Flying Dark Pumpernickel

I’ve often made the dark pumpernickel bread from Donna Rathmell German’s excellent The Bread Machine Cookbook. It’s good, but not as good as the pumpernickel from When Pigs Fly Bakery. And I think I’ve figured out the difference. I tweaked Donna’s recipe a little and then added some fennel seeds for the special flavor I was looking

I rarely bake bread in my bread machine. I just use it to knead the dough. Then I form it into dinner rolls, let them rise and bake. This way you can have fresh backed bread from scratch on the table in under two hours.

Yields: 12 generous dinner rolls or one large loaf

1 tbs. yeast
3 cups whole wheat flour (e.g. King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat)
1 tbs. caraway seeds
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 1/3 tsp. salt (we always use sea salt when available)
1 ½ tsp. instant coffee granules
1 1/3 tbs. brown sugar
2 tbs. unsweetened cocoa
3 tbs. vegetable oil
4 tbs. molasses
1 1/3 cups water

Here a couple of other tricks that make the process easier:

  • If you measure the oil in the measuring spoon just before you measure out the molasses, the molasses doesn’t stick to the spoon.
  • When the bread machine firsts starts kneading the dough, you have to watch it and adjust the amount of water (or flour) to get the proper texture for the dough. Make sure it sticks together as a nice round “ball”. If you can still see pieces, add water; if it sticks to the sides, add flour.
  • To make rolls, when you take the dough out, put it on a cutting board that has been dusted with some cornmeal, cut the dough in half and roll each half into a “log” on a cut. Each log will make six rolls, so slice the log in half, then slice each half in thirds. Now for the best part, to form the rolls, simply “pinch” one of the cut sides together. Since they should be a little wet, they will stick together like magic. The other cut side makes a lovely pattern when they rise.
  • Let the rolls rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes before baking. I usually put them on the stovetop while the oven is preheating. In a pinch, you can just form them and shove them in the oven. They’ll be fine!
  • I usually preheat the oven with a baking stone in it at about 25-50 degrees hotter than needed. (E.g. I heat the oven to 425 if I plan to bake at 375.) Once I put the rolls in, I turn the oven down to the desired temperature. I believe this gives the bottom of the rolls a nice crust and doesn’t cause the oven element to come back on right away for nice even cooking afterwards. I usually bake the rolls on the top shelf for 15 to 20 minutes (depending on how hungry I am and how good they smell).