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Pumpernickel Loaves



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Pumpernickel Loaves

Baking with Julia 

Contributing Baker Nancy Silverton
by Dorie Greenspan, based on the PBS Series
hosted by Julia Child, 1996, William Morrow and Co.

Makes 2 large oval loaves

“These oversize loaves are dark and sweet with the resilient texture of the best rye breads. Pumpernickel is, in fact, a member of the rye bread family, part of the German grainy black bread clan, but its chocolaty color and haunting sweetness make it seem like a very distant relation.
This bread delivers traditional taste using some untraditional ingredients – you probably won’t be able to pick out the individual flavors, but it’s the combination
of espresso powder, chocolate, molasses, and lekvar (prune butter) that produces
the beautifully browned crust and chocolate-colored crumb, and that haunting sweetness. The shaping method is also untraditional, but it’s what gives you oversize, incitingly plump loaves, the kind you find lined up at the counter of an authentic old-fashioned delicatessen. The slice is large, made for sandwiches.
The bread is very good with any kind of cream cheese spread…
A note of caution to the less athletically inclined: Mixing and kneading this
dough by hand replaces and hour at the gym pumping iron. However, the dough
can be made in a heavy-duty mixer.”

1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon instant espresso
2 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate,
coarsely chopped
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
1 stick (4 ounces) [1/2 cup] unsalted butter,
cut into small cubes
5 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
2 cups plain yogurt, at room temperature
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup prune lekvar* (also sold as prune butter
in specialty markets and some supermarkets)
2 tablespoons ground caraway seeds (grind
whole seeds in a spice or coffee grinder)
1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 tablespoon salt
3 1/2 cups coarse rye meal or medium rye flour
6 cups (approximately) high-gluten flour, bread flour,
or unbleached all-purpose flour
Melted butter, for greasing the missing bowl

* Prune Lekvar: Put 3 cups (packed) pitted prunes in a medium saucepan, cover with water, and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the prunes
are very soft, about 10 minutes; drain, reserving 1 tablespoon of the liquid.
Place the prunes and liquid, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, and 1/3 cup sugar
in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process
until pured. Scrape the prune butter into a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup very finely
chopped walnuts. Packed in a tightly sealed jar, the prune butter will keep in
the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks. Makes about 1 cup.

Brush a large (about 8-quart) bowl with melted butter; set aside.

Mixing and Kneading
Put the boiling water and espresso powder into a small heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir to dissolve espresso. Add the chocolate, molasses, and butter and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter and chocolate melt. Pour the mixture into another large (about 8-quart) bowl.
Meanwhile, whisk the yeast and pinch of sugar into the warm water; let
rest until creamy, about 5 minutes.
Using a wooden spoon, stir the yogurt, shortening, lekvar, caraway seeds, and salt into the butter-chocolate mixture. When the ingredients are well blended and the mixture is just warm to the touch (no hotter than 110
degrees F), stir in the yeast and the rye meal. Using lots of elbow grease,
stir in enough of the high-gluten flour, 1/2 cup to 1 cup at a time, to make
a very moist dough. (You’ll probably use almost 6 cups of flour.)
When it is too difficult to stir the dough, turn it out onto a work surface
well dusted with high gluten flour and knead until smooth and elastic but
still soft and moist, about 10 minutes. The dough may seem a little pasty
at first – because of the rye meal – but its texture will change with energetic
kneading. While you’re working, add only as much additional flour as you
need to keep the dough from sticking to the table and your hands.
(You can make this dough in a heavy-duty mixer fitted with a dough hook. Once the yeast and rye meal have been added to the other ingredients, mix
on low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, for about 2 minutes. Add about 5 cups of the high-gluten flour, 1 cup at a time, and beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and beat in as much additional flour as needed to make a soft dough that will clean the sides of the bowl, then beat for about 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.)

First Rise
Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to the buttered bowl. Cover the bowl with buttered plastic wrap and top with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until it has doubled in volume.

Second Rise
When the dough is fully risen, deflate it, turn it over, cover as before, and
let it rise for about 1 hour, or until it doubles in bulk again.

Rolling and shaping
Deflate the dough, transfer it to a lightly floured work surface, and divide it in half. Work with one piece of dough and keep the other covered with a towel or plastic wrap. Lay 2 clean kitchen towels on the counter and sprinkle them with flour; keep close at hand.
On a lightly floured surface, pat the dough into a rectangle about 8 inches by 14 inches. Starting at the short end farthest from you, roll the dough into a tight roll, pinching and sealing the seams you form with each roll as you go. Stand the roll on end and push your fingers down into the loaf, tucking some of the dough into the loaf as you burrow your fingers down into it. Then squeeze the end of the dough to elongate it, pinch it to seal, and fold each corner into the center, creating two triangles – it’s like making hospital corners on a bed. Tuck the end under the bread, attaching it to the bottom seam, and repeat the borrowing, squeezing, folding, and tucking with the other end of the coil. Rotate and plump the dough to get a nicely shaped, rounded oval. Place the loaf, seam side up, diagonally on one of the floured kitchen towels and form a sling by joining the opposite corners of the towel, slip an S-hook through the hole, and suspend the sling from a cupboard or door knob (or tie the ends of the towel together to form a sling and suspend it). Shape the second piece of dough in the same manner and tuck it into
a sling.

The loaves should rest undisturbed in their slings for 40 minutes.

The Topping and Glaze
Sesame and/or caraway seeds )optional
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon cold water

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. If the loaves are to bake on a baking or pizza stone, preheat the stone too and generously dust a peel with cornmeal. Of they will bake on baking sheets, brush or spray one or two large, preferably dark steel, baking sheets with vegetable oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. For added flavor, use some sesame and/or caraway sees in combination with the cornmeal to dust the peel or sheets. (To create steam in the oven, you’ll be tossing ice cubes and water onto the oven floor. If you don’t think your oven floor is up to this – it can be tricky with a gas oven – put a heavy skillet or roasting pan on the oven floor and preheat it as well.)
Whisk the egg white and water together and push the mixture through a sieve; reserve.
Release the slings and transfer the loaves, smooth side up, to the prepared peel or baking sheet(s), keeping the loaves at least 3 inches apart. These loaves are very big and unusually soft, so handle them carefully. Give the loaves a last plumping with your hands and using a sharp serrated knife or a single-edge razor blade, slash the top of each loaf 3 times: The slashes should run horizontally across the loaf at a slight angle and should be about 1 inch deep. Paint each loaf with a generous coating of glaze, taking care not to paint the slashes. Sprinkle the loaves with caraway and/or sesame seeds, if you’re using them.

Baking the bread
Put 4 ice cubes in a 1-pint measuring cup and add 1/4 cup cold water. Put the loaves into the oven, immediately toss the ice cubes and water onto the oven floor (or into the pan), and quickly close the oven door to trap the steam produced by the ice. Bake the loaves for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 35 to 40 minutes more, or until the loaves are deeply browned and the bottoms produce a hollow sound when rapped. (The internal temperature of the loaves should measure 200 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.) Remove the loaves and cool on a rack. The loaves must cool completely before they can be cut, so plan to wait 2 to 3 hours after baking.

You can keep the bread in plastic bags at room temperature for 2 days or wrap the loaves airtight and freeze them for up to 1 month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.

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