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PING Egret, Fidel, all bakers: Bad Pumpernickel

Charleston DaveCharleston Dave Posts: 571
edited 4:42PM in EggHead Forum
I recently got a new gadget for my KitchenAid (a BeaterBlade, replaces the flat blade with a silicone-edged one that is supposed to scrape the bowl). Naturally, I had to try it out and so decided to make Egret's pumpernickel bread.

I followed Egret's recipe exactly except that I could not find pumpernickel flour and used his recommended substitute of rye with oat bran (specifically, Hodgson Mill stone ground organic rye flour and their 100% oat bran hot cereal). I did not add any gluten nor do a crust wash.

The BeaterBlade works pretty well, but the bread was disappointing: tough, dense and chewy with poor crumb. There were clear strata in the final cut slices. :(

It did have good flavor and the rising dough smelled so good that I want to fix what went wrong. I certainly did not get a loaf looking anywhere near as nice as Fidel's gorgeous results.

I'd like to make this work. I'm used to making pumpernickel with rye and cocoa, but this dough smelled great from the onion powder and fennel in the mix. The bread has no smoke flavor (I stabilized temp at 400ºF with a Guru for 45 minutes before putting the dough on) so I'm wondering what I gain from doing it on the Egg.

(1) maybe pumpernickel flour is really essential for this (where to buy?)
(2) use all rye instead of the 2/3 rye plus 1/3 oat bran option.
(3) use some other kind of oat bran
(4) need to adjust my punchdown/kneading technique somehow, especially with 2nd knead?
(5) need to borrow Egret's boa for baking to turn out right :ohmy: (I'm hoping it's not this one! :silly: )

Here's how it went down:
Initial dry ingredients (rye flour, oat bran, sugar, salt, cocoa, dried onion, instant coffee, carraway, fennel, yeast) mixed in bowl:

Initial mix with BeaterBlade incorporating warm water, oil, molasses and vinegar:

Switching to dough hook, then after three cups bread flour added:

After first 1 minute hand knead:

After first rise:

After second rise:
(I'm thinking something went wrong here-was hard to shape at this point)

Egg rigged with platesetter legs down, ceramic feet, and pizza plate, preheated to 400ºF, stabilized with Guru, and with parchment underneath dough for first 10 minutes of cook:

I thought it was done after 30 minutes, but when I removed it and cut a slice it was doughy and heavy, so I put it back for another 10 minutes.

The final results (poor texture, intriguing flavor nevertheless):

Oh, Gurus of Pumpernickel, what say ye?


  • Little ChefLittle Chef Posts: 4,725
    Hi Dave! A valiant effort! Sorry the results weren't as desired! I had virtually the identical failure a couple years ago.
    You definately need to borrow the boa!! Egret should have told you it is mandatory for success when making an Egret recipe!! :woohoo: :silly: :laugh: ;)
    Here's my two cents.... The Rye flour forms absolutely ZERO in glutens. There's nothing wrong with using the rye flour, but since it forms no glutens, it is absolutely imperative to use a high gluten flour to make up for it. All purpose flour is certainly not going to make up for it, hence, the "brick". No glutens=no rise.
    Have you checked Whole Foods for the Pump flour? I've had trouble finding it as well.
    So, just my two cents! Hopefully the guys will chime in and give you more input!
    Happy Eggin! And great post!
  • Hey, LC, tnx for the comments, thoughtful as always!

    First, I had a misstatement (now corrected) in the original post, I did use bread flour and not AP for the dough hook step.

    I keep gluten in the frig and typically add some to my oven-baked bread recipes. I agree, from the appearance of the "brick" it looks like that might have been helpful. Everything seemed to collapse under its own weight during the second rise, as if the yeast just gave up and cried out, "No mas!"

    Is pumpernickel flour really that much harder (higher gluten) than the rye+oat combo? Is there some standard measurement technique for flour hardness, with tables that give the relevant statistics for different flours?

    I looked at Whole Foods and didn't find pumpernickel flour, so went with Egret's recommended substitute. From the wording in Fidel's post, it seems that he was using pumpernickel, but I'm not certain. His loaves looked spectacular, maybe mine were just intimidated. :P

    And if I'm going with the boa, it has to be blue to match my eyes!
  • EmandM'sDadEmandM'sDad Posts: 648
    typically the measure is protein content. Softer flours are down around 8-9%, with bread and high gluten flours in the 13-14.5% range.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    sorry to hear it dave. but somehow reassured by the fact that you appear to be human too.

    (tongue in cheek)

    better luck next time
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • FidelFidel Posts: 10,172
    I used pumpernickel flour in the loaf in my post and it was terrific.

    From looking at your first rise photo I think your problem was either bad yeast, poorly activated yeast, and/or possibly a measurement miscalculation somewhere. The dough does not look near wet enough after the first kneading. Maybe the substitution for the pumpernickel calls for an adjustment in the wet ingredients. After the first knead mine was very soft and supple.

    Mine also rose a great deal more than yours in the first rise - probably closer to tripling in size - which would account for the less dense crumb of my loaf as well. Maybe better yeast or a longer rise period would have helped your loaf.

    Finally, mine was very cooperative for the final shaping. A quick bench roll and it formed a nice tight dough ball with a tight skin.

    I highly recommend you try it again making a few adjustments - the final result is certainly worth it. It is a terrific load of bread.
  • hmm....really helpful comments, Fidel, thanks.

    Considering these in order...

    Yeast was the end of a bottle, but it was within expiration and I'd used it the week before with good results making waffles. The first-rise photo's a little deceptive, as it's within a big bowl. The rise looked like a doubling to me at the time. It was resting at room temperature, about 72ºF.

