Recipe summary

Hands-on time:
25 mins.
Baking time:
40 mins.
Total time:
5 hrs 5 mins.
Yield:
1 loaf, 16 servings
This easy-to-slice rye bread (no crumbling!) is perfect for sandwiches: pastrami, corned beef, a Reuben, or just plain grilled Swiss. It also makes tasty toast, a nice accompaniment to scrambled eggs. Its secret ingredient is dill pickle juice, which gives the bread delightful tang and contributes to its moist texture.

Our guarantee: This bread will be moist, fine-grained, and easy to slice, with assertive flavor typical of rye bread: caraway and a touch of sharp mustard, with a mildly sour tang. It's not a high-riser, but should be about 4" to 4 1/2" tall at the center when done.
Volume Ounces Grams

  • 1 1/2 packets "highly active" active dry yeast; or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast; or 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2/3 cup to 7/8 cup lukewarm water*
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup dill pickle juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dill seeds
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds OR 1 tablespoon prepared Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 cup instant mashed potato flakes or 1/4 cup potato flour
  • 2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
  • 1 1/3 cups pumpernickel
  • *Use the lesser amount in summer (or in a humid environment), the greater amount in winter (or in a dry climate), and somewhere in between the rest of the year, or if your house is climate controlled.

Directions

  1. 1) Dissolve the yeast in 2 tablespoons of the lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes, till it becomes puffy. If you're using instant yeast, you can skip this step.
  2. 2) Combine the dissolved yeast (or instant yeast) with the remaining ingredients, and mix till clumps form; the dough may seem dry at this point. Let it rest for 20 minutes, for the flour to start to absorb the liquid.
  3. 3) Knead the dough—by mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—to make a stiff, but fairly smooth dough. It'll take about 7 minutes in a stand mixer at second speed, using the dough hook. The dough should clean the sides of the bowl; if it doesn't sprinkle in a bit more all-purpose flour. We don't recommend kneading this dough by hand, as it's hard to develop the gluten sufficiently. If you DO knead by hand, realize that the dough will take longer to rise, and won't rise as high.
  4. 4) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise till it's puffy, about 1 to 2 hours. It may or may not have doubled in bulk, but it definitely will have expanded.
  5. 5) Gently deflate the dough, and shape it into a log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan (for a stiffer dough), or 9" x 5" loaf pan (for a slacker dough). Press it to the edges of the pan, and flatten the top.
  6. 6) Tent the pan with greased plastic wrap, and allow the loaf to rise till it's crowned about 1" to 1 1/2" over the edge of the pan, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  7. 7) Bake the bread for 20 minutes. Tent it lightly with foil, and bake for an additional 20 minutes. When done the bread will be golden brown, and its internal temperature will register 190°F on an instant-read thermometer.
  8. 8) Remove the bread from the oven, wait 5 minutes, remove it from the pan, and allow it to cool completely on a rack before slicing. Store for up to a week at cool room temperature.

Tips from our bakers

  • Homemade rye bread can be quite a challenge; if you're a beginning bread baker, please become familiar with the bread-baking process by trying a simpler loaf (like our White Sandwich Bread) before tackling this one.
  • Substitute white or medium rye flour for the pumpernickel, if desired.
  • This bread has a sensitive liquid-flour ratio. The finished dough should be smooth and easy to handle; it shouldn't be sticky. If it's sticky, understand that the rising times may be shorter; a slacker (stickier) dough usually rises faster than one that's stiffer.
  • We've baked this successfully in both an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan, and a 9" x 5" loaf pan. If your dough is at all sticky, we recommend using the larger size pan.
  • For a wonderfully close-grained, square-corner sandwich loaf, press the dough into a 9" x 4" pain de mie pan. Bake the loaf as directed, removing the cover and tenting loosely with foil for the final 15 minutes of baking.
  • This is a great place to use your "discard" sourdough starter. Substitute up to 8 ounces starter for an equal weight of bread flour/water; e.g., substitute 6 ounces starter for 3 ounces water and 3 ounces bread flour. The starter will give the bread subtle tang.