Saturday 20 August 2011

CC Pumpernickel Rolls with Currants

When I saw the theme for the Cookbook Challenge was European a few weeks back (yes I am behind in my challenges), one recipe planted itself in my mind and refused to leave until it was made.  It is an old favourite that I have made a few times before.  I know it is a tricky one to make but fortunately I also know it is worth the effort to make Mollie Katzen's pumpkinickel rolls with raisins from Still Life with Menu.

Last weekend I finally had the rye flour and the time needed to make them.  I decided they would go nicely with a pot of split pea soup.  Fortunately I started early in the day as these took me 7 hours to make, plus a lot of hard work.  It took me a while to find rye flour, but I was more relaxed about the other ingredients which I usually have on hand.  Hence on the day of baking, I found that I was really low on yeast and found a packet that was a year out of date.  I also ran our of molasses and used treacle.  One change that I have always made is to use currants rather than raisins.

Sylvia wanted to help. and stirred (sloshed) while the going was easy but E helped distract her while I kneaded in the flour.  This is dough that is so stiff my wrist was hurting.  It is very different to my usual soft malleable olive oil dough.  In fact it is not at all pleasurable.  As I kneaded I thought about dough hooks and how pumpernickel bread was around long before anyone had considered them.  So why make a dough that is so stiff it hurts?  Maybe Mollie Katzen was using our light fluffy flours to imitate bread made by peasants who could only access hard recalcitrant flours.  Ah, you see, I had too much time to think as I kneaded.

The resulting rolls were excellent.  They were surprisingly soft, despite being very dense.  The texture was far more towards the cake end of the spectrum than most breads.  Best of all, the flavours were amazing.  This is why I keep returning to the recipe.  I first made the rolls to serve with a celery and stilton soup (I think).  Despite being slightly sweet (or too sweet if you are my mum) they have a bitter edge that makes them perfect for adding a bit of interest to a pot of soup.

Sylvia seemed to like the pumpkin rolls when I made them last weekend.  She ate one in the car on the way to an indoor play centre where we met my friend Jane and kids.  She also had one with her evening meal.  Then the next day she wasn't interested in them.  E wasn't so interested in them.  So I frozen most of them and had them with leftover soup for lunch during the week.  Now that is a fancy lunch!  They are so flavourful that I found they were great on their own for breakfast.

I highly recommend these if you want to impress or are looking for some bread that is very different to your fluffy white loaf.  However only make them if you have time and a bit of energy.

I am sending these to YeastSpotting, Susan's lovely weekly yeasty round up.  You can see what my fellow cookbook challengers got up to here.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Fitzroy Gardens with soup
This time two years ago: Potato boston bun
This time three years ago: Lemony Dressing for a Quinoa Salad
This time four years ago: Collingwood children’s farm – peppercorn trees and vegetarian hens

Pumpernickel rolls with currants
adapted from Mollie Katzen
Makes 16 rolls

1/3 cup semisweet choc chips
3 tbsp butter (or margarine for vegan version)
1 cup lukewarm water
2 packages yeast (I assumed these to be 7g each but some of mine was a year out of date)
1/2 cup molasses (or treacle)
1 cup raisins (I used currants)
1 tsp dried wattleseed (or coffee granules or postum)
1 generous tsp salt
2 cups rye flour
2 1/2 cups white bread flour
2-3 cups wholemeal flour (or thereabouts)

Melt choc chips and butter and let cool to room temperature.

Place lukewarm water, and yeast in a large bowl and let 5 minutes until it starts to frotth (my yeast was quite old but there was something happening - not so much frothing but more like the yeast film on the water separating to reveal a murky underneath with a little swirling - after 5 minutes so I went ahead with it).  Stir in molasses, raisins (or currants), wattleseed and salt.  Drizzle in chocolate.  Mix well. 

Stir in 2 cups rye flour and 1 cup of white flour.  It should be just stiff enough to knead if you have lots of flour - though it reminded me more of cake batter than bread dough.  Mine was so sticky it needed a lot of flour to be able to handle it - it would probably work better in a stand mixer with a dough hook if you have one.

Mollie says to knead in the rest of the white flour and as much of the wholemeal flour as you can.  I could only manage about half a cup of the wholemeal flour.  It took me over half an hour to mix in that much of the white and wholemeal flour and by then I was tired of kneading recalcitrant dough.  Once as much flour as possible is incorporated knead for 10 minutes (if you have any strength left in your arms - this isn't easy soft yielding dough - it resists every pummel).  It should be smooth and not sticky.

Place dough in bowl, cover with a dry clean tea towel and let rise in a warm place for about 3 hours or more (I left mine for 4).  The dough will only rise by about 3/4.  Cut dough into 16 pieces and roll each piece into a ball.  Sprinkle a large baking tray with cornmeal and place rolls on it at least 3 inches apart.  Cover and leave to rise for about 45 minutes.

While the rolls are rising, preheat oven to 375 F or 190 C.  When rolls have proved (or risen ever so slightly) bake for 30 minutes until they sound hollow when

On the Stereo:
Exotic Moog: Martin Denny


  1. Johanna, these look AMAZING! I know I say that a lot about your goodies, but phwoar!

  2. These sound interesting, rye flour is something I haven't baked with before. Might have to keep my eye out for some and give this a go.

  3. I've never made pumpernickel anything before but I love that you mixed currants into it! Great idea.

  4. These look absolutely amazing. The sad thing is, I suspect I'll never manage to make them because of the time requirements! Although with that said, if you can with a 3 year old (3?)...surely I can without. I'll save the recipe up for a long weekend.

  5. These look delicious Johanna, even if the dough was recalcitrant. I often assume I have an ingredient which, when I go to bake, I don't have or are low on!

  6. They look just perfect little buns. Love the colour and the texture inside ... I am drooling here!

  7. As soon as I saw these, they grabbed my attention. Love the idea of pumpernickel rolls. But when I read the recipe and saw they had chocolate in, I knew I had to make them - have bookmarked the recipe. Interesting that it's such a stiff dough. My rye sourdough is so wet, it can't be kneaded, only stirred. So am thinking I might just make my normal sourdough and add the extra ingredients - a loaf rather than buns. Will let you know when I get around to it, but get around to it I must.

  8. Thanks Hannah - I was proud of these because they are so unusual for me as well as hard work for me

    Thanks Mel - from time to time I get rye flour in my kitchen and quite enjoy it - but I don't see it around as much as some other flours

    Thanks Joanne - I think the balance of sweet and bitter works well in these - sort of like molasses!

    Thanks Kari - they are just so delicious if you can find the time but you do need a relaxing weekend (NB having a 2 and a half year old means I stay at home more than I sometimes might which makes it easier to bake in some ways)

    Thanks Cakelaw - I hate it when I am racing around and find I can't find something I was sure I had - but it makes me better at substituting

    Thanks Chele - yes, perfect!

    Thanks Choclette - of course these would appeal to your chocolate loving nature! I think the flavours are what I love so would be interested to hear how they go in a rye sourdough

  9. It looks like a really interesting recipe, odd how stiff the dough is, and that it makes a soft but dense roll. Yeast baking can be surprising!

    They look like a lovely accompaniment for soup.

  10. I'm truly in awe of your ability to create such gorgeous breads with yeast. Pumpernickel was always a favorite and I must admit I miss it. These look gorgeous. Glad they turned out so light despite the dough being so stiff!

  11. Pumpernickel over here is a very tight and slightly sweet (due to the addition of molasses) whole rye breat that comes in thin slices. Your rolls look lovely! :)

  12. These sound like the perfect rolls with their slight bitterness to have with soup. And I love how you describe their cake-like texture.


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