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Friday, December 24, 2010

Variation of HBin5's Bavarian Pumpernickel

Pseudo-Bavarian Pumpernickel

These are dangerous times.  This morning I realized I had no bread to take to work with me, when I work nights over the holidays: Christmas eve and Christmas night (Like all nurses, I take my turn at working holidays).  I wouldn't have time to bake on those days, between sleeping and family visits.  I was going to be exhausted, with no bread.

So I had to make some bread on the 23rd.  The bread I made on the 22nd -- a playful, experimental loaf and a 123 loaf that utterly failed --- is inedible. 

But baking on Dec. 23 meant sharing the kitchen with my wife, who needed to use the space for her holiday baking.  We generally share this kitchen space by taking turns.  But this morning there was no way around it: we had to co-exist in the same space.  Holiday tempers flared.

I opted for something fairly simple: I would make a big batch of Bavarian Pumpernickel from "Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" (something I've never made before, but sounded interesting). 

I measured what I scooped, to determine the baking percentages.  Here is what I found:

More or less Mis en place

    •    364g whole wheat flour
    •    268g rye flour
    •    378g all purpose flour
    •    19g yeast
    •    9g kosher salt
    •    40g vital wheat gluten
    •    17g bread spice
Plenty gooey to mix up: you have to do it by hand, the spoon isn't enough

My family has an aversion to caraway.  This is my own home-made bread spice, that I made here.  I used 2 TBSP here, not one.  I have to say that the reason this bread smelled great while baking was due to the spice used.
 Everything is mixed, and then it is set aside to sit for 2 hours or so

 It sees a substantial rise in that time, and then it gets refrigerated.

 Overnight in the fridge it will have settled a bit more

Making the liquid caramel was a really fun thing to do, but it does bounce dangerously hot drops of supersaturated solution around when you pour the boiling water over it.  The warnings in the book are to be heeded. 

    •    76g liquid caramel
    •    36g molasses
    •    904g water (961g - 1/4 cup)

I decided to also make up some soaked rye kernels too -- I would boil them 30 minutes and then soak them overnight in some apple cider, and add them to the dough at the last minute before baking. 

    •    1 c rye berries 170g
    •    2 c water

 I boiled the rye kernels for 30 minutes, then soaked them overnight in cider

Now this little change that I made would ultimately change the way this loaf was shaped, and I had no great expectations that my loaf would be as nice as the one promised by the HBin5 authors.  With no great expectations, I was not so very disappointed, therefore, when my bread didn't perform well.  I can't really blame the HBin5 authors here.  I didn't follow directions, so I was bound to have something quite different.

 I flattened the dough gently with my fingers...
 ... and tossed some soaked rye berries on top

I proofed the dough in a basket lined with a tea towel.

 Just prior to baking

Regarding Pumpernickel: 
This "HBin5" pumpernickel bread is not a real, traditional Pumpernickel, but rather a North American variation.  I understand the traditional dark black pumpernickel loaf is mostly rye meal, steam-baked a long time, upwards of 16 hours, to achieve a taste and dark black colour derived from the Maillard reaction.  We know that this is dangerous, due to the Acrylamides that are also formed (although the long steaming process might slow their creation, who knows?).  But something in me wants to try and make it anyway. 

This method is supposed to approximate the taste, the flavour and some of the colour of this dough is supposed to come from the caramelization of some sugar that is boiled on the stove.  This is inauthentic, but it is apparently the best I can do unless I have more time.  I have been recently interested in the discussion of what gets added to pumpernickel to make it so dark.  The experts say nothing gets added: it is the method alone which gives the pumpernickel its taste and its texture and dark colour.

Results of my Bake:

 Before I shook off the excess flour
Pancake thin loaf!


Although this baked for 50 minutes at 450 degrees F. (the HBin5 recipe called for only 30 minutes), it is not baked.  And it tastes nothing like a pumpernickel.  In fact, it tastes very bland -- it is wet inside, and has no Geschmack at all.  If it were not for the fact that it is Christmas and there is nothing else at all to eat when I go to work, I would not eat this at all.  It is awful.

Take a look at the many underbaked areas of the bread, especially on the edge at the bottom, where the bread sat directly on the stone.  This stone was preheated for 30 minutes.  There is no way that it was not hot enough.  What happened?  This looks nothing like pumpernickel, and doesn't even look like a rye bread.  This bread was a disaster.

Merry Christmas.

Notes to Myself

  • This bread cannot be salvaged.  When the holiday nights of work are finished, soak it in water and give it to the chickens, along with the last few "breads" you've made.
  • Informative Links on Rye (Things I've been reading while preparing to bake this):
  • Shiao-Ping writes on her pure rye bread here; I consider her breads to be the very best looking of all the Fresh Loaf Bloggers, and her advice is always on the money.  She makes very nice looking rye loaves and then tells us that her family doesn't like them!  She has made many other rye loaves that I really want to bake too.  She makes it seem so effortless.
  • See also Horst Bandel's Black Pumpernickel recipe, care of The Fresh Loaf Blog.  Another blogger, Franco, attempted it and had good results here.
  • I like the etymologies given in the Wikipedia article on Pumpernickel: "The Devil's Fart" indeed.

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