Whole Grain Pumpernickel, and a look at our new FAQs page


The “black and white” pumpernickel/rye braid is a New York specialty that brings back fond memories for me. Pumpernickel is a kind of rye, and we included a whole grain version in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which also has a rustic Bavarian-Style pumpernickel based on the same dough.  Let’s throw together the recipe for this healthy and hearty dough, plus talk about a new feature on our website:  The FAQs–Frequently Asked Questions tabIt’s simple to mix the dough for whole grain pumpernickel, just like all our doughs, same exact method as the Master Whole Grain Recipe, but with these ingredients:

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 3/4 cups whole grain rye flour (most supermarket rye is whole grain)

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon kosher salt (increase or decrease to taste)

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (or 2 packets)

1 tablespoons caramel color powder or 1/4 cup homemade liquid caramel color

1/4 cup vital wheat gluten

1 tablespoon caraway seeds

2 tablespoons molasses

4 cups lukewarm water

As I said, mixing instructions are in the link for the Master Recipe

After mixing, it sits on the counter for about 2 hours, then into the fridge for use over the next 7 days.  Tear off a piece as you need it, shape it, and then rest on the counter, covered loosely with plastic wrap, for 90 minutes.

The Bavarian style would be to rise it in a banneton (aka brotform in German) click to purchase at Amazon; instructions on using a banneton are in this link here in the website.  The result:


If you want the black and white braid, you’ll also need some plain rye dough.  One easy plain rye is our white-flour Master Recipe from the first book, (online recipe here) but replace 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose with 1 cup of rye flour.

Make three dough strands of the same length, two rye and one pumpernickel, but make the pumpernickel strand twice as thick.  Braid them together (see the challah post for braiding instructions).  Then 90 minutes on the counter under plastic wrap.  Brush with water and sprinkle with caraway seeds if you like, then into a preheated 450 degree oven for about 30 minutes with steam (dump a cup of water into a preheated broiler tray, or just bake under an aluminum foil lasagne pan for the first 2/3’s of baking.  Loaves are done when firm and very brown.
Voila!  Let it cool completely before cutting, or it will seem underdone.

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84 thoughts to “Whole Grain Pumpernickel, and a look at our new FAQs page”

  1. I have a question for the FAQ – what is the best way to freeze the raw dough? Do I need to change anything about the pre-baking rise?

    Also, what about shaping loaves in the evening to bake first thing in the morning? Is it possible to let them have a slow rise overnight, so I don’t need to wait 90 minutes to start baking them in the morning?

    Thank you for maintaining this site as a resource – it is truly wonderful!

    1. Marissa: You can freeze dough anytime after the initial rise has completed. I like to break it into smaller portions so I only defrost what I’ll need for a loaf out of each portion.

      The slow rise in the fridge overnight is the Dense Crumb FAQ in that tab above– exactly as you suggest. Jeff

  2. Hello – quick question: is the caramel colouring essential to the flavour of the bread or is it just for the appearance of the loaf? And, is it ok to omit it?


    1. Amanda: The caramel color imparts a slightly bitter flavor that’s typical of pumpernickel, so you’ll be missing something. It will more like typical rye if you leave it out. Jeff

  3. I’ve made the Bavarian rye in the new book several times already and it’s beena huge hit with family and friends. Because I don’t have a banneton, I let it rise like a boule on a parchment paper lined peel. I’ve used the King Arthur Artisan Bread Mixed Seeds to decorate (very nice for a change from plain caraway). BTW, the parchment paper is the BEST way to move the dough into the oven with the peel. It slides right off onto the stone and no messy cornmeal getting all over the oven. Just remember to set the timer at 2/3 of the way through the baking time (20 minutes for a 30 minute bake) in order to let the bottom rest directly on the stone for crispness and color. Perfection every time!

    1. Fran: We use some cocoa in addition to caramel coloring in the first book’s pumpernickel recipe, which is a little different than this one from the second book. That recipe calls for 1 1/2 tablespoons of cocoa.

