Dense And Delicious German Sourdough Bread (Pumpernickel)

This is a richly flavoured, traditional German sourdough bread, naturally leavened without yeast. Dark and tasty, it is less sweet than commercial pumpernickel and more closely resembles the German black bread, schwartzbrot. It’s slow cooking time ensures that it will keep very well.

PREPARATION TIME: a few minutes FERMENTING TIME: 16-20 hours COOKING TIME: 5-6 hours YIELD: 1 loaf

3 cups coarse rye flour
1 3/4 cups coarse wheat flour
1 1/4 cups coarse barley flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon powdered fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon powdered anise seeds
1/2 teaspoon powdered caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon powdered coriander seeds
2 teaspoons treacle 600ml water, heated to about 65 C/150 F


Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Dissolve the treacle in the warm water and pour the water into the dry mix to form a moist dough. Knead briefly. Press the dough into a 3-litre/quart capacity rectangular bread-baking tin and flatten the top.

Cover the bread tin with oiled plastic wrap and leave in a warm place (30 C/85 F) for 16-20 hours. If the temperature is right, the dough will naturally ferment and rise in the tin. (The sour fermented aroma is quite natural.) Remove the plastic wrap and replace with a tight covering of foil.

Pre-heat the oven to 107 C/225 F. Fill a large baking pan with boiling water and place at the bottom of the oven. Sit a rack over the pan and place the bread tin on top of the rack. Bake the bread for 5-6 hours or until it feels firm and looks dark.

For the final stage of baking, remove the foil and the baking pan of water from the oven, and increase the oven temperature to 175 C/350 F. Bake the bread for another 30 – 60 minutes or until the top of the bread is crusty.

Remove the loaf, cool on a wire rack and leave 24 hours before cutting into very thin slices when required.

Posted in Breads.