Sunday, November 05, 2006

Authentic Pumpernickel Bread


Sunday, November 5, 2006
I didn't think there would be any bread this weekend, but I got home in enough time to make pumpernickel bread, which, of the five I have left, was the one that took the least amount of time.
Because we are public defenders, and our budget is always tight, our annual conference is at the cheapest resort in Minnesota on the cheapest weekend of the year. The first weekend in November is off-off-season for northern Minnesota. The only other thing that's going on is Deer Opener; that is, the first day that people can go out in the woods and commune with Nature by killing animals.
We have a very close-knit office, and everyone was looking forward to going to Cragun's (the cheap resort), even though everyone always complains about the decor (ratty North Woods), color scheme (turquoise and brown), the smell of the cabins (combination of mildew and bleach), and the food (all-you-can-eat bowls of lime jello with pineapple tidbits and miniature marshmallows). As soon as we got there, people started talking about when they were leaving. The young women who were spending their first time away from their babies made secret phone calls to their husbands to check on whether their husbands had remembered 1) to pick up the child from day care and 2) to feed him or her. (All was well). The somewhat older women told the new mothers to enjoy their time away from their kids because it wouldn't happen very often. And some people (well, one person) kept talking about a KitchenAid and bread. The men, on the other hand, started drinking beer as soon as they arrived and showed no interest in going home early.
I stayed until Sunday morning, skipped the last two classes, and headed for home--the KitchenAid and The Bread Bible.
What a machine this is! Well, I have to admit that I was a little confused at first, but it didn't take me long to figure out how to attach the bowl to the mixer and to move the bowl up and down. My only real dilemma was the mixer speed: Rose says to knead on #4, but KitchenAid has dire warnings on every available surface of the machine, on the bread hook itself, and repeatedly throughout the informational brochure: "Use Speed 2 to mix or knead yeast doughs. Use of any other speed creates high potential for unit failure!" I finally decided I'd better go with KitchenAid's warnings, since Rose didn't threaten me with anything as bad as "unit failure" if I didn't use Speed 4.
It must be a more powerful motor because #2 speed worked just fine.
When I made the sourdough pumpernickel bread a month or so ago, I didn't have the caramel color and I had only very coarse sourdough grain. It still tasted good. I think that this one may have been even better. I liked the texture of the more finely ground flour, and the caramel color, along with the cocoa and the instant espresso powder, deepened the color beautifully. I added a little sourdough starter to the dough while I was mixing it, and that small amount of sourdough, plus a little cider vinegar, gave the bread a subtle tang.
I had two minor mishaps, but neither one shows in the picture, and neither one affected the taste. La Cloche slid into one side of the bread when I put it in the oven, so that side stuck to La Cloche and had to be forcibly detached. But we just moved that side to the back for the photos. And I made a mistake about the baking time so I took the bread out too early; even using the "thump" method instead of the thermometer method, however, I could see it wasn't done, so I just put it back in. And what's a project without a mistake or two?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Marie,
I have tried to leave 2 messages now and each have been swallowed into somewhere!
I got to your blog from RLB site and just had to check you out as I love all 'baker yak'. I started your blog and finally got through to November in the wee hours of the morning. I have enjoyed your journey to baker's nirvana. Your breads are looking mighty fine too. I think that if you can work in a love scene and a car chase you have the makins' of a good movie script. Meryl Streep as Marie...
I have RLB Cake Bible and and Christmas cookie book. She won me over when I read that she did her dissertation on if sifting affects the quality of a yellow cake. I could smell a perfectionist, and that I would learn a lot from her if I just paid attention.
It was so funny reading about the lye dipped bread baking. It makes me wonder how someone got the idea that this might make bread taste better? How many people were maimed to get the recipe just right? Very curious!
I am hoping for the BBB for Christmas and perhaps a new KitchenAid mixer. I have gone through 7 hand held mixers making all the cakes that I do. I am so pleased that you have got the beautiful nickel model. (if not a wee bit envious.) How very lovely she looks. I wonder how many miles to the gallon she uses? I have been down to our local department store and my fingerprints are all over the model on display. I try to visit it frequently. Sometimes I take the beaters off and attach the dough hook and pretend it is mine. I can feel the store detective cameras watching my every move, as I have obviously been identified as someone most suspicious....
I don't really want your bread adventures to end. I think you shoud do the Cake Bible next. And then her new cake book... Fame has it's obligations.
Sending you fond good wishes from England, and please blow some kisses to my sisters in Oregon for me.
Sincerely, Melinda Pickworth

breadbasketcase said...

