Bavarian Pumpernickel (Devil’s Fart Bread)

September 4, 2009 | 20 Comments

We’re in the “uncooking” phase – trying to eat at least 50% raw and turning on the stove as infrequently as we can get away with.
Of late, we pretty much buy breads and if we do venture to make one ourselves, it better taste as intense and spectacular as this one. Some of the world’s heartiest, tastiest breads come from Germany, made by hand with whole grains in wood-fired brick ovens. This one is a prime example.
Bread has the power to relate a story, transmitting cultural worldviews from generation to generation. This “black bread of Westphalia”, better known as “Bavarian pumpernickel“, has a long history and got its first written mention in 1450.

Bavarians love their white sausage (weisswurst), their beer (162 litres per person a year), and their black breads.
Pumpernickel literally means “devil’s fart“.
The Philologist Johann Christoph Adelung states about the Germanic origin of the word, in the vernacular, Pumpen was a New High German synonym for being flatulent, a word similar in meaning to the English “fart”, and “Nickel” was a form of the name Nicholas, an appellation commonly associated with a goblin or devil (e.g., “Old Nick”, a familiar name for Satan), or more generally for a malevolent spirit or demon. Cf. also the metal nickel, probably named for a demon that would “change” or contaminate valuable copper with this strange metal that was much harder to work. Hence, pumpernickel is described as the “devil’s fart”, a definition accepted by the Stopes International Language Database,[2] the publisher Random House,[3] and by some English language dictionaries, including the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.[4] The American Heritage Dictionary adds “so named from being hard to digest.” (Source)
The devil’s fart comes with a list of health benefits and aids weight loss.
Rye has less gluten and more fibre than wheat. Unlike wheat fibre, rye fibre also exists in the grain’s endosperm and is rich in noncellulose polysaccharides, which have exceptionally high water-binding capacity. It makes one feel full a lot faster. The lignins in the bran have probiotic benefits and lower the pH of the colon, making it, some argue, a better quality of fiber than wheat or oats.
From an environmental perspective, rye (secale cereale) is able to survive in a variety of terrain under harsh, low-water conditons.
We’ve posted American Pumpernickel made in the Jewish tradition and that is an entirely different animal from this bread.
The American version uses colouring agents (like coffee, cocoa powder and and molasses), commercial yeast, wheat flour in addition to rye, and has a short baking span at high heat in the form of round loaf.
The German original has a deep dark colour that comes from exclusively using rye. It uses a sourdough starter as well as old bread (altus), and is supposed to be as dense as a brick. It is traditionally baked at low temperature (250F) for between 16 to 24 hours in a closed loaf pan with a lid. That gives it almost no crust and a very rich, intense flavour. It is meant to be sliced thin and eaten with soups or cheeses.
Peter Reinhart‘s recipe from Whole Grain Breads that we used has both sourdough starter and commercial yeast and has a shorter baking time, but the result was fabulous.
For the altus (old bread soaked in water), we used another rye bread – Swedish Limpa.
This is a very involved four-stage process, but SO WORTH IT.

(Makes 1 large loaf)
Using the altus is optional, but it adds a wonderful layer of flavour and texture.
Cover 1 cup of 1/2 inch bread cubes (preferably rye, but whole wheat works) with about 1/2 cup hot water and leave at room temperature for 4 hours minimum or overnight. You can use toasted bread, in case you may need a little more water to soak and soften it. When ready to use, squeeze out the extra water.
It’s the same as this recipe, but substitute whole (dark) rye flour instead of whole wheat.
120 grams (4.25 oz) – whole (dark) rye flour, preferably coarse grind
300 grams (10.6 oz) – filtered or spring water
1 gram (.03 oz) – half tsp – sprouted wheat flour or diastatic malt (optional)
All the altus (optional)
Preheat the oven to 200 F (93 C)
Heat the water to 165 F (74 C) in an ovenproof saucepan, take off the heat and whisk in the flour and diastatic malt. Make a paste similar to a thin pudding. Adjust water if you need to.
Turn down oven to lowest setting. Ours is 175 F. Switch it off and put the mash in, covered. Leave it for 10 minutes, take it out, heat the oven again for 10 minutes, turn it off. Repeat this five times.
Leave the mash in for another 2 hours after the oven is turned off.
If your oven’s lowest setting is 150 F (66 C), or if it has a ‘warm setting’ that is this temperature or lower, leave it on and keep the mash in for an hour, then turn it off and keep the mash in for another 2 hours.
If you plan to use the mash within 24 hours, leave it out. Otherwise refrigerate and use after bringing it to room temperature. The mash can be frozen for 3 months.
Mix them together in a bowl for a minute until the ingredients form a ball of dough. If you need more water or flour, add them a teaspoon at a time.
Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and leave it at room temperature for 12-24 hours. (Or refrigerate beyond that for up to 3 days, bring to room temperature and use.)
71 grams (2.5 oz) – 6 tbsp – stiff whole rye (or wheat) sourdough starter
213 grams (7.5 oz) – about 1 and 2/3 cups – whole rye flour, preferably coarse grind
170 grams (6 oz) – 0.75 cup – filtered or spring water at room temperature
Mix them together in a bowl for a minute until the ingredients form a ball of dough. Knead for about 2 minutes. The dough will be tacky. If you need more water or flour, add them a teaspoon at a time. Rest for 5 minutes, knead with wet hands for a minute until the dough is smooth. A bit tacky is okay. It will absorb moisture as it sits.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap or a lid and leave at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours. The dough should nearly double in size and have a pleasantly acidic aroma like apple cider vinegar. If you test it with pH paper, it should register between 3.5 and 4.0.
Degas by kneading very gently.
This dough can be refrigerated for upto 3 days and used after bringing back to room temperature.
Cook 1/2 cup whole rye berries (or substitute with whole wheat grains/barley/brown rice) with 1.5 cups water until cooked, then drain excess water.
We need 1 cup cooked grains at room temperature.
All the Mash
Starter – chopped or pinched into 12 pieces
255 grams (9 oz) – whole rye flour (2 cups)
cooked rye berries (1 cup / 6 oz.)
14 grams (0.5 oz) – about 1 and 3/4 tsp salt
7 gms (0.25 oz) – 2.25 tsps – instant yeast
14 grams (0.5 oz) – 1.5 tbsps – cocoa powder (we didn’t use it)
extra whole rye flour for adjustments
Knead everything well for 5-7 by hand minutes until you have a not-too-sticky dough. Form into a ball, let it rest covered with a kitchen towel for 5 minutes and knead for another minute. Add tbsp of flour or a tsp of water at a time to adjust the consistency if you need to.
If using a mixer, knead until it just comes together, and then knead by hand. Dust your palms liberally with flour. Knead until the dough feels like firm, damp clay.
Preheat the oven to 400 F (204 C) with a rack in the middle.
Roll the dough into a ball and swirl it around an oiled bowl to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and and let it rise for 20 minutes – it will just begin to show signs of swelling.
Transfer the dough to a slightly floured work surface and shape into a loaf. You can use a regular loaf pan with a cookie sheet on top or a Pullman pan with a lid.
Oil the loaf pan well on all sides and corners (I like to put parchment paper at the bottom and up the sides too.) Place the loaf in the pan (it will probably fill it to the top. Sprinkle with rye flour on the top. Mist it lightly with water and invert a cookie sheet on top. (Or use the Pullman pan with the lid). Do not let it rise any more.
Put the covered loaf on a baking sheet.
Reduce the oven temperature to 375F (191C) and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the loaf carefully from the loaf pan and transfer to the sheet pan (if it holds its shape, else put it back in the loaf pan for a few more minutes). Bake the loaf for another 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the loaf every 7 to 8 minutes to place a different side facing down, including the top. The idea is to caramelise and crisp the loaf evenly on all sides.
It should should hollow when tapped at the bottom and register at least 200F in the centre.
Allow it to cool for 3 hours before wrapping in aluminum foil or eating. It tastes better as it gets older.
This bread goes to:
Susan @ Wild Yeast for YeastSpotting
and for A Wordly Epicurean’s Delight @ Kitchen Chronicles where the theme is German.

CLICK: Heirloom
Event Details HERE
Photographer: Bee
Camera: Canon 300D
Lens: 100 mm
Shutter speed: 1/10 sec
ISO Speed: 100
F-stop: f/5.6

DEADLINE: Sep. 30, 2009
A simple truly scrumptious meal where home-made bread meets organic artisanal cheese and some garden veggies – that’s how our ancestors ate.
2 slices Bavarian pumpernickel
Make sure you use the crust. Not only is it more flavourful, it’s much more nutritious than the crumb.
Using a conventional sourdough mixture containing rye and wheat flour, Hofmann and his associates analyzed bread crust, bread crumbs (the pale softer part of the bread) and flour for antioxidant content and activity. They found that the process of baking bread produced a novel type of antioxidant, called pronyl-lysine, that was eight times more abundant in the crust than in the crumb. The compound was not present in the original flour. (Source)
A slice of organic artisanal cheese
Artisan/al cheeses are handmade, usually by small local producers. While there is no such thing as cruelty-free dairy (short of buying your own cow and treating her well), you can ensure that your source of dairy products is certified “humane”.
(To understand what happens to dairy cows in factory farms, read THIS POST or watch the film Our Daily Bread.)
Sprinkle some cracked black pepper on the cheese.
Organic tomatoes and lettuces from the garden
Don’t forget the beer.