      It”s not going to taste the same though. You need something bitter to cut that cocoa flavor, that’s what caramel coloring does, it’s not just for color. Jeff

  4. Sandy, I’ve noticed that no matter if my dough is on cornmeal, silpat or parchment, I get burnt spots on the bottom! Do you have any trouble with yours? I don’t have a stone, I use my cast iron skillet upside-down.

  5. This pumpernickel is beautiful – it will be next on my list to try. I have been very happy with the master recipe. It’s simple, quick and, best of all, it makes great bread. Thank you!

  6. I’m going to go out on a limb and ask a bizarre question.. Instead of caramel color, could you use cocoa and cream of tartar. Cream of tartar is an acid…just wondering because I have those in my kitchen.

    Thanks again for more great bread recipes!

    1. Cathie: Cocoa’s fine, but won’t impart the slight bitterness of caramel color.

      I’m not sure what cream of tartar would do here, I don’t imagine it’s going to stand in for caramel color. Jeff

  7. I just mixed up a batch of the toasted millet and fruit bread (pg. 134, HB5M)–can I used loaf pans instead of free-form loaves? Any adjustments of baking time, technique, etc.? Do I need to slash the tops of the loaves still? The dough is DELICIOUS–can’t wait to try to baked bread! For dried fruit, I used blueberries in addition to cranberries and cherries–seems to make a really nice combination. Thanks!

    1. Yvonne: You can get away without slashing for loaf pan breads; the pan controls the dough’s spread and prevents odd shapes from forming. It will probably take a slightly longer bake, on the order of 10 to 15% more time in the oven, same temp. Jeff

  8. I need help. I have tried your Master Reciple 3 times and I keep getting unsatisfactory results. After the dough rises , there is no elasticity, Ive looked at your video several and it doesn’t look like my dough. I have changed to new yeast rapid rise yeast. I have weighed the flours. I am using fresh ground whole wheat and unbleached white flour. The whole wheat is from hard red wheat.

    Please help to understand why my dough rises but it doesn’t stick together. It isn’t stringy like in the video.

    I’m looking forward to your response so I can try it again.

  9. I just went to amazon to order & both books are currently ‘unavailable’ which I’m hoping is very temporary, as my library book is due soon!! Thanks!

  10. Thanks for checking on Amazon; I’ll wait to order the other items in my cart until Monday & hope something is resolved then; I would like to get ahold of both books as soon as possible, but odd that Amazon won’t even let me place the order now for when it is restocked, that’s not typical for them.

    I neglected to mention earlier how much I have loved the results I’ve obtained from the copy I have from the library. And I am NOT a baker of any type, certainly not of bread! Thanks again, and I can’t wait to see the 2nd book also.

    1. Thanks Becca,

      So glad you are enjoying the book and we too hope that Amazon figures out the problem!

      Happy baking, Zoë

  11. The proportions seem a little off in this recipe. I’ve just mixed up a batch and the dough is very very sticky & wet. Adding it up, you’ve got 7 3/4 c flours and 4 c water. The recipe in ABin5 is 7c flour and 3c water. So, above adds a full c water with only an addl 3/4 c flour. Why all the extra water?

    1. Susan: The reason is that whole grains absorb lots more water than recipes that are heavier on the white flour. Give the dough a chance to absorb a little more of that water into the grain structure and you should find you can handle it. Jeff

  12. Hi Guys,
    A friend of mine is starting a business selling Artin5 bread and would like to bake as many loaves at a time as possible in her home electric oven.

    If she manages to cover the whole of her middle shelf with baking stones (2 rectangular ones), how many 1 lb.loaves could she bake (4?) and how would the baking time change. Any ideas?


    1. Margot: You need to have about a inch, to an inch-and-a-half between loaves. I’m guessing that you can do 4 or maybe six on a shelf. All depends on shelf size.

