Pumpernickel for Grace

Grace asked if I had any recipes for pumpernickel bread, and, as I am the proud owner of The Fannie Farmer Baking Book – edited by The Marion Cunningham, circa 1984, and dedicated to James Beard – the answer was, of course, “I have two!” But one of them contains “instant grain beverage,” which is kind of annoying since I don’t know what that is. Beer? That’s all I can think of. So, here’s the better recipe! In blog-form, which means forever!

I’ve never actually made this recipe, but if Grace makes it, the result will be beyond excellent, and more than worthy of The Marion Cunningham’s Glorious Praise.

Pumpernickel Bread

(makes two free-form round loaves)

This bread is described as “A good pumpernickel with a thick crust and a fine, moist crumb.” The recipe comes from page 476 of The Fannie Farmer Baking Book (1984). BTW, if you don’t own this book, it’s pretty comprehensive and well worth buying – you’ll get a ton of really great recipes out of it, the kind you’ll use over and over again.

  • 2 1/2 cups potato-cooking water
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup dark molasses
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1 cup mashed potato
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 3 cups rye flour
  • 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. caraway seeds


  • 1 egg yolk, mixed with two tablespoons of water.

Bring the potato water to a boil. In a large mixing bowl, stir together 1/2 cup of the cornmeal, the molasses, brown sugar, and the butter. Pour the boiling potato water over all and stir until well blended. Let stand until comfortably warm when you plunge your finger deep into the mixture.

Sprinkle the yeast over the potato mixture, and let stand until dissolved and fluffy. Beat in the mashed potato, salt, rye flour, two cups of the all-purpose flour, and the caraway seeds. Add enough all-purpose flour to make a manageable dough, then turn out on to a lightly-floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Let rest for ten minutes.

Resume kneading for about ten minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic, sprinkling enough all-purpose flour to keep the dough from becoming too sticky. Transfer the dough to a large greased bowl, cover with greased plastic wrap, and let rise until the dough has doubled in bulk.

Punch the dough down and shape into two round loaves. Sprinkle a baking sheet with the remaining two tablespoons of cornmeal, and place the loaves on it with a few inches space between them. Cover loosely (greased plastic), and let rise again, until double in bulk again. Brush the tops of the risen loaves with the egg-yolk glaze. Bake in a a preheated 375°F oven for 30 minutes, brush again with the glaze, and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet, and let the loaves cool on racks. Invite your friend Emily over for drinks and fresh-baked bread with butter.

So … call me?