1. Pumpernickel is a type of dark rye bread of German Westphalian origin.
The original pumpernickel is made with coarsely crushed whole rye and water only, without using any leavening or sweetening agents, flours or other ingredients.
Nowadays yeast, sourdough starter, rye malt or sugar beet syrup are sometimes added to the bread mixture.
The bread is baked in a closed container at a low temperature in steam oven for several hours, which gives it a dark, dense and coarse, slightly sticky and moist texture with a delicious, sweet-and-sour taste.
The sourness and sweetness of the bread are naturally developed during the long fermenting and baking process.
In Germany, in order for a bread to be called Pumpernickel, it has to meet special requirements, which is not the case in similar breads produced in other countries.
To save time and money, many "pumpernickel" manufacturers use various additives to cut corners in the processing and baking procedure of the bread, resulting in poor-quality imitations lacking the natural flavour development of genuine Pumpernickel.
One well-known brand of German Pumpernickel is the Prünte Pumpernickel,
produced in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.
Similar slowly baked dense rye breads of good quality are also made in other countries sharing a long tradition and appreciation of rye bread, like the Nordic and Baltic countries, Russia, Poland, etc.
Pumpernickel is good eaten either plain with butter, or topped with cheese, smoked fish, sausages or meats or gravlax, freshly salted whitefish, pickled herring, etc.
2. Here in Finland, a type of sweet gingerbread cookie is called pumpernikkeli (= pumpernickel), and that is why the name "pumpernickel" is more often associated with a cookie than rye bread by the Finns.
Although slightly similar to some types of German gingerbreads like the soft or crispier, sugar-glazed brown Lebkuchen pumpernikkeli cookies are not soft, but crispy and rather large, being thicker than the typical Nordic gingerbread cookies.
The pumpernikkeli sometimes "misspelled" as pumppernikkeli are usually of oval shape and glazed with pink sugar icing, but are also produced in many other shapes, sizes and colours of icing.