham, topped with tuna fish salad, toasted with peanut butter and jam—and the combinations were delicious! For some reason, this bread was also easier to slice than the others I've made, so I could eat thinner slices.

Thin slices of the BBB

Since I've successfully cooked Zo's pumpernickel every time I've tried, here are some notes comparing the recipes (or, to be precise, my interpretation of the recipes). I cooked both breads using the delay timer and the whole wheat setting.

Things that are similar:
  • The liquid: both use water (though Zo uses a bit less)
  • The sweetener: both use molasses (though Zo uses more)
  • The coloring: both use cocoa and coffee (though BBB uses more cocoa)
  • The main flours: both use about 2 cups of bread flour, and about a cup of rye flour
  • Salt: both call for 2 teaspoons, though I used just a pinch for the Zo and maybe 3/4 t for the BBB
Things that are different:
  • The fat: Zo uses oil; BBB uses butter (and twice as much, by volume)
  • Other flours: Zo uses some whole wheat flour plus a bit of cornmeal; BBB just uses a bit of wheat bran
  • Gluten: Zo uses almost 3 times as much
  • Seeds: Zo uses none; BBB uses some caraway (though less than in the book's Scandinavian light rye recipe) and a bit of fennel
  • Yeast: Zo calls for 2 tsp (I used 1 heaping tsp); BBB calls for 1 T (I used 2 scant tsp)
Other things that might have made a difference:
  • I used dark rye for BBB instead of the rye flour I usually use
  • I used black cocoa for BBB instead of the regular dutch process I usually use
I might make the recipe again. It's not the best standalone bread, but (on the second day, at least) it combines really well with other flavors. If I make it again, I'll try lowering the yeast to 1 heaping tsp. Or I might just make the Zo recipe, but add caraway.

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