Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Bread for January 19

Some of you have been requesting pumpernickel, which presents a difficult problem for me. For most Americans, pumpernickel means a very dark, dense loaf, probably with rye, probably with some sweeteners, and usually with seeds or whole grains. It's a pretty good bet than any pumpernickel you have had in this country has been darkened with caramel coloring.

But true pumpernickel is a very unusual bread, and very different from what we are used to. Under German law, pumpernickel may only have three ingredients: rye, water, and salt. See anything missing? Leaven! True pumpernickel is made by scalding rye flour with boiling water and letting it stand for about 16 hours, and then adding the gelatinous mass into a loaf pan and baking at very low temperature, about 220F, for an additional 24 hours. Enzymes in the rye will convert starches to sugars and sweeten the bread, and the long slow bake will turn it nearly black (owing to a chemical reaction, not burning).

Such breads have no yeast and nothing else to leaven them.

There are a variety of breads made in this tradition other than pumpernickel, but they are rarely found in this country. I have never seen them, although I expect they are available in certain neighborhoods in New York City and Chicago.

I have been doing some experiments with this style of bake and hope to have a few available soon, but it is a time consuming and somewhat expensive endeavor to run an oven the size of mine, even at that low temperature, for 24 hours. It's not the kind of thing you want to do for fewer than 15 or 20 loaves. Can I sell that much pumpernickel?

Anyway, I won't have them ready this week. This week look for Country French and a caraway rye sandwich loaf, and possibly a few loaves without the caraway for those who prefer it. I may make a small number of buckwheat sourdough loaves (one of my favorite recipes), and possibly something with either golden raisins or cranberries, both of which I have at the moment. There is also an apple and date bread I would like to sell, but I likely won't have many so if you want one, ask for it.

I should have more cookies, and I have just enough walnuts left for a single tray of good old fashioned American brownies, if I can get to them. Also if I can get to them, more of the parmesan-sesame crackers.

See you on Thursday! Please note I will probably be leaving around 6:30 until the weather improves. If that is a problem for you, let me know.

--Erik Ryberg

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