Celebrating Modern Jewish Living Through Food, Tradition, and Family
This dark, rich, chewy bread is in a class by itself. Perfect for Reubens, cold deli sandwiches, or just toast and butter (or cream cheese and lox), this Jewish standard is truly one of a kind.
The Backstory: Pumpernickel dates back centuries to German and Russian cultures. I am grateful that this is one of those recipes our ancestors brought with them when they migrated to America. At this point, I must mention my great grandparents. They lived in Poland and owned a bakery. I can imagine my Zayde loading his oven with this bread and all the goodies that he made. I wish I could have lived just for a day to be able to see him at work. Bread has followed our family down thru the ages. The only bread recipe that came over with them was for bagels. This was continued by a great uncle who owned a bagel bakery in Brooklyn, New York. My many second cousins were also involved in owning and working at this trade. My husband also learned the business and was the last one to carry on the family tradition. I gave his recipe to our son. They were the best-tasting bagels ever and were made from the recipe that was handed down through the generations. More of the Backstory after the recipe…
- 1 1/2 tbsp. dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup Kosher dark blackstrap molasses
- 4 tsp. Kosher salt
- 2 tbsp. caraway seed optional or any seeds of your choice
- 2 3/4 cups Kosher Rye flour
- 2 cups Kosher bread flour or regular flour
- 2 tbsp. Crisco shortening
In a very large bowl, add the yeast and the water. Mix until all is dissolved.. Then add the salt, molasses, shortening, seeds, and rye flour. Mix. Slowly add only 2 cups of flour. Mix and slowly add the rest of the flour. Mix. Put the dough onto a floured board and knead for 5-10 minutes. If the dough is to sticky add a little warm water. When the dough feels right, oil a large bowl and place the ball of dough in the bowl and coat the dough all over. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm place for about 45 minutes to one hour. At this point dough will double in size. Place dough on to floured board and cut in half. Take each piece and knead then shape into a round loaf. Grease a large sheet pan and place each round loaf on the pan. Make sure that you leave enough room between the loaves Cover again and leave in a warm place, this should take about 45 minutes, to an hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and bake for about 35 minutes. Remove and cool on a rack.
…The Backstory continues: But back to the present! As a bread lover, I don’t care if it’s plain old white bread, I will devour it. Yet there is something about this dark, dense bread that I can never say no to. My dad favored pumpernickel bread and I remember him adding a schmear of cream cheese and some lox, but he didn’t stop there. A thick slice of onion acted like a cover to his sandwich. My dad preferred that his breads were not sliced at the bakery. He would take a knife and cut thick slices of any of the loaves mom purchased. In our home, never was there any leftover breads. How well I remember grabbing a piece of pumpernickel bread and slathering gobs of butter over the top. There was just something so special about it.