      I’m guessing that baking time might increase about 10%, but that depends on the oven. Might not change at all. Jeff

    1. Our new book (click above to see it on Amazon, “Healthy Bread…”) has about 10 master recipes that that have no white flour. You can do lots of variations with those ten. Jeff

  13. Jeff – thanks for the reply re: the amount of water. I did not refrigerate my dough before making the first 2 loaves, so that would explain why it felt so sticky. I gather from your reply that the remaining dough should be less wet when I use it from the fridge.

    I do have one more question. Why no cocoa or espresso in the recipe above (as in the original ABin5 recipe)? The flavor of the above recipe was underwhelming. I think the next time I make it I will add the cocoa & espresso back in.

    1. Susan: Some people weren’t crazy about the cocoa and espresso, so we did this one differently. Just a matter of taste, so try it here. You may need to adjust the liquids, but I can’t remember in which direction, it’s been a while since I tested that first recipe. Jeff

      PS: Remaining dough should be good.

  14. Hi! I am waiting for my book to arrive from Amazon. In the meantime, I have used the Master recipe from the website to make several delicious loaves of bread. My question is can I use the dough for hamburger buns, and if so, how long should I let them rise and how long should I bake them? I’m going to make NC bbq this weekend and some homemade rolls would really be great with it. Thanks in advance for any help!

  15. Wow, thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I can’t wait for the book to arrive, nor can any of the friends or family that have already gotten warm loaves of bread!

    1. Jen: CostCo is the only place in town where you can buy 50 lb bags, but they’re not WW. I’m guessing that Linden Hills coop can do it, as a special order. Jeff

  16. When I click on any of the months in the archive column it takes me to the current home page instead of the month I clicked on. I’m trying to get some friends to try this and need to show them some old posts. Thanks.

    1. Bob: Unfortunately, there’s a “versioning” problem in WordPress, and we can’t easily fix this. We will probably be de-commissioning that feature in the near future. A better way to search our site is to use the “Search” box; enter words that you think appear in the title of the post. Jeff

  17. I was hoping there would be nutritional information in the book for each bread.

    I’m trying to add fiber to my diet and I’d like to know what bread(s) are the most dense with fiber?


    1. Valerie: Check our FAQs page, I’ve added a link to a nutrient database.

      All the 100% whole grain breads are high in fiber; as soon as you replace whole grain with white flour you lose some fiber. Jeff

  18. Went to your class in Phoenix. I have a couple of questions: 1st, can I incorporate herbs into a piece of the dough after I cut off a piece? 2nd, if I want to use more white flour than wheat (3-1 ratio), do I need the vital wheat gluten flour? Loved your class!

    1. Linn: Absolutely can incorp herbs or anything else — see the question under our FAQ page, just added it in. Great seeing you in Phoenix!

      If you keep the wheat at 1:3, you probably don’t need VWG, but you won’t need as much water either. Jeff

  19. I love baking bread from your books. It’s so satisfying.
    I keep eyeing EAGLE MILLS ULTRA-GRAIN Flour when I’m at Costco. Has anyone tried it? And what does that even mean?

    Thanks for the amazing books. I’m glad I got mine from Amazon before the glitch.

    1. Sarah: EM Ultra-Grain is a mixture of white whole wheat (WWW) and all-purpose white flour (AP). I’m not sure of the proportion, but they claim it can be swapped in for AP recipes, so I can’t imagine it has all that much white whole wheat. Or, maybe it does, in which case it’s going to throw off the moisture level in our recipes.

      That doesn’t mean you can’t use it; you’d just have to adjust the water. You can make your own “ultra-grain” by mixing WWW (King Arthur is the only brand at the moment) with AP. Jeff

  20. I just got your second book after trying out the recipes in Mother Earth News! The first recipe I looked for was with OATS. I found the Oat Maple bread and became very excited. That was exactly what I was looking for! BUT there is a problem! It has buttermilk! I am allergic to Milk. I often just substitute soy or rice milk for recipes with milk in them but this is buttermilk and I am afraid those thin soy and rice milks just won’t due. Any suggestions? Thank you! Great job keeping up with the questions!