    Measurement? Always a possibility, I will double-check next time.

    Dough wetness was low, I agree. I used all 3C of bread flour, at the high end of the range given in the recipe.

    Thanks for the tips, Fidel. I agree, this is worth figuring out.
  • I'll take that on faith, Stike, and not hold out for supporting test data. ;)
  • Thanks, excellent resource!

    I've used King Arthur products. They are definitely a great supplier and I appreciate them as an educational resource as well.

    I wish my cooking were well enough planned that I internet-ordered ingredients a week in advance. :blush: I tend to have a what's-in-the-market-now, what-am-I-making-for-dinner-tonight mindset, which is probably antithetical to baking from the well-established pantry. I hate having flour go mealy on me so I don't stock a lot. The local stores, including Whole Foods, stock rye flour but no pumpernickel so I'll have to plan further ahead.
  • Thanks! At least I know now what the units of measurement are! :whistle:
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    actually, the probability that you are actually fallible in the kitchen is still very low, even when taking this one episode into consideration. :)
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • That dough looks way, way too dry (esp for a rye loaf). Use half as much bread flour (or more water). Rye loaves traditionally rise in a brotform, which gives the loaf support so that it doesn't spread out or deflate under its own weight (a heavily floured towel lining a big bowl works okay as a rising form). Get a copy of Dan Leader's "Local Breads"--it has a wealth of info on regional rye styles.
  • mattrappmattrapp Posts: 107
    One thing to keep in mind is that rye flour absorbs water very differently than other flours. You want your final dough to be fairly wet, this will give you a lighter texture. You'll see as your dough sits it will start to look a bit firmer. Rye is always slighlty more difficult to work with, but after a couple of trys you'll get the hang of it. With a denser bread you may want to add a bit more yeast to help with the texture also. If you are going to be making hearth loafs without a pan or bread form, you need to shape the dough for the final loaf so it will hold it's shape in the oven. Otherwise it will have a tendency to spread as opposed to puff up.
  • bitslammerbitslammer Posts: 818
    "Bad Pumpernickel" Sounds like a name from a60's/70's rock band.
  • FSUScotsmanFSUScotsman Posts: 754
    I buy my yeast two pounds at a time at Sam's, but I keep it in the freezer. I've never worried about expiration dates.

    I use a bread machine for everything but baking now, even thought I have a Kitchen Aide mixer. It's just a lot more efficient at the process and lets me know when it's done. I can be doing other getting the Egg ready.
  • Wow, another kitchen gadget I gotta have! I'd seen brotform baskets before but didn't associate them with rye.

    Thanks for the suggestions, Celeste. :)
  • Thanks for the tips, Mattrap. It's pretty clear that this dough was too heavy. I will aim for a wetter version next time; I did not know there was so much difference between flours. I put the max amount of bread flour in and I'm sure that aggravated the issue.
  • They changed formats to German neopunk and now call themselves "Brotform."
  • I can relate, Scotsman! My bread machine makes really tasty pumpernickel, using rye flour and cocoa.

    Part of the reason I wanted to try this recipe is that I wondered if using the Egg was worth the extra effort. Would I get a flavor boost from the charcoal?

    At this point, that question remains to be answered. Maybe I need to add a small amount of smokewood if I want extra flavor. I really couldn't taste any charcoal effect.

    I think I may try to fix my prep problems first using the indoor kitchen before adding the investment in time and energy of Egg cooking vs. the electric range.
  • For archival purposes, I'm posting Egret's emailed advice, sent to me 7/9/2009:

    My first impression is your yeast may not be as active as you need
    with this dough. It is a very tough dough when mixed properly and needs
    all the help (yeast) it can get. I use the Red Star brand which you can
    find at Costco, among others. Also, it looks like yours was a little on
    the dry side, which results from too much flour in the mix. Try making
    it the next time with the finished dough being a little on the "sticky"
    side. You can always add a little flour at the end when forming the
    loaf so it isn't overly sticky and is more easily workable. I get
    pretty equal results when using either the pumpernickel flour or the
    rye and oat or wheat bran combination. I wouldn't go buy pumpernickel
    flour thinking this was going to solve your problem. I also sometimes
    use Vital Wheat Gluten in the mix per the package suggestions.
    Try doing the next loaf in your oven and make it a little on the
    sticky side.......

    Thanks, John!
  • Thanks to all who provided suggestions. Here is a summary of the advice given:

    [ul](1) Rye flour is soft and high-gluten supplementation is needed
    (2) Pumpernickel flour can be ordered from King Arthur
    (3) Flour "hardness" corresponds to percentage protein content, typically ranging 8-14%
    (4) The yeast might have been too old and feeble
    (5) I might have measured incorrectly
    (6) Dough looks too dry in first kneading
    (7) Substitution of flours might require adjustment of wet ingredients
    (8) More rise time might have helped
    (9) Dough too dry, use half as much bread flour, or more water
    (10) Use a brotform for rising, or a heavily floured towel in a big bowl
    (11) Dough needs to be wetter, and needs more yeast
    (12) Bulk yeast is fine, just keep it in the freezer
    (13) Yeast wasn't active enough
    (14) Dough was too dry (too much flour); can add more at end if too sticky
    (15) No changes needed betwen pumpernickel and rye/oat or rye/wheat bran; buying pumpernickel flour won't fix problem
    (16) Add vital wheat gluten

    Wow, what a list of ideas!

    Thanks to everybody, and I will post results from my next try. :)
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