Bake It ‘Till You Make It

by | Feb 22, 2022 | Articles

I am on my second sourdough starter and my fifth (5th) attempt at pumpernickel bread. Breadmaking is no joke. I have a whole new level of respect for those who do it and do it well. I decided to start with pumpernickel because it is an unfamiliar bread to me. I have seen it many times while shopping (and am quite fascinated with the deep dark colors) but was never aware of how it came to be. Pumpernickel has been described as an “unleavened dark bread” a moniker I take issue with considering that I have been using different types of yeast to get the rise I need to make the bread less dense. (And all yeast is not created equal… you can get “bad” yeast from the store and it will completely affect your results). Next, as I mentioned in my previous post, while you can (and probably should) make pumpernickel with rye flour… you do not have to. I have used a combination of wheat and all-purpose flour with mixed results (see what I did there? =). Because rye flour is not easy to find, I am working with alternative recipes to see what will yield the best results for my purpose (which is to get to the easiest and tastiest recipe for Penelope’s signature bread). To give you some background into the origin of the word pumpernickel, I read an interesting story involving Napolean and his horse (which turned out to be completely false) although the actual origin is somewhat surprising. The first part of the word “pumpern” is an old German word for “fart” or “breaking wind,” the last part “nickel” comes from the name Nikolaous or ‘Old Nick,” a euphemistic name for a demon, goblin, etc. So roughly translated one could guess that “devil’s fart” is what it means in German? Some believe the name pumpernickel may have come from the bread’s tendency to cause flatulence due to its high fiber content, I can tell you that for me it has only given me heartburn (and that is due to the five (5) failed attempts.

Going to try my sixth attempt at pumpernickel tonight, and feed my sourdough starter (day 2). I will keep you posted!!


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