I’m not much of a bread person. Some people seem to need it with almost every meal but I would normally say that if I never saw another slice again I’d be fine. But there is an exception and this bread is it…
Growing up in the USA, I always loved a black bread we called ‘pumpernickel’ which was dark and slightly sweet and nutty – so much more flavourful than any white or even brown loaf could ever be. (And as an added bonus, ‘pumpernickel’ is one of the best food words out there, almost on par with ‘frangipane’!) It’s one of the few foods I haven’t found a substitute for here in the UK. I tried buying something called pumpernickel in the supermarket but it wasn’t quite right and after a bit of research I realised why. The official German version of pumpernickel is quite a different thing than what I grew up eating – it’s a much plainer, crumblier bread without all the lovely spices that make the American version so tasty. So if I wanted the kind of pumpernickel I was craving there was only one solution – make it myself.
Since I’m not much of a bread eater, I’ve never been much of a bread baker, other than the odd pizza dough or focaccia. I was a bit nervous to try making black bread as many of the recipes out there have long, scary ingredient lists so I’ve tried to simplify things. I was really pleased with how this turned out – so good that I devoured half the loaf within 20 minutes of it coming out of the oven! If you’re also a novice bread maker and want more top tips on how to bake the perfect loaf, have a read of this guide from Delicious magazine or check out the many great blogs that have more to say on the subject, like smittenkitchen.com.
- about 300g jar of good-quality dark olives such as Kalamata in brine
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 package of dry yeast
- 250g white bread flour
- 100g rye flour
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- Drain the olives and keep the brine. Add the vinegar and top up with water to make 250ml.
- Stir in the brown sugar and the yeast and leave for 10-15 minutes for the yeast to activate. The yeast mixture should bubble slightly.
- Preheat your oven to 50C. Meanwhile, mix the flours with the cocoa powder and seeds, either by hand or in an electric mixer with a dough attachment.
- Then mix the liquid into the dry ingredients. If using an electric mixer, the dough will come together quite quickly so that it becomes a solid mass and separates from the mixing blade. When this happens, remove from the processor and knead in the olives. If kneading by hand, work the dough until it has a smooth, springy consistency (5-10 minutes) and then add the olives. The original recipe from the Guardian leaves the olives whole, but next time I make this I might slice them thickly just to make the dough a bit easier to work with.
- Turn the preheated oven off. Cover the dough and place on a tray in the oven to rise.
- Remove once it has doubled in size, in about 1-2 hours. Gently knead and shape into a round loaf.
- Cover and place in the warm oven again for 45 minutes to an hour.
- Remove the loaf and heat the oven to 220C. Cut a cross shape into the top of the bread with a knife.
- Put the loaf into the oven and reduce the heat to 190C. Bake the loaf for 35-50 minutes, until it makes a hollow sound when you tap it.
- Cool slightly on a wire rack – but make sure to try a warm slice or two with some butter… yum.
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