Classic Pumpernickel Bread

star rating (18) rate this recipe »
whole grain
Recipe photo
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 16 servings

Recipe photo

Molasses and a tiny bit of cocoa powder give this bread its rich, dark color. This moist, dense-grained bread, with the texture of the popular imported pumpernickel you can buy in the gourmet food section of some stores, is perfect for slicing thinly and using as a base for canapes (chopped liver and onions or pickled herring come to mind). Spread with sweet butter, it's also a tasty accompaniment to cheese and fruit, and makes a superior sandwich. Just remember to slice it thinly; it's heavy, and a little goes a long way. Once you try this homemade pumpernickel, you'll never have to buy it at the supermarket again!

Classic Pumpernickel Bread

star rating (18) rate this recipe »
whole grain
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 16 servings
Published: 01/01/2010


  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon active dry or 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3 cups King Arthur pumpernickel flour
  • 1 cup King Arthur whole wheat flour, White or Traditional
  • 1 cup cooked, mashed potatoes

Tips from our bakers

  • You can mix this dough in a bread machine, but be aware you'll need to scrape the corners and sides of the bread machine's pan; the dough is very thick and doesn't move around a lot once it starts to come together. Just give it a little help with a rubber spatula from time to time, and the dough will be fine.
  • When made correctly, this is a very sticky dough. Grease or flour your hands very well before trying to work with it.


1. Combine 1 cup of water with the the cornmeal in a saucepan and cook over low heat until thick, stirring often (about 5 minutes). Remove the pan from heat and add the molasses, butter, salt, sugar, caraway seeds and cocoa powder. Stir to combine and set aside to cool to lukewarm.

2. Put the remaining 1/2 cup water in a large mixing bowl and add the yeast. If using active dry, stir and let the mixture "proof" for 10 minutes. If using instant, no waiting time is necessary.

3. Add the molasses mixture and mashed potatoes.

4. Stir in the pumpernickel and whole wheat flour. Mix and knead the dough at medium speed for 10 minutes.

5. After the dough is kneaded, it will look like this.

6. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl. Sprinkle the top with flour. Cover the bowl and let rise until the dough is not quite doubled; about 1 hour.

7. When the dough is risen, it will have expanded and you'll see cracks in the flour you sprinkled, like this.

8. Shape the dough into a loaf and place in a greased 8 1/2" by 4" loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with more flour or brush with a mixture of 1 egg white beaten with a tablespoon of water.

9. Slash the top in a decorative design, and bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 55 to 65 minutes, until the center measures 200°F when measured with an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the oven, tip out of the pan, and cool on a rack completely before slicing.

Nutrition information

Serving Size: 1 slice, 69g Servings Per Batch: 20 thin slices Amount Per Serving: Calories: 165 Calories from Fat: 17 Total Fat: 2g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 2mg Sodium: 208mg Total Carbohydrate: 28g Dietary Fiber: 7g Sugars: 3g Protein: 9g

* The nutrition information provided for this recipe is determined by the ESHA Genesis R&D software program. Substituting any ingredients may change the posted nutrition information.