The Devil’s Fart Sandwich is also our entry for Monthly Mingle: Heirloom.
– bee and jai
Filed Under: artisanal, Dairy/Cheese, germany, heirloom, Lettuces, Peter Reinhart, pumpernickel, Romaine, Rye, sandwich, Tomato, vegan recipes, vegetarian recipes, Whole Grain Breads, whole grains, whole rye flour

RosaSeptember 5, 2009 at 3:27 am
A fabulous bread! Yours looks very good!
LakshmiSeptember 5, 2009 at 7:09 pm
Healthy bread and it looks good esp sandwich 🙂
sunitaSeptember 6, 2009 at 1:09 am
Gorgeous bread and yummy sandwich 🙂
MiaSeptember 6, 2009 at 1:18 pm
I just love these dense wholesome breads,and pumpernickle is a very old favorite of mine which I did not get to taste in quite a while and miss..I am now tempted to consider atttempting this great recipe..!Thank you for such an informative post!
shobaSeptember 9, 2009 at 3:51 pm
A lovely bread . I have a Bavarian friend and hopefully, will visit him someday. Need to note this in my list of things to partake…
Susan/Wild YeastSeptember 10, 2009 at 10:16 am
I didn’t know that word origin. Hm, I’ll never look at pumpernickel bread the same way again. I baked a very hefty rye loaf this week with the intention of using a part of it as altus, so I’m really happy to see this — it’s lovely, despite the name.
YeastSpotting September 11, 2009 | Wild YeastSeptember 11, 2009 at 12:03 am
[…] Bavarian Pumpernickel (Devil’s Fart Bread) […]
Madam ChowSeptember 11, 2009 at 7:18 am
I’ll never look at this bread the same way again! I love the story behind it, and the photo of that sandwich is mouth-watering.
BarmSeptember 13, 2009 at 6:04 am
Westphalia and Bavaria are two completely different regions of Germany, so it can’t be Westphalian and Bavarian at the same time. Actually, lighter bread made of a mix of wheat and rye is more popular in Bavaria. Pumpernickel and other whole-grain breads are more associated with northern Germany in general.
jai beeSeptember 14, 2009 at 7:15 am
thanks for your insights. the westphalian allusion is probably to the fact that the earliest mention of this type of bread was made in 1450 as ‘dark bread from Westphalia’.
RupaSeptember 15, 2009 at 10:17 am
Looks great! Not sure if baking is my thing…In any case, I had heard on an old PBS cooking show that pumpernickel came from the french words “pain pour Nicole” meaning bread for Nicole. The story goes that Napolean and his cousing went to Germany (terrible at history, trying to remember how it goes) with their horse named Nicole. They were used to the soft french bread. So to them, the dark, hard bread they got in Germany was good for the horse, not for humans! Hence the name “pain pour Nicole”! I believed it, it made sense to me but may be I am just gullible 🙂
Lakshmi VenkateshSeptember 16, 2009 at 9:34 pm
Looks superb and a very nice write up. Thks for the entry.
JoanneSeptember 17, 2009 at 4:04 am
I love all of the background history you gave in your entry. It is so true – behind every bread, there is a good story to go along with it. I want to start baking my own breads and just need to gain enough momentum to do so. Your bread, in all of its glory, has definitely given me a push in the right direction. Great entry into the Monthly Mingle!
KarineSeptember 17, 2009 at 6:14 pm
Both recipes look delicious! thanks for sharing 🙂
Monthly Mingle: Heirloom (Roundup) | jugalbandiSeptember 22, 2009 at 9:58 pm
[…] Bavarian Pumpernickel (Devil’s Fart Bread) […]
Fearless KitchenSeptember 23, 2009 at 7:54 am
I’ve always been a little intimidated by making the German-style breads, the kind that have to bake for so long. I just can’t see my husband tolerating that, although maybe in the winter he’d be okay…. This looks delicious!
JoanneSeptember 23, 2009 at 7:51 pm
Thank you so much for hosting! I love the name of this bread, it will make me laugh for days to come. Although it’s deliciousness is no laughing matter. Perfect for the sandwich that you made!
JackieSeptember 26, 2009 at 6:28 pm
Love your bavarian pumpernickel bread. You should submit it to the bread contest on my site. The winner gets a $179 Super Bread bread knife from New West Knifeworks. You can get more info here:
Let me know if you’re interested. All I need is a photo of your bread (for voting) and the link to your recipe.
CLICK: Heirloom. The winners are … | jugalbandiOctober 7, 2009 at 11:52 am
[…] Bavarian Pumpernickel (Devil’s Fart Bread) […]
Steve VandeverOctober 31, 2009 at 6:42 pm
Um Himmel’s willen! Das hort mich gut an!