Saturday, September 16, 2006

Sourdough Pumpernickel Bread

Saturday, September 16, 2006
I was in a bad mood when I started this bread, which is not a good idea because I'm pretty sure the bread dough knows when you're not treating it with appropriate respect. I believe this even though it's nonsense. First of all, the bread calls for caramel powder. Usually Rose is very good about telling you where and how to obtain products that are hard to get. But "caramel powder" is just in the list of ingredients as though it's an everyday staple. I had no idea where caramel powder would even be in a grocery store, and none of the three grocery stores I tried had it or had even heard of it.
In all fairness to Rose, after I began this diatribe, I decided I'd better go make sure that she didn't say anything about caramel powder, so I turned to the other, non-sourdough pumpernickel bread recipe, which I also haven't made, and saw a note to go to page 556, "Coloring Agents." There it says that you can use either liquid caramel, which is like burned sugar, or caramel powder, and that this is the secret to a dark, dark pumpernickel. Shit. Well, I still don't know where to get it, and this puts me in a worse mood because I know that my sourdough pumpernickel is not going to be perfect.
Also, I was annoyed because I could only find coarse-ground pumpernickel meal, instead of pumpernickel flour, which would presumably be a finer grind. This irritates me because I think it will make the bread too grainy. And I also wish I didn't have to throw away so much of my sourdough starter, which is supple and lovely after I've fed it a few times. Not to mention the fact that the bread takes six to eight hours to rise, plus another four to five after it's shaped, which means it won't be ready for cocktail hour today, even though I started on this bread yesterday morning before I went to work. In fact, I don't think it will be ready for a midnight snack. I love the sourdough breads that I've made, but I'm still not sure they're worth all the trouble.
Later.....While waiting for the bread to rise, I decide to order some better pumpernickel flour from The Baker's Catalogue. After I add it to my cart, a list of things I might want to buy since I'm buying pumpernickel flour pops up. The first thing on the list is caramel powder. I order that too and try to look on the bright side--that my second loaf of pumpernickel bread is going to be perfect.
Still later.....What a great loaf of bread! Never mind that it didn't have any powdered caramel--it's still a dark, authentic-looking pumpernickel. The crust is very crisp, and the glaze (cornstarch and water) makes it exceptionally shiny. Never mind that the flour was actually meal--it wasn't too crunchy or too mealy. And it was ready for a midnight snack. It was a great midnight snack, (Jim said it's one of his favorite breads so far), and I'm looking forward to having a few slices for breakfast, along with a bowl of yogurt with slices of fresh Michigan peaches.


DocAMAZING said...

I had to laugh when I was reading through your past blogs this morning. You mention baking a loaf of Rose's cracked wheat bread while watching Murderball, which was the exact same thing I did while watching Murderball three weeks ago.

Excellent blog. I keep it's RSS feed on my Google homepage and check for updates daily. I've been inspired to try more of Rose's recipes through this blog.

kneadtobake said...

Your blog is GREAT! I also am a huge fan of Rose's. She is a great teacher, and like you, I love to cook, and bake. You have been a great inspiration to me also, I have conquered many of the BB recipes thanks to you. Rose should send you her new BB autographed since you have advertised her book so well for her.

Chai18 said...

out of the 16 breads left to make, are bagels one of them?

kneadtobake said...

Roses's bagel's are fantastic! They are no harder to make than most of the other breads that you have already baked. Prepare for alot of compliments.

breadbasketcase said...

You've given me an idea for adding any movie watching I'm doing while I'm baking bread. Last night when I was waiting for the pumpernickel to rise, I watched last week's season opener of "The Wire" that had been Tivo'd. Tonight I'll watch Episode 2.
By the way, my daughter is also a third-year medical student. She's doing her surgery rotation at Northwestern. The rotations sound crazy, but she has assured me that she will take care of me in my old age, so it's all worth it (to me).

breadbasketcase said...

I think your idea of Rose sending me an autographed copy of her new book is a brilliant one!

breadbasketcase said...

Yes, bagels are on my to-do list. I had four breads that really scared me: sourdough, baguettes, bagels, and croissants. I've done sourdough, which no longer scares me, and baguettes, which are, I think, a life's work. I still have to face bagels, which are scary to me because I don't know of anyone who's ever made them, and croissants, for obvious reasons.

breadbasketcase said...

Well, now I know at least one person who's made bagels! I don't suppose you live in Minneapolis by any chance.

evil cake lady said...

i can't wait to read about your croissant adventure, as they scare me the most of all breads/pastries.

(btw, i believe the bread knows when we are pissed off at it, too.)

Allison Lattman said...

I had the same issue with the caramel powder and pumpernickel flour. I just ordered the flour from the Baker's Catalogue, but found a recipe for caramel powder in Rose's Cake Bible:

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Boil everything together like you would caramel, until light amber. Pour onto a sheet of foil. Allow to harden. Process in food processor until fine powder. You can keep this in the freezer.

breadbasketcase said...

I finally ordered some caramel powder from King Arthur, and when I got it, I realized that I already had another jar, which I'd apparently bought somewhere at some earlier time. But what a good idea to make your own--it probably has some actual flavor!