Top | Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread

Raisin-Pumpernickel Bread with a Secret

(recipe, Crescent Dragonwagon)

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  1. 3½ cups lukewarm spring water (substitute leftover vegetable-cooking water or vegetable stock, if available; see Note)
  2. 1¼ Tbsp. active dry yeast
  3. 3 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
  4. 1½ Tbsp. instant coffee crystals (see Note)
  5. 3 Tbsp. good-quality pure cocoa powder
  6. ¼ cup blackstrap molasses
  7. 2½ cups rye flour, preferably dark rye flour
  8. 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  9. 1½ cups raisins
  10. ½ cup semisweet chocolate morsels
  11. ¼ cup mild vegetable oil, such as corn or peanut
  12. 1 Tbsp. salt
  13. 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, approximately
  14. Cornmeal, for sprinkling on baking sheets
  15. 1 egg, beaten
  16. Raspberry preserves (optional)


  1. In a large glass or stainless-steel bowl, combine the lukewarm water, yeast, and brown sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes, then whisk in the coffee crystals, cocoa powder, and molasses. Add the rye and whole-wheat flours, and beat hard 100 strokes, using a wooden spoon. The dough should be the consistency of thick mud. Stir in the raisins and chocolate chips, cover with a clean cloth, and, says George, "Go take a hike."
  2. After your hike (or 60 minutes later), return to the dough and stir in the oil and salt. When these have been thoroughly incorporated, begin kneading in the white flour. Some might stir in the first few cups and then start kneading in the remainder, but, says George, "I just dump it in and go at it." Knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes, until all the flour has been incorporated, or until it is somewhat elastic. ("Given," George adds, "that it has those raisins and chips in it.") When it is properly kneaded, you'll be able to peel the dough off your fingers.
  3. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and let it rise, covered with a clean cloth, until doubled in bulk, 40 to 60 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to a work surface and divide it into quarters. Form each quarter into a large flattened ball. Sprinkle an ungreased baking sheet lightly with cornmeal, and place all the dough balls on it. Let the breads rise, covered, until again doubled, 30 to 45 minutes, "depending on the gods." George leaves the bread unslashed.
  5. Towards the end of this rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Brush the tops of the loaves with the beaten egg. ("I just slather it on with my fingers," says George. "I used to use egg beaters and brushes and all that fancy stuff — but I don't bother with that anymore, and it still tastes perfect and looks perfect when it's done.")
  7. Bake until fragrant, for exactly 38 minutes, assuming your oven is accurate. George thinks most people overcook their bread and get it too dry. Serve with raspberry preserves, if desired.


Culinate editor's notes: I proof the yeast with 2½ cups of warm water, then add 1 cup of strong coffee where it calls for coffee crystals. I also double the amount of chocolate chips to 1 cup.