How to Make Pumpernickel Bread | Flour, Water, Salt, No Leavening

Baking pumpernickel had been on my projects list for years. I always hesitated because the internet was full of various recipes using many different methods, so it was hard to tell what is real and what isn’t. You know that I don’t care too much for sticking to tradition, but I wanted to make this one right.

Recently I read Stanley Ginsberg’s ‘The Rye Baker’, a book that every rye bread enthusiast should definitely consider reding. It’s not only full of valuable information regarding the principles of rye bread baking, but it also contains lots of rye bread recipes from all over the world. You can find it in my Amazon store.

Almost at the very end of the book is a recipe for Westphalian pumpernickel. The short description mentions that real pumpernickel must not contain anything else but rye, salt, and water. That immediately piqued my interest. I had never made an unleavened loaf of bread. And the fact that the ever-elusive pumpernickel had turned out to be as basic as this was quite surprising to me.

Another surprise was the rye required for the recipe. It is not rye flour, rather it is rye meal or cracked rye. Flour is milled fine while cracked rye is essentially just coarsely broken up rye grain.

On my first attempt I tried using wholegrain rye flour instead – it did not work at all.

Get yourself a bag of cracked rye and all will be good. You’ll end up with an incredibly flavourful and extremely dense bread that will last weeks if you don’t devour it too quickly.

There is a price to pay though. Between scalding the rye, baking the bread, and maturing it until it is ready to be sliced can take 60 – 88 hours! Scalding takes 12 – 16 hours, baking (steaming, really) takes 24 hours at a very low temperature, and maturing takes 24 to 48 hours.

On the upside, hands-on time is extremely minimal as all you must do is mix the scald, mix the dough, press it into a baking tin and that’s it.

This loaf will fit into a 900g (2lb) loaf tin even though the total weight of the dough is almost 1.9kg (4.2lb)

Watch the video down below for detailed instructions.


For the scald

750g (1.65lb) cracked rye

770g (1.69lb) boiling water

12g (0.42oz) salt

For the main dough –

350g (0.77lb) cracked rye


For the bread spice –

8g (0.28oz) anise seed

8g (0.28oz) coriander seed

8g (0.28oz) fennel seed

10g (0.35oz) caraway seed

Toast and grind. Add to the scald.


  1. Make the scald. In a large bowl combine the salt and boiling water. Mix to dissolve the salt. Add the cracked rye and mix until all of it is hydrated. Cover and leave for 12 – 16 hours.
  2. Make the dough. Add the remaining cracked rye to the scald and mix thoroughly.
  3. Press the dough into a greased baking tin ensuring it reaches all the edges and corners. Smooth out the surface. Brush with oil and cover with baking paper and a lid or aluminium foil.
  4. Place the tin in a cold oven. Switch it on to 150C (300F) fan off and leave to heat up for 1 hour.
  5. Turn the temperature down to 105C (220F) and leave to bake for another 23 hours.
  6. Remove the loaf from the tin and leave to cool down for a few hours.
  7. Wrap in plastic and leave to mature for 24 – 48 hours.

Slice as thinly as you can and enjoy!

Watch The Video Here

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