Homemade Pumpernickel Bread

Homemade pumpernickel bread

The Spruce / Teena Agnel

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Total: 65 mins
Servings: 32 servings
Yield: 2 loaves

This delicious pumpernickel bread is hearty and crusty, and it's a recipe you'll use again and again. The bread is prepared in two steps, and that's what gives it such great flavor. Though it takes extra rising time, it takes no more hands-on time than a typical yeast bread. This bread is guaranteed to get rave reviews from your family.

The recipe will make a little more than 4 pounds of dough, enough for two large standard loaves or free-form boule loaves. Or, make one loaf and several sandwich rolls.


  • For the Starter:
  • 4 1/2 cups/20 ounce bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons/13 ounces water (room temperature, 70 F to 75 F)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon bread flour (to sprinkle over the starter)
  • For the Remaining Dough:
  • 1 1/2 cups/12 ounces water (room temperature, 70 F to 75 F)
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 cups/13 1/2 ounces bread flour (plus more, as needed, for kneading)
  • 1/2 cup/2 ounces dark rye flour
  • 1/2 cup/2 1/4 ounces whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup/1 1/2 ounces cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not alkalinized, such as Hershey's)
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg (or egg white)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons water

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this pumpernickel bread is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and baking.

Make the Starter

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for starter
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  2. In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook, combine 4 1/2 cups of bread flour, 2 teaspoons of instant yeast, 13 ounces of water, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Mix by hand or with stand mixer and dough hook until a dough is formed.

    Add dry ingredients to a mixer
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  3. Knead by hand or with the dough hook, adding more flour if needed, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. 

    Knead by hand
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  4. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour over the dough and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

    Cover dough
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  5. Let stand to ferment for 4 hours. If not making bread right away, refrigerate for up to 2 days.

    Let stand
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

Make the Pumpernickel Bread

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for pumpernickel bread
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  2. To the starter dough, add the remaining ingredients except the egg and 1 to 2 teaspoons of water. Slowly blend until dough is formed.

    Ingredients in bowl
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  3. Knead by heavy-duty stand mixer with dough hook or by hand until smooth and elastic - about 10 minutes. Add more flour, as needed, to keep the dough from sticking to hands and surfaces.

    Knead with mixer
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  4. Oil a large bowl with vegetable oil.

    Oil a bowl
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  5. With floured hands, gather the dough and fold over a few more times.

    Gather dough
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  6. Form a nice smooth ball and put the dough ball in the oiled bowl. Turn to grease all sides of the dough ball.

    Form a ball
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  7. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the dough has doubled.

    Cover bowl
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  8. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. You'll have a little more than 4 pounds of dough, enough for two standard size loaves.

    Turn dough out
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  9. Shape into free-form loaves or rolls or shape to fit loaf pans.

    Shape into loaves
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  10. Cover the pan(s) loosely with a lightweight kitchen tea towel. Let the dough rise for about 45 minutes to an hour. Or, cover and refrigerate overnight. We like to do this for the beautiful bubbly crust it produces. 

    Cover the pans
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  11. When ready to bake, heat the oven to 425 F.

    Bake bread
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  12. Score the loaves (use a baker's lame or other similar razor blade tool), taking care not to deflate the bread. 

    Score the loaves
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  13. If desired, brush lightly with egg wash (1 egg or egg white whisked with a few teaspoons of water). An egg wash will give you a shiny crust.

    Brush lightly with egg wash
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  14. When you first put the bread in the oven to bake, mist the oven floor with a little water to create some steam. Do this several times over the first few minutes of baking time.

  15. Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, or until it registers 185 F to 190 F on an instant-read thermometer inserted (through the side) into the center of a loaf. For buns or rolls check around 20 minutes. The tops of loaves will be a warm golden brown. 

    Bake bread
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  16. Another way to test for doneness is to rap on the bottom of a loaf. It should sound hollow when the bread is done.

    Homemade pumpernickel
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel