Westphalian Pumpernickel by Post

Bread all over the place

Here is the current crop of breads at home spread out in the watery November sunshine between showers of rain.

From back to front:

Dan Lepard’s delicate milk loaf, good for toast, holding poached eggs and Brian’s favourite white bread.

A 7 seeded bread from Marks Bread in Bedminster. I’m working my way through his breads to see what they are all like. This is one is a nice, nutty seedy bread.

My Horst Bandel rye bread – you’ve met before!

Westphalian Pumpernickel kindly sent to me by Ulrike who is a Mellow Baking friend for me to compare with the Horst Bandel rye bread.

I eat them all but Brian will only eat the first two and he is not too sure about the seeds, though he will eat rye bread if it has caraway in.  So I couldn’t ask anyone else’s opinion here. I am not particularly good at describing tastes but I will give it a shot…

Taste test

What's in the Westphalian Pumpernickel?

Pumpernickel to a German bread eater means exactly this bread, dark and sweet, soft and dense, made only of very coarse ground rye (meal or Schrot), molasses, malted rye,*  water, salt and yeast and baked for a very long time indeed. Looking at this bread it is quite distinctive and it has a unique texture and taste.

At a guess it doesn’t include whole grains soaked and boiled like the Jeffrey Hamelman bread.

Pumpernickel close up

Taste wise I am biased towards my own breads. I think that’s because I am used to them.   My version of the Jeffrey Hamelman recipe is more chewy and grainy and it has a sourer taste too, which might be down to the long second prove it had this time round. It is not as sweet as the traditional pumpernickel, but then it only baked for about 5 hours as opposed to 20! My bread reminds me of the Danish and German Vollkorn breads more with its paler colour and chunkier texture.

What’s really interesting is I just Googled to see what was available here and look here is an export Pumpernickel from the same  German company with an English label which is slightly different. It doesn’t mention molasses and has slightly less rye content. Do you think it has been ‘tweaked’ for the English market?  I know all manner of products are changed slightly to make them more acceptable when they travel abroad, it looks as if pumpernickel does that too.

I have a similar reaction to Ulrike’s when I come across bright orange plastic cheese called Cheddar in, say, a Canadian supermarket. But apparently my Cheddar is only one sort of Cheddar, my sort has a special title  ‘West Country Farmhouse Cheddar’ . OK, I didn’t know that, thanks Wiki!  I suspect that not many people outside the food production world know that certain names are protected or have to be phrased in a particular way. Cheddar is just another word for a medium hard cheese to most people.(My favourite Cheddar ever by the way is made by Keens with unpasteurized milk.)

A little Keens Cheddar on Beer Bread

Only cheese produced and sourced in the English counties of Somerset, Devon, Dorset, and Cornwall may be given the Protected Designation of Origin name “West Country Farmhouse Cheddar”.[3]

Maybe they should do the same for Westphalian Pumpernickel? I am sure it would count as a TSG if not a PGS. You can find out more about this complex area of protected names here on Wikipedia. I looked up Pumpernickel on the DOOR database but I couldn’t find it, though I did find Nurnberger Lebkuchen !

Do you have a treasured foodstuff that has been changed completely in its travels across the world?

Edit : * Jacqueline has given a great translation of the label below in her comment. Thanks Jacqueline!

19 thoughts on “Westphalian Pumpernickel by Post

  1. heidiannie

    I do, but sadly- I preferred the ones in England.
    When I was in Durham, we bought some dried currants at a country market, and now I am forever unhappy with the currants available here.
    The apples tasted differently as well, but I think I like our American apples better- the ones I tasted in Northumberland were- well- softer in flavor and crunch.
    The best bagels I’ve ever had were from Brooklyn, NY and I wish that weren’t true because I haven’t gotten to NY,NY for 2 years.
    My son says the best strawberries are grown in Japan- but then again, they grow theirs in hothouses and up on benches so they are free from insects.
    Thankfully, I love my own bread- especially my sourdough rye- so I can have it whenever I want. And I’m glad the younger generation in my family contains quite a few foodies- so I enjoy many vegetarian and organic dishes.
    England wins out in the cheese department as well. Stilton and Cheddar are not American cheeses. And American cheese- feh!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      The question of currants! Always confused me, for years I thought that the dried currants were the same as the black currants that grew on little bushes in the garden! I think they come from Greece the ones you mean, Heidi? We don’t grow many grapes here, a few for wine but none I think for dried fruit. But we probably import the currants from Greece and Turkey and not from California. I will have a look next time i’m in an approriate store.

      Apples are very seasonal here, though we import them all year round and if you are lucky enough to get local varieties they can be very good, again we get a lot of bland softish French fruit for some reason. Bagels are not good here usually!