1 2  All  
  • 02/16/2015
  • Michele from Caldwell
  • I am sensitive to whole wheat what can I substitute with
    You might try bread flour, or a recipe that's written for a gluten free pumpernickel style bread. Irene@KAF
  • star rating 02/15/2015
  • Julia from South Bend, IN.
  • I have been trying to find a recipe for good, old-world European black bread or pumpernickel that was both easy enough for me to make regularly (i.e., doesn't require five million different flours, seeds, etc.) and yet tastes great. I am so excited about this, and about KA pumpernickel flour! This is great, very easy (easier than many of the reviews make out) and, in spite of the fact that I didn't "fluff" the flour so probably used too much, it turned out really well! I will make this every week. LOVE IT! Dense, moist (I imagine my next loaf will be moister), and not difficult. I ended up letting it rise a bit longer and bake longer, but that has to do with the slight increase in flour and the lack of rise in the yeast (nothing to do with KA or KA products) as well as the weather. Awesome!
  • star rating 12/09/2014
  • hgreenberg from KAF Community
  • I absolutely loved this. When I brought it over to a friend and sliced it up for her, she remarked unprompted, "this would be great toasted with cream cheese." Bingo!
  • star rating 06/09/2014
  • Jennifer from Utah
  • This is one of my favorite bread recipes. It's exactly as described and it even comes out beautifully at my high altitude. Thank you!
  • star rating 06/08/2014
  • Jen from Utah
  • star rating 06/07/2014
  • JAINIE from KAF Community
  • Question please, can I use potato flour as a sub and can I use my new hearth loaf pan. Thank you. Rating stands on faith it will be as good as all the other recipes on your site..
    You can substitute 1/4 cup potato flour for the mashed potatoes, but you will also have to add additional water. This is the tricky part, since you'll want to match the dough consistency of the original recipe. You may want to make the recipe once with mashed potatoes to give you a better sense of how the dough should look and feel. It is a very tacky, wet dough. If you use your new hearth loaf pan you may want to make a larger batch to fit the longer pan. Multiplying all the ingredients by 1 1/2 should give you the right amount. Or you can make a longer, skinnier loaf that will bake more quickly. It may take around 40 minutes, but I would check after 30 and use an instant read thermometer as described in the recipe. This skinnier loaf will look more like a party pumpernickel loaf. And remember you can always call the Baker's Hotline at 855-371-2253 if you need pointers along the way. Barb@KAF
  • star rating 11/17/2013
  • edorine from KAF Community
  • Love this recipe! I used "grams" measuring instead of cups or ounces. Also, I coated my King Arthur scraper with a bit of oil so it was easy to take the dough out of the bowls. Also, I used a potato ricer instead of a masher to prepare the potatoes. Hopefully it's not beginner's luck because my loaf turned out perfectly!!!
  • star rating 10/26/2013
  • Susie from Anacortes, WA
  • Love this hearty bread! So easy to make and the chocolate addition adds amazing richness! I love this bread sliced thin and topped with cream cheese and sliced radishes, garnish with arugula. Since I love cheese, I sometimes add a little slice of Cabot 75% lite cheddar or swiss is good too. After reading some reviews I thought that I'd add that what helped me with the sticky goo dough, is to buy one of those flexible plastic bench knife things...(not sure what you call it). KAF sells cool ones and gives them away at their baking shows (or used to). It works like a dream. Bends with your bowl and scrapes easily. You can also dip the knife in either flour or oil and scoop out the dough that way. I had no problems sticking to me at all and yes, a bland oil works the best on your hands.
  • star rating 02/09/2013
  • piggysdream from KAF Community
  • Wow! To be honest this dough stressed me out. The list of expensive, good quality ingredients in this recipe is long and I figured being a K.A. Recipe I would have no worries. Having to stop the mixer and pry the dough from the sides bowl was not fun at all and they weren't kidding when they said grease or flour your hands well before trying to work with it. I didn't flour enough and it took a butter knife to get the dough off of my hands and no joke at least three minutes wash time before I grabbed a paper towel to remove the rest and then wash my hands again. Over all it was a tasty bread. I was so happy when I started the process (bread making is fun most of time) but in the end I was just stressed out, tired and disappointed =(
    I recommend trying oil next time: rye breads tend to be very sticky no matter the recipe: it's in the nature of rye! Oil will work much better as rye tends to absorb flour yet retain its sticky, difficult texture. I'm sorry it caused you so much distress, but I hope on your next rye adventure, you'll try the oil trick instead of more flour. Best, Kim@KAF

  • star rating 01/27/2013
  • barb from germantown, wi
  • mmmmmmmm! it was heavy, dense, moist and so much flavor. and VERY easy. i was thrown off because i didn't realize there wasn't a second rising so it did get to rise a little while the oven was heating. when i mixed up the batter it didn't look like the picture, it was more doughy, so i added a tablespoon of water and then it had the consistency like the picture. the finished product was very moist, almost a little too moist, wonder what would have happened if i hadn't added that tablespoon of water.
    Hi Barn! That extra bit of water likely made the dough a tad on the moist side when it finished baking. If the dough doesn't feel too stiff when you're mixing it, it should be perfectly fine to bake. Next time, if you notice that the bread feels a bit on the moist side, you can bake an additional 5 minutes or so to get it where you want it. Traditional pumpernickel can be quite moist, but there is flexibility with it! Feel free to call our Bakers Hotline if you have questions down the road. Best Kim@KAF Baker's Hotline: (802) 649-3717
1 2  All