Earl Carter
Earl Carter
Earl Carter
Earl Carter
Earl Carter Earl Carter
Earl Carter
Earl Carter
Credit: Earl Carter

Pumpernickel sandwiches with bacon and marmalade

Annie Smithers is the owner and chef of du Fermier in Trentham, Victoria. Her latest book is Recipe for a Kinder Life. She is a food editor of The Saturday Paper.

Credit: Earl Carter

There are recipes, from long years ago, that linger in the back of my mind. Rarely, if ever, are they used. But there is some security in my old cook’s mind just knowing they are there. Usually it will be a series of events or memories that triggers the extrication of one of these dormant treasures.

And so a dear friend returns from New York just on the cusp of the Seville orange season. While it may seem a long bow to some, the need to make a dark rye/pumpernickel-style loaf becomes something I cannot resist. Into the vault of my recipes I go and I remember a loaf I made as an apprentice.

The dark loaf that I made, so many years ago, was used for a delicate sandwich of watercress and cucumber that accompanied freshly shucked oysters. But it’s not the oyster dish that is stirring my memories. It’s the incomparable Gabrielle Hamilton of New York’s Prune restaurant. Some years ago she came to Australia and cooked a lunch for a food festival event. The lunch started with a toasted sandwich, an American version of pumpernickel, lightly toasted, filled with crisp strips of bacon and a delicious orange marmalade. Strange, but perfect in its strangeness.

Pumpernickel is a curious beast in itself. A dark, soft loaf hailing from the Westphalia region of Germany, traditionally, it was cooked in a sealed container in a steam-laden oven. This more modern version hails from the United States, where it is a little lighter and is allowed to bake with a crust. The best way to build the sandwich is to cover the top slice of toast with lashings of butter and a generous swipe of marmalade, and invert it onto the hot bacon-laden bottom slice. Then the butter melts luxuriously through the rest of the sandwich.

But don’t forget this loaf in the summer. If my memory serves me correctly, it’s perfect with oysters, too.

Wine pairing:

2014 Trimbach riesling, Alsace, France ($31) – Carly Lauder, du Fermier.


For the pumpernickel

  • 250ml warm water
  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • 1½ tbsp molasses
  • 1 tsp instant coffee
  • 150g white bread flour
  • 150g rye flour
  • 50g polenta
  • 45g burghul
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp salt
  • zest of an orange

For the sandwiches

  • 12 rashers of free-range belly bacon
  • 6 tbsp Seville orange marmalade
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 12 thin slices pumpernickel
  1. In a small bowl, combine the water, yeast, molasses and coffee. Mix and stand aside for 10 minutes.
  2. Combine the remaining dry ingredients and orange zest in a large bowl if making by hand, or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Make a well in the centre and stir until combined. Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.
  3. If using a stand mixer, first mix with the paddle attachment for two minutes and then change to the dough hook and mix for a further five minutes.
  4. Place in a large bowl and set somewhere warm for about an hour or until doubled in size. I cover my bowl with either a damp tea towel or cling wrap.
  5. Preheat oven to 210ºC. Turn the dough out, knead lightly and then pat into a rectangle. Fold one edge into the middle and then the opposing edge into the middle, then fold over and form a torpedo-shaped loaf. This process gives the loaf a spine. Place on a greased oven tray, cover with a floured tea towel and leave in a warm area to rise for another 45 minutes. Brush with water and then make diagonal slashes on the top of the loaf. Bake at 210ºC for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 170ºC and bake for a further 20 minutes or until the loaf is cooked and sounds hollow when tapped.
  6. Cool on a rack.


Toast the bread, keeping it warm in a low oven. Fry the bacon until it's nice and crisp. Arrange the bacon on six slices of toast, butter the remaining slices, spread with marmalade, invert onto the bacon. Serve and enjoy.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on July 29, 2017 as "Rasher in the rye".

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Annie Smithers is the owner and chef of du Fermier in Trentham, Victoria. Her latest book is Recipe for a Kinder Life. She is a food editor of The Saturday Paper.