When I was a kid, my mom would buy a dense grainy moist sour bread. It was sliced so much thinner than any other bread… it was always a little more pricey. The name of the bread was Pumpernickle . I remember thinking: “Wow this is really bread and i love saying this word.
I usually had to fish a slice out of the toaster because the slots were so wide. I had to keep watch in order not to let it disintegrate into a burnt cracker. BUT.. the flavor!!! sweet and sour with a hint of some caraway.. my first introduction to the flavor of rye flour.
This rye loaf I have chosen to bring you for april comes from the man who is pictured above: Ephraim Doner; He was a dear neighbor and friend who passed away in 1993. He was born in Poland , came to USA in 1924 and eventually settled in Carmel Highlands with his wife Rosa. He was an extraordinary painter, tile maker, natural born storyteller and self taught extraordinary cook and bread baker. Doner was always just plain “don” to me. I would walk down the road to get to his house ducking thru a neighbors yard with horses and a goat(I think) then scramble under some more bushes where upon this sweet house appeared thru a canopy of trees. Don would usually see me before I saw him and would signal me to come in.. The house smelled of wood fires, something yummy from the oven.. there would be a bottle of wine on the large living room table. I was intimidated by Don. He seemed to be talking non stop in a thick accent I strained to understand and his arms were raised up high as if he was perpetually toasting the fact that I had arrived and it was the highlight of his day.. I can remember somewhere during the conversation he would stop, lean down close to me, put his hand on my shoulder and say something like: “Fuck em if they cannot take a joke ” or.. “if they give take.. if they take yell.” and then just as quickly start moving again and calling for his wife Rosa to say “guess who is here.. why don’t you come out.. where are those cookies that you baked..and then he would turn to poke at the fire, take a sip of something and disappear.. This doner Pumpernickle bread recipe is scrumptious. It has orange rind, buttermilk and molasses and the recipe as transcribed by his daughter Tasha (and one of the best people on the planet) says to ” beat vigorously for 200 strokes” and also to let bread rise “avoiding any cold drafts.” Tasha tasted it and said: “It tastes just like my fathers.” and that is all y”all knead’ to know.
(one of doners doodles)