You know that feeling when you have imagined something to taste a certain way and you keep working on a recipe to see how you can get it? Well tonite I achieved that “it” factor with Pumpernickle bread and it has to do with so many unknowns that came together.. and the only way you get there is by keeping on experimenting till you chance upon the bread you have been wanting to taste! I think you can say this about the creative process in general..
I have been in love with Pumpernickle bread all my life.. It is one of the reasons I started this bread baking deal in the first place.. It is the rich flavor of rye.. the rye that goes so well the dill pickles and mustard and kraut and sausage and spiciness and tartness in one.. The flavor you cannot hardly get anymore unless you know an old Polish or Yugoslavian or German or Urkanian who still bakes it. Well I did grow up with one and I wrote about him on my bread blog before. His name was Ephraim Doner.. So in his recipe, he adds buttermilk and orange rind to the rye starter and fennel and caraway seed.. The bread turns out terrific.. but not amazing.. So here are the changes I made to make it the bread I was longing to taste.. First.. I used less rye starter to begin with and I added more water along with the buttermilk.. Second.. I had happened to go to acme coffee and I was given a taste of the most amazing dessert Tiramisu made with excellent expresso beans from Acme.. I began to think about this flavor in rye.. the unmistakeable wonder of coffee flavor… I then thought about this thing I read about called altus which means leftover bread.. What would happen if I soaked bread in coffee and let it sit for an hour.. Why not?
Then, to the rye starter I added this mushy bread-soaked-in-coffee, buttermilk, brown sugar, molasses, rye and white and wheat flours and let it sit till it just held its shape.. after 20 minutes I added salt.. this is better to do after so the gluten can have a chance to start building its strands of doughy goodness. (salt slows it down) then I stretchand folded this dough and let it sit for 8 hours at about 68 temp.. then shaped the loaves into what I call “torpedos” the french came up with this word called Batard.. when they had risen again. I brushed them with an egg yolk glaze (yolk and water) then did my favorite part of the whole process: THE SCORE.. the pretty decoration on top which allows the bread to “open up” and make its own decoration depending on how you choose to use a razor blade cutting thru the skin of the dough.. (but that is another story..
After 40 minutes.. I achieved Pumpernickle but it is really 4 years in the making… and it will be the bread you all will be getting in December.–
The journey is just as great as the destination.. Onward.