Melinda,
I like the idea of Meryl Streep playing me!
I hope you get your KitchenAid for Christmas--maybe if you leave enough fingerprints on the store model, you can negotiate a good price on it. And it would be a bargain in the long run if you've already gone through 7 hand-held mixers.
I will be glad to blow some kisses in the general direction of Oregon, although geography has never been a strong suit, and they may drift toward northern California.

Anonymous said...

Marie,
I hate to throw another bread at you while you are in the home stretch, but you gotta try the "no knead" bread profiled in the NYT. I found it online at nyt.com, and it is conveniently located (along with the associated article discussing the recipe) in the "most emailed" sidebar on the right hand side. I made it and it was great! Crispy shattery crust, soft, nicely air-holed creamy interior. And no kneading. Probably about 20 min hands on time, and an 12-18 hour fermentation. Takes about 24 hours to go from grabbing the flour scoop, to grabbing the butter knife. Be interested to know what you think.
Chris in RI

breadbasketcase said...

Chris,
I cut that recipe out as soon as I saw it! His technique looks fascinating, and I'm so glad to hear that you tried it--I thought maybe it was something that only that chef and Mark Bittmann could bake. What kind of pan did you use? Did it really not stick to the pan?

Anonymous said...

I don't have any fancy cast iron enameled pots or pans, or covered bread bakers so I had to improvise (so what's new?) I used a large, heavy (6 qt)oven proof bowl and put a skillet lid on it. Worked great, and it slid right out, didn't even threaten to stick! Had some last night with J. Pepin's "quick cassoulet", and birthday cake (DH's). A great meal. Chris in RI
Oh, and he said it's easy enough for an 8 yr old to make it (the bread)...I don't know about that yet, but a 3 1/2 year old helped.

slatta said...

I also just discovered your blog, courtesy of Rose. I have her Bread Bible and Cake Bible, and I've dropped some very strong hints that a Pastry Bible would be a most welcome Christmas present.

I used the Cake Bible to make a wedding cake for my friends (and no, I'm not a professional by any stretch of the imagination!) and everybody raved about it. I have a picture of it posted on my website (you have to scroll down a bit to see it: http://www.saralatta.com/bio.htm).

Anyway, congratulations on nearly finishing your project! It was fun to read through your blog and compare your results with mine (and now I've been inspired to try some new ones).
--Sara

breadbasketcase said...

Sara,
Your cake looks amazing! It was so brave of you to volunteer to bake a wedding cake--didn't you keep thinking about how it might collapse or melt or something equally bad? Or aren't you a worrier?
I just bought a copy of The Pie and Pastry Bible for myself. I decided not to wait for Christmas, and I'm planning to bake a few Thanksgiving pies.

quel-fromage said...

Darn! I've only just discovered your blog and you're nearly done. I have the BBB, but I haven't had the courage to delve into it. Rose intimidates me a little bit (and I am not an easily intimidated cook or baker). I have the Pastry Bible, and I never make anything out of it without starting a week in advance by reading and re-reading the recipe and carefully plotting my course lest I find myself at step 253 of 300 without some crucial ingredient or piece of equipment. Anyway, all by way of saying what an amazing project, and what a terrific resource it will be for all of us who want to jump in to the BBB with both feet!

Also, I wanted to say that I have made brioche (Julia Child's recipe) using my Kitchen Aid many times. She calls for beating the quite thick dough at high speed for 15 minutes or so. My KA gets quite warm, and I have to watch it like a hawk so it doesn't "walk" off the counter as it slings the ball of dough around, but the motor holds up like a trooper.

breadbasketcase said...

QF,
I just got a copy of the Pie and Pastry Bible today. I was looking through it and saying, "Oh my God, I could never make that!" but Jim reminded me that I'd said that numerous times about various breads. I agree that the recipes call for careful reading and re-reading--you definitely need a plan of action!

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