    1. Hi Krista,

      I think you will be just fine to substitute the soy milk in the recipe. You will not have the same initial tang to the bread, but after a few days it will come naturally to the dough.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  21. Eagle Mills will not give the proportion of WWW to AP in their bread. I called their 800#. Just FYI

    As for WWWflour, Trader Joes has a house brand. And I don’t think it’s repackaged KA because I read some complaint about TJ no longer carrying KA on KA’s blog.

  22. Is there a difference in using active or instant yeast? and, what are yeast granules? Are they instant or active?

    1. Hi Ellen,

      You can use active or instant yeast, it doesn’t seem to matter in our recipes. Any kind of yeast works.

      Thanks, Zoë

  23. I have a recipe I am making that calls for hoagie rolls; I have your cookbook and just know there is a recipe/technique that will work, but I am not sure which one. Can you advise me about which recipe might be best and then, I assume I can just shape it into an oval shape for the hoagie; also, if I want the hoagies to be soft, I also assume to not use steam? As you can see, a lot of assuming! Thanks for your help. I discovered your book through Mother Earth News and not only purchased it for myself but for my mom and sister. It is just wonderful; thank you so much. I visit your website all the time for ideas and inspiration. This Christmas I made your Panettone recipe – which was wonderful. The pizza on a stick is a family favorite.

    1. Melissa: Agree, no steam, but you can go further, with some of the enriched doughs, like the Buttermilk one in the 1st book. Or even challah or brioche, if you’re OK with the egg (though that isn’t typically seen in hoagie rolls). To keep it really soft, brush with oil or butter before baking, that will work even with non-enriched doughs like the basic Master. Jeff

  24. am trying the maple oatmeal for the first time…. after 3 hours for the first rise BUT it still didn’t seem to have doubled and collapsed i put it in the fridge at that point because i was concerned about how long i could leave it on the counter because it has milk in it. i decided to try bake it anyway and just pulled out a hunk ( has been in the fridge for several hours ) but it feels more like cookie dough bread dough. what should i have done different and how long can you safely leave bread dough out for the first initial rise if it has milk and/or eggs in it/ or other dairy? also i noticed in the description for the pesto pine nut bread ( what i want to try next ) it says when descibing the aroma of it baking it mentions cheese but there is no cheese in the recipe. is there supposed to be some cheese? thank you this was may first time trying your method. so i need to know what i did wrong ( i know the water was not too hot )

    1. Hi Nan-C,

      Did the dough rise at all? It sounds like the dough may just be a little too dry. You can add a few tablespoons more water to the mix and allow it to sit for a little while the flour absorbs the water.

      The cheese is an ingredient in the pesto.

      Thanks for trying the breads and happy baking! Zoë

  25. For dairy-free buttermilk, add 1 tsp to a cup of soy or rice milk and set it aside for about 5 minutes, then sub it for buttermilk. Works like a charm!

