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Cathy Katin-Grazzini

Cathy’s Kitchen Prescription LLC


Raisin-Pumpernickel Sourdough Bread


When I was little, my father would travel across town to a old Jewish bakery in South Yonkers to pick up raisin pumpernickel bread and bialys for Sunday brunch. It’s been an eternity since I last enjoyed a slice, and I’m nowhere near an old Jewish bakery. So this is my whole grain sourdough version, It baked into a boule with a tight crumb, a lovely thin, crispy crust, chock full of plump juicy raisins, and robust flavor. Now you can enjoy it for your Sunday brunch too.


Helpful equipment

A digital scale, dough whisk, flexible curved dough scraper, 2-quart cast or enameled iron pot, parchment paper.


Prep time 8 hours to ferment the rye sponge plus 4 1/2 hours to mix the dough, have it rise and shape it

Bake time 65 minutes

Makes one 900 g/ 2-pound boule


Sourdough Sponge

150 g (about 1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon) ripe rye sourdough starter

125 ml (about 1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon) freshly brewed decaffeinated coffee

110 g (about 7/8 cup) whole rye flour



400 g (about 2 ½ cups) whole red wheat flour

200 ml (about 7/8 cup) non-chlorinated water

45 g (2 tablespoons) unsulfured blackstrap molasses

8 g (about 1 teaspoon) shiro (light) miso paste

80 g (a full ½ cup) raisins, rehydrated in hot water then drained

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary needles

All of the sourdough sponge


  • A day or two before, feed your rye sour mother dough so that it is active on the day your bake.The evening before you bake, mix the sponge ingredients in a medium bowl with a dough whisk or wooden spoon until well-integrated. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap, set on the counter, and allow to ferment overnight or for about 8 hours. 
  • The next day, use a larger bowl to mix the dough ingredients, adding the fermented sponge at the end. Cover and set on the counter for an hour. The dough will be pretty wet and sticky.
  • Gently stretch and fold the dough a few times, until the dough’s texture tightens. The elasticity and extensibility of the dough from its wheat gluten will be thwarted by the rye, so it will not stretch far before breaking. No worries if it does. Cover and allow to rise for another hour. The dough will swell about 50 percent and become lighter and airier.
  • Use a spray bottle to wet the surface of a large cutting board with non-chlorinated water. Using a curved flexible scraper, transfer the dough onto the board.
  • Wet your hands and lightly flatten the dough. Rewetting your hands often, or using a wet bench scraper, lift up, stretch and fold the dough inward from each “side” (think north, south, east, west). Turn the dough upside-down and shape into round boule.
  • To tighten the surface tension of the dough without deflating it, reach over the dough with your arms, lace your fingers together flat on the board, and pull the boule towards you as it sits on the board. Rotate the board 90° and repeat 3 more times. Cover with the empty bowl and rest the dough on the board for 20 minutes.  
  • Line a container roughly the dimensions of your cast iron pot with parchment paper, cut to fit the container with at least 3 inches to spare on all sides. These corners will become the “handles” you will later use to transfer the boule later. Set aside.
  • Insert the cast iron pot, covered, into the oven on the middle shelf and preheat it to 500°F/260 °C. while the bread rises.
  • Repeat steps 6 and 7 but instead of resting the boule on the board, transfer it to your lined container. Invert a bowl over the container and to permit it to rise over 1 to 1 ½ hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen. (The cooler it is, the slower the rise.)
  • When the dough has risen as much as you think it can, take the hot iron pot from the oven and place on the stovetop grates. Remove the cover and transfer the boule into it by carefully lifting the boule by the corners of the parchment liner and placing it in the hot pot. Cover. Return it to the oven, lower the oven temp to 475°F/246°C and bake it for 18 minutes.
  • Remove the cover, leaving the iron pot in the oven. Lower the temp to 425°F/218°C. Bake for an additional 47 to 55 minutes or until your boule takes on a deep chestnut color on top.
  • Remove from the oven, reverse the boule onto a cooling rack, and peel off the parchment. Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.
  • Once cool, store on the counter, wrapped loosely in a clean cotton kitchen towel. The bread should remain fresh for 3 to 4 days. Enjoy it plain, or with a light smear of unsweetened fruit preserves..

Raisin Pumpernickel Sourdough Bread

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