Classic Pumpernickel Bread

Recipe by Susan Reid

Molasses and a tiny bit of cocoa powder give this bread its rich, dark color. This moist, dense-grained bread, with the texture of the popular imported pumpernickel you can buy in the gourmet food section of some stores, is perfect for slicing thinly and using as a base for canapes (chopped liver and onions or pickled herring come to mind). Spread with sweet butter, it's also a tasty accompaniment to cheese and fruit, and makes a superior sandwich. Just remember to slice it thinly; it's heavy, and a little goes a long way. Once you try this homemade pumpernickel, you'll never have to buy it at the supermarket again!

35 mins
55 mins to 1 hr 5 mins
2 hrs 30 mins
16 servings
Classic Pumpernickel Bread


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  1. Combine 1 cup of water with the cornmeal in a saucepan and cook over low heat until thick, stirring often (about 5 minutes). Remove the pan from heat and add the molasses, butter, salt, sugar, caraway seeds and cocoa powder. Stir to combine and set aside to cool to lukewarm.

  2. Put the remaining 1/2 cup water in a large mixing bowl and add the yeast. If using active dry, stir and let the mixture "proof" for 10 minutes. If using instant, no waiting time is necessary.

  3. Add the molasses mixture and mashed potatoes.

  4. Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Stir in the pumpernickel and whole wheat flour. Mix and knead the dough at medium speed for 10 minutes.

  5. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl. Sprinkle the top with flour. Cover the bowl and let rise until the dough is not quite doubled; about 1 hour.

  6. When the dough is risen, it will have expanded and you'll see cracks in the flour you sprinkled.

  7. Shape the dough into a loaf and place in a greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with more flour or brush with a mixture of 1 egg white beaten with a tablespoon of water.

  8. Slash the top in a decorative design, and bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 55 to 65 minutes, until the center measures 200°F when measured with an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the oven, tip out of the pan, and cool on a rack completely before slicing.

  9. Store at room temperature, well wrapped, for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • You can mix this dough in a bread machine, but be aware you'll need to scrape the corners and sides of the bread machine's pan; the dough is very thick and doesn't move around a lot once it starts to come together. Just give it a little help with a rubber spatula from time to time, and the dough will be fine.
  • When made correctly, this is a very sticky dough. Grease or flour your hands very well before trying to work with it.