  26. hi, seriously i’ve been baking with my mom since i was about 3 and baking on my own since i was about 8 and i can only think of one other time i’ve not had something turn out ( a lemon shaker pie, coz i didn’t have a mandoline and couldnt get the lemon slices thin enough ) i also used to make all our bread by hand when i was younger tho i switched to a bread machine for a lot of it later on coz of arthritis. i threw out the rest of yesterday dough and tried the same one again today i’m pasting in part of an email i sent to my friend who has been making your healthy breads with success these past few weeks pasting in my note to renee____ so i threw away the rest of that dough i made yesterday and pondered and pondered what could have done wrong. i tested the yeast from the new jar i bought it’s alive so that’s not the problem. only thing i could think of is that the liquid and surroundings were too cold ( our granite counterops stay really chilly and it was resting on that.) so i decided to try the same dough again today. this time i ran the heater to get the room to 70-73 degrees ( any warmer and rudi would have a fit ) put a folded towel on the counter to keep it from being cold at the bottom. and i heated the liquids to 94 degrees ( can’t go over 100 ) and then it rose up to as high as it got yesterday ( which took 3- 3.25 hours yesterday ) after only 1 hour so i thought YAY FINALLY. nope it’s now 2.5 hours and it’s the same height i can see lots of air holes thru the plastic. i pulled out a pinch of dough no strands its still like spongy cookie dough. i can’t imagine anything else to do. because of the milk in it i’m going to put it in the fridge soon. but i think it’s going to be the same as yesterday…. and i can’t really shape it like they want coz it has no freaking gluten strands. so can you maybe try the maple oatmeal next and let me know if it worked for you?_____ Zoe thanks for the reply. how long can we safely leave bread dough with dairy in it out for the intitial rise? anyway this is still not working for me i guess i”ll go back to the bread machine or kneaded dough for now. i’m pretty frustrated. i’ll try again when my stress level is lower ( baking usually relaxes me, my dad is very ill right now, so i don’t think i should keep doing something that is frustrating me, but if you have any other ideas and give me a safety time range for doughs with dairy in them for when i’m ready to try again i’d appreciate it. )

  27. We just redid our kitchen and put in Kitchen Aid double ovens that have steam injection. The steam percentage can be set from 100% down to 50% or of course 0. I use a large glazed floor tile from Home Depot which works just fine. Learned this trick from a French retaurant owner in Georgetown DC.

    How would you modify your instructions for such an oven. For example how much steam and for how long?

    1. Stan: The modification is that you don’t need to add steam– so no need for the broiler pan, the Dutch oven, the clay cloche, or the lasagne tray. I’d try 100% steam; ideally you only need it for about the 1st third of baking. I’m assuming you can shut it down when you like.

      Just for the record, I thought it was the unglazed quarry tile that people are using.

      Would love to own one of these…


  28. Nan: I think it’s fine to go 4 or 5 hrs.

    Keep in mind that this particular recipe is going to be relatively dense, and because of the oats, won’t develop impressive gluten strands. But… are you definitely using vital wheat gluten? What brand of white whole wheat are you using? Jeff

  29. What is the ideal room temperature for the 1-1/2 hour loaf raising? We live in a drafty farm house and I am wondering if using a heating pad under pan would help my loaves rise?

    Thanks for the great whole grain recipes.

    1. Hi Pen,

      My kitchen is about 65 degrees in the winter and that seems to be just right for a 1 1/2 hour rise on the breads. Be sure to keep an eye on the dough the first time you use your hot pad, it may end up being much warmer than you want and proof the dough quickly.

      Hope that helps! Zoë

  30. Thanks Jeff. i’ll try up to 4-5 hours for this recipe if needed later on, will try more recipes when i get back from visiting family. i’m using flours by king arthur, and the vital wheat gluten is by bobs red mill that’s all i can find locally. new question. can you reduce the salt in the original books recipes or only in the healthy book recipes? thank you for your patience. i look forward to experimenting more when life settles back down

  31. There are just 2 people in my home now; I made a half recipe of dough and would like to make 1/2# loaves instead of 1#. Any suggestions re: baking time, etc. King Arthur’s Flour recipes frequently call for a temperature of 190 for bread to be done. Can I use that for your bread also?

    1. Denise: We use 205 for lean doughs, and 185 for egg-enriched doughs. Our stuff is wetter.

      Baking time will be shorter with those little ones, maybe 20 minutes. Jeff

  32. One of my local markets here in Rochester, NY carries both a light rye flour and a dark rye flour. Any suggestions on which to use for your recipes?

    You probably hear this all the time but your books have really changed my life. I’m so loving the bread at home!

    1. Hi Heidi,

      The dark rye is the one that we tested the recipes with. What brand of rye are you finding at your market?