  2. spiceandmore

    Oh my, look at that array of bread. And that photo of the butter slathered on the beer bread, with a delicious looking wedge of cheese…yum! It is almost enough to make me want to give up my plan of being good about avoiding gluten and dairy.
    I love “real’ cheddar as well.
    Chorizo and dried porcini are the two things I miss most compared to the original versions I had in Spain and Italy.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Hi Spice! You can avoid gluten if you eat rye breads. No advice on the dairy front apart from to eat the best you can get hold of to make it worth it :)

  3. Abby

    Love that first picture!! It’s so fun to see the Horst compared to a true German pumpernickel. Loved all of your descriptions, too. I’m hoping to get to that one next weekend…..We’ll see! =)

  4. cityhippyfarmgirl

    Pizza in Italy. Treasured yes. Changed completely, as so many people can totally ruin it. We can get a similar pizza at just one place I have found in Sydney, but really and truly it STILL tastes better in Italy. Much thinner, crispier. Pizza in Australia is usually much thicker as that’s what people want. Also drowned with cheese- oh the horror! We never buy pizza any more just make it, (unless it’s the one same place and then it’s all systems go.)

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Brydie, pizza is very personal isn’t it? Some like it thin and crispy and some like it thick and bready. I like it thin and crispy and slightly charred with a rim full of bubbles, getting a bit better at making it, dream of a wood fired pizza oven in the garden…

  5. Jacqueline

    Excellent looking bread! I love pumpernickel, it’s that sort of tangy taste and how it’s so solid but when you bite it you realise it’s only just holding together. More and more tempted to try and make some.

    I’m no native speaker so I stand open to all corrections, but here’ s what’s in pumpernickel:

    Roggenvollkornschrot= whole-grain rye grits (or groats?). Very coarse rye meal, anyway. ‘Roggen’ is rye and ‘vollkorn’ is wholegrain
    Rübensirup= treacle, except “Rübe” is a beet, so maybe it’s syrup from sugarbeets
    Malzextrakt= malt extract, and Gerste= barley- so barley malt
    Wasser= water
    Salz= salt
    Hefe= yeast

    It can also be deduced that you’ve got 802Kj per/100g (low; most bread is around 1,000), 5g protein and 34.6g carbs (of which sugar is 7.8g). More healthy than a muesli bar!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Wow, thanks Jacqueline for that! I didn’t know that pumpernickel was more healthy than a museli bar, how interesting, I guess that’s to do with the sugar content? Schrot is really hard to translate into British English as we don’t have ‘grits’ either. The best way to describe its density is something like pinhead oats, though coarser and more irregular. So many different grinds of rye are available in Germany and we are very limited here. I have done a little with my hand mill, should try to experiment more.

  6. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    Look at that stunning spread! That looks like an entry into a county show, Jo! :)

    I love pumpernickel bread, but over here we only ever had it in little rounds for topping for canapes. It is something I really must try and make one day, thank you for the inspiration!

    PS. Tell Brian he’s very lucky to have a gorgeous wife who bakes him exactly the sort of bread he loves..hehe

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      It would be a good entry if it was all baked by me Celia ;) I tried to make rounds for your canapés, but only ended up with a half round! I’ve been trying to persuade him to taste the other breads just to tell me what he thinks, but he gives me looks, heehee

  7. Ulrike

    Thanks for the nice post featuring pumpernickel.

    Jacqueline you are right about Malzextrakt (Gerste) and Rübensirup, which is made from sugar beet.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Not at all :) Westphalian Pumpernickel is a lovely bread!

      I think I mentioned to you translating the beet syrup as molasses because we don’t have anything labelled beet syrup here and I am not sure what the exact equivalent would be. We have basically golden syrup, treacle (50/50 refiners syrup and molasses) and blackstrap molasses in England. Though specialist companies like Ragus will make custom formulations. In Sweden they have light and dark syrup. I don’t know what they have in the States or Australia in that category of heavy liquid sugars. I guess some are made from cane sugar and some are made from sugarbeet. We still use a lot of cane sugar from our colonial past and our historic trade relations with the West Indies and other countries, well I say that off the top of my head, I suspect it’s a lot more complicated than that!

      1. Ulrike

        Germany is not famous for its colonial past. Its all a kind of translation and labeling. Molasses in German Melasse is the same product which can come frome cane or sugar beet. Germany grows sugar beet, so normally molasses comes from it. In Germany it is called beet syrup, in Scandinavia dark syrup. We also have light syrup called Kuchensirup = cake syrup

  8. Choclette

    A lovely spread of bread – excuse the assonance. The pumpernickel looks wonderful – when are you going to try that one? My favourite cheddar is Montgomery (I haven’t tried Keens) which is also an unpasteurised traditional cheese.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      I’ve heard Montgomery is great too, I will have to hunt some down. I don’t know if I could achieve pumpernickelness, it has an even longer bake time than the one I just made. Shades of making meringues. My gran always said that once they got rid of coal gas in favour of North Sea gas her meringues were never the same again, I think you need quite special baking conditions to get that bread right sadly. ;(

  9. theinversecook

    How interesting, this Pumpernickel is called “Schwarzbrot” in my area, whereas Pumpernickel would would be even darker and very moist. Oh well, I give up understanding German breads :-)

  10. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    It is pretty dark, much darker than that close up shot came out. More like the colour in the general picture at the top. Hey Nils, don’t give up on understanding German breads! We rely on you and all the other fantastic German home bakers who are kind enough to blog in English to interpret them for us ;)

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