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Difference Between Rye bread and Pumpernickel bread

breadRye bread vs Pumpernickel bread

The difference between rye breads and pumpernickel bread can be a big source of confusion for both bread bakers and restaurant goers alike as they are commonly used interchangeably in many eating places as well as bakeries. It’s not rare for someone to order for one kind of bread and be served completely a different type. Rye breads are of three forms; light rye, dark and marbled rye bread.

Light rye bread is made with the white rye flour made by grinding the rye berry’s center endosperm. The ground flour will not contain any of the outer seed coat, the bran or the germ so it will be fairly light in color as well as the bread made from it. For the dark rye bread, there are two ways that it can be made. The first one is exactly the way light rye is made but with coloring and some flavoring added like cocoa powder and molasses. The second way, which also seems to be more agreed upon as authentic, is where a different grind of rye flour than light is used. The flour is milled from the rye berry’s endosperm which is the part that contains more coloring pigments. The flour is usually ground more coarsely too. The marble rye bread is simply a mixture of light and dark rye dough rolled together. Because they have almost the same density, light and dark rye form a uniform mixture when baked together.

As for the pumpernickel bread, it is made from a kind of flour known as pumpernickel flour made from coarsely ground rye berries. In certain particular recipes, crumbs from other rye breads can be added to the pumpernickel bread dough. Pumpernickel bread loaves are usually dense and dark with strong flavoring. The flavoring is due to the fact that pumpernickel bread is usually steam baked at a low heat for over two hours, during which time flavors are formed in the bread and the natural sugar in the rye will darken and sweeten because of the long slow baking. It’s worth knowing that almost all rye breads have some amount of wheat flour added to their dough since rye does not contain gluten-producing proteins, thus it may not produce an edible loaf when used without wheat flour.

1.  Regular rye breads are made from endosperm ground flour while pumpernickel is from whole berry ground flour.
2. The flour for making pumpernickel is coarsely ground while that for rye is not coarse.
3. Pumpernickel bread tends to be darker and more strongly flavored than regular rye breads.
4. Pumpernickel bread is also more sweetened than regular rye breads due to the long slow baking over low heat.

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  1. THANK YOU, for this truly informative explanation between the two types of breads. I was watching The Great British Bake-Off yesterday and they were tasked with making 18 identical Rye Rolls. I favour Pumpernickel vs. Rye and as you stated, quite often when I request Pump, I end up with Rye in a restaurant, instead.

    Well written and I love the summary at the end; I feel as if I could take a test and pass it, now. 😀

  2. Why is pumpernickel bread suggested over rye if it has more sweetener. I just bought pumpernickel because I’m pre diabetic

    • Pumpernickel does, indeed, have a low glycemic index (GI) that prevents your blood sugar from significantly spiking up following a meal. It helps effectively reduce blood sugar levels and thus is particularly suited to diabetic patients.

  3. on what planet does rye not contain gluten?? wheat, rye and barley, on this planet all contain gluten but wheat the most and barley the least

    In the US and no doubt canada, standardization of terms for rye flours are not fixed, one mill may mean one thing and other mills, other %’s of this or that may vary.

    and since rye flours are less and less available to the average grocery shopper, we must find our sources and ask/research/call the mill itself.

    we do have an actual mill about 100+ miles away, old mill at guilford (website), a bit far to drive, i prefer an amish general store, 60 miles away.

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