      Thank you, Zoë

  33. I have been making a whole grain rye, and LOVING it. 3 cups whole spelt, 4 cups rye (given by a friend, I think it’s dark), and a scant 3T of xanthan gum. It finally rose! I need about an extra 1/4 to 1/3 cup of water (turns out xanthan gum really needs water).
    My question: How long can I cook it before killing it? I’ve had incredibly delicious, but gummy loaves. I cooked the last one at 500 for an hour, and it was still a little sticky inside. It was large, maybe 1.5#…

    1. Hi Stephanie,

      Baking the loaf at 500 degrees for an hour should be ample time to cook the loaf through. It sounds like you may need to dry up the dough a bit by adding a little more spelt. This is a classic issue with stored dough that doesn’t have the added vital wheat gluten. I think you will have success with the xanthan, but it may require a little more experimenting.

      Thanks and I look forward to hearing more! Zoë

  34. Hi,
    I have been loving the healthy bread in five cookbook and I just bought your original cookbook. Slight dilema- which book should I bake Pumpernickel from. (traditional bavarian style or just plain old pumpernickel) thanks guys. You truly are the best!

    1. Hi John,

      The recipe from ABin5 is a touch darker in color, but lighter is texture than the pumpernickel in HBin5.

      Hope that helps?

  35. Thanks, Zoe. I forgot to add that I’ve been putting in a Tablespoon of sugar after reading that helps Spelt rise better.
    Do you think I shouldn’t be adding the extra water, then? The dough seems dry unless I do. But maybe that’s okay?


  36. I am trying to make my own caramel coloring. When I add the 1/4 cup of boiling water to the caramel it never dissolves. Am I doing something wrong?

    1. John: I would guess that you’re going a bit to long (or hot) with the boil-down process. If it concentrates too much, and caramelizes too much, it will be difficult to dissolve because you have very hard rock candy that may be beginning to burn. Go a little easier on the heating, and for a shorter time and see what happens.

      Also, any chance you’re just not giving it enough time to dissolve? Lower the heat and maybe let it go longer after the water is added. Jeff

  37. Just bot your book and studying it before I get into the “doing”. Question, I’m here in Canada and currently use Instant Yeast (or rapid rise) for my bread making. Can I use this kind – cannot find answer in book. (My bread ingredients include 5 cups flour & 2 Tbsp Instant yeast, takes approx. 45 min 1st rise and approx. same or bit less for 2nd = 3 loaves). Also my hubby has sweet tooth so I use 2 Tbsp honey. Can I add this to the basic (or WWheat) receipes?

  38. I apologize if you just answered this question but I can’t find it. I’m looking for a light whole wheat dough, about 50 % whole wheat, 50 % white. I do not see one in your new book. Can you help me?

    1. Hi Nina,

      What kind of bread are you interested in? One with that is crusty or a softer loaf for sandwiches? In ABin5 we have a loaf called Whole Wheat Sandwich bread on page 78 that is about 50/50. Other than the master recipe in HBin5 the recipes tend to be more whole grains than AP flour.

      Thanks, Zoë

  39. The sandwich bread is great but I would love a crusty bread with a 50/50 grain ratio. If I just knew how much gluten and how much water it would need I’d be ready to go.

  40. Nina: Which book are you working out of? Will be easier for us to advise you if we can point you to pages in the books. Jeff

  41. I don’t usually complain of cultural appropriation but could you at least mention that this american version is completely different from an actual german pumpernickel?
    Pumpernickel is black, not brown. It does not have crust. It is quite dense, probably the only kind of bread that does not float in water. It has a characteristic bitter-sweet aftertaste created by a Maillard reaction during baking.

    Pumpernickel is not made from flour, certainly not from wheat flour, but from coarse-grained rye meal.
    Gluten, caraway, coloring, cocoa and coffee all don’t belong in pumpernickel. Molasses and yeast maybe (though not originally).

    Actually you cannot really make it at home at all, it requires a complicated process, including baking for 24 hours.

    1. Yep, thanks Karl. Our recipes are definitely adaptations of breads from around the world, changed so that they’re plausible to create in home kitchens.

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