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Raisin-Pumpernickel Bread with a Secret

From the book Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread by
Yield 4 loaves

Culinate editor’s note: I confess that I bought the Dairy Hollow cookbook for this recipe alone. A friend brought me a loaf after the birth of my son, which I wolfed down slice by slice, hunkered over the toaster. I have since made this bread many times and everyone I share a loaf with loves it — especially my kids. Though it’s good right after it’s baked, I actually prefer it a few days old, toasted. Toast it under the broiler, not the toaster (unless it’s a toaster oven), otherwise you’re in for a mess with the melted chocolate chips.

Author Crescent Dragonwagon credits this bread to Katie and George Hoy, innkeepers of The Inn at Brandywine Falls, in Sagamore Hills, Ohio.

Ingredients

cups lukewarm spring water (substitute leftover vegetable-cooking water or vegetable stock, if available; see Note)
Tbsp. active dry yeast
3 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
Tbsp. instant coffee crystals (see Note)
3 Tbsp. good-quality pure cocoa powder
¼ cup blackstrap molasses
cups rye flour, preferably dark rye flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
cups raisins
½ cup semisweet chocolate morsels
¼ cup mild vegetable oil, such as corn or peanut
1 Tbsp. salt
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, approximately
~ Cornmeal, for sprinkling on baking sheets
1 egg, beaten
~ Raspberry preserves (optional)

Steps

  1. In a large glass or stainless-steel bowl, combine the lukewarm water, yeast, and brown sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes, then whisk in the coffee crystals, cocoa powder, and molasses. Add the rye and whole-wheat flours, and beat hard 100 strokes, using a wooden spoon. The dough should be the consistency of thick mud. Stir in the raisins and chocolate chips, cover with a clean cloth, and, says George, “Go take a hike.”
  2. After your hike (or 60 minutes later), return to the dough and stir in the oil and salt. When these have been thoroughly incorporated, begin kneading in the white flour. Some might stir in the first few cups and then start kneading in the remainder, but, says George, “I just dump it in and go at it.” Knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes, until all the flour has been incorporated, or until it is somewhat elastic. (“Given,” George adds, “that it has those raisins and chips in it.”) When it is properly kneaded, you’ll be able to peel the dough off your fingers.
  3. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and let it rise, covered with a clean cloth, until doubled in bulk, 40 to 60 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to a work surface and divide it into quarters. Form each quarter into a large flattened ball. Sprinkle an ungreased baking sheet lightly with cornmeal, and place all the dough balls on it. Let the breads rise, covered, until again doubled, 30 to 45 minutes, “depending on the gods.” George leaves the bread unslashed.
  5. Towards the end of this rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Brush the tops of the loaves with the beaten egg. (“I just slather it on with my fingers,” says George. “I used to use egg beaters and brushes and all that fancy stuff — but I don’t bother with that anymore, and it still tastes perfect and looks perfect when it’s done.”)
  7. Bake until fragrant, for exactly 38 minutes, assuming your oven is accurate. George thinks most people overcook their bread and get it too dry. Serve with raspberry preserves, if desired.

Notes

Culinate editor’s notes: I proof the yeast with 2½ cups of warm water, then add 1 cup of strong coffee where it calls for coffee crystals. I also double the amount of chocolate chips to 1 cup.

This content is from the book Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread by Crescent Dragonwagon.

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