I’m eating a massive slice of this bread right now (as toast, duh) and it is glorious.
I never used to be a morning person. But I was never really a night person, either. And I actually hate that afternoon hour between 4 and 5 p.m. (it just always drags on and on and there’s not even anything good on TV to make it go by faster, you know?). Really, I’m a mid-morning person. The hours between 9 a.m. and noon are my peak hours. I’m like a machine. I get all the things done during this time. I’m super productive. I’d like to thank the toast for this bout of energy.
But then lunchtime rolls around and all I can think about is food, and then once I eat said food all I can think about is taking a nap, and sometimes this may or may not be possible (I’ve tried in all too many inappropriate/inconvenient locations including my car, the back of a classroom, a folding chair, the kitchen table, a hardwood floor, etc. etc.). If I do end up taking a nap, all hope of more productivity is lost because I probably slept too long. Hard knock life, y’all.
ANYWAY, all this to say, in my increasing age I’ve become more of a morning person. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I love being the first one awake in my household (well, besides my cat who has already tried no less than three times to wake me up by incessantly sniffing my face, weirdo), turning on the coffeemaker, checking my e-mails and the Twitter while the coffeemaker makes all its rumbles and pops and trickles, pouring and then guzzling said coffee while watching the sun come up. And of course, the promise of toast. Especially when homemade pumpernickel bread is involved.
Pumpernickel bread is special to me for many reasons. One, it reminds me of growing up in a German family — that is to say, my grandparents came straight from the Motherland and brought with them their love of traditional foods, one of which is pumpernickel. One and a half (because it’s slightly related), it’s my mom’s go-to choice for her daily breakfast toast (fruit doesn’t fall far, obvs) and it was my grandfather’s favorite bread, too. And two, it’s incredibly easy to make and produces delicious — you guessed it — toast (and deli sandwiches and grilled cheese and savory bread pudding and and and…).
This particular recipe won over my heart because it not only incorporates toasted walnuts and raisins into the batter for added texture and flavor, it also only requires one rise and that rise takes, oh, a half-hour. This is a MAJOR WIN, people. Bread bakers and non-bread bakers (and lazy people like me!) alike can appreciate this shortcut.
Oh, and as a minor segue, I made a video to show you the difference between instant and active dry yeast (either of which can be used in this recipe — double win!) (P.S. apologies for the horrible lighting/resolution in the video… working on/wishing for technological upgrades):
So basically what you should take away from all this rambling is the following: I’m a morning person now and it’s weird; I’m still a diehard toast fanatic; there is a difference between instant and active dry yeast; go forth and make pumpernickel bread.
- 1¾ cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees F)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons instant coffee or espresso powder
- ¼ cup molasses
- 4½ cups bread flour, divided
- 1 cup dark rye flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup toasted chopped walnuts
- ¾ cup raisins
- 1 egg white
- 3 tablespoons water
- Heat oven to 200 degrees F.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, sugar and yeast. Stir until yeast dissolves. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes until foamy.
- Add instant coffee, molasses, 4 cups bread flour, rye flour, salt, walnuts and raisins to the bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon or dough hook attachment on low speed until just combined.
- Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 10 to 15 minutes, adding remaining bread flour if necessary to develop a smooth, elastic and slightly sticky dough OR knead with dough hook attachment on medium speed 5 minutes, adding remaining bread flour if necessary to develop a smooth, elastic and slightly sticky dough.
- Shape dough into a 9-by-5-inch oval and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel. Turn off oven and place baking sheet on center rack. Let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
- Remove bread from oven and heat oven to 375 degrees F. Whisk together egg white and water; brush loaf with egg wash. Use a serrated knife to cut three ¼-inch-deep slits in the top of the loaf.
- Bake bread 35 to 40 minutes until deep brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 200 degrees F in the center of the loaf. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.