Pumpernickel is a traditional whole wheat bread that has all but fallen into oblivion in recent years. The bread has a spicy taste and contains many high-quality ingredients and has a long shelf life.
This black bread was first baked in Osnabrück, a German town near the Dutch border in the western region of Lower Saxony in 1450. What makes it special is that it stays fresh and has no crust.
- Place the berries in a small saucepan and pour boiling water over them, covering at least 1 inch (2.5 cm). Cover and set aside to soak overnight.
- Mix the rye flour, water and sourdough starter in a small bowl until well blended. Cover and let rest overnight in a warm place.
- The next day, add enough water to the soaked rye berries so that there is about three times as much water as the berries. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for about 1 hour, or until berries are tender. Drain the cooked berries and set them aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the dark rye pumpernickel flour, cracked rye, and salt. Add the levain (starter) and 1⅓ cups (300 ml) of water. Mix until everything is well mixed and there are no more traces of flour.
- Add the cooked berries, syrup and sunflower seeds. Knead the dough with the dough hook of an electric mixer or with your hands, adding the rest of the water while kneading, if necessary, until the dough starts to come off the sides of the bowl. Dust with rye flour and cover. Let rest for 30 minutes in a warm place.
- Grease 5 straight-sided (16 oz/450 ml) baking tins or 2 baking tins.
- Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface to remove excess air. The dough should be a little sticky. Divide the dough into equal portions and place in your baking pans. Leave about an inch of free space in the pans for the bread to rise.
- Fill the pans only two-thirds full to make smaller loaves. Grease small pieces of aluminum foil and line the tins with the greased side down. Let it rest in a warm place for 2 to 3 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F/150°C. Remove the aluminum foil from the pans and lightly spray the surface of the dough with water. Place the aluminum foil back on the pans, greased side down.
- Set the oven rack to the lowest position. Place the baking tins in a roasting pan and place them on the oven rack. Pour about 1 inch of hot water into the casserole and cover.
- Bake at 300°F/150°C for 1 hour. Reduce heat to 212°F/100°C and bake for another 13 hours. Add hot water to the casserole every few hours to maintain the water level.
- At the end of the baking time, turn off the oven and leave the casserole in the oven for 1 hour. Then remove the casserole and bakeware from the oven and let everything cool on the counter for another 30 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Carefully turn the bread over and place in the warm oven for a few hours to dry.
- Remove the bread from the oven. Let them cool completely, then wrap them in wax paper or parchment paper and place them in freezer bags right away or let the bread sit in a cool place for two more days before slicing.