What Germany doesn't have is "pumpernickel" bread. What?!? How can that be? Isn't pumpernickel bread German? Well, yes. But for some reason, the pumpernickel bread that can be found in the US is nothing like the pumpernickel here. Traditional German pumpernickel is a very dense bread that you can usually only buy pre-sliced and wrapped at the grocery store (I asked once at a bakery and the woman looked at me like I was crazy). It is made from coarsely ground rye, along with a very small amount of wheat flour. The dough is traditionally leavened with a sourdough starter, and the bread is then baked long and slow, for 16 to 24 hours, in an oven with steam in it. During this long baking time, a reaction occurs between the sugars and the acids in the starter, which naturally darkens the bread.
Very unlike American pumpernickel.
American-style pumpernickel bread is really a wheat and rye bread, colored with ingredients such as coffee, molasses, or cocoa powder (kind of like my favorite carrot molasses bread). The crumb is not dense like the German-style, and the taste is very different. Regular yeast is used to leaven it instead of a sourdough starter, and many versions often add caraway seeds. How it came to be, is a very good question?! Both types of pumpernickel are delicious, but they are not at all the same thing.
For Americans, I would recommend making these sandwiches with American-style pumpernickel. For Germans, I would actually not use pumpernickel and instead go with Bauernbrot or any type of typical dark bread.
Grilled Cheddar and Ham with Apple and Chutney Sandwiches
Adapted from Food and Wine
For this recipe, I like to layer the grated apples and the grated cheese together, so that they melt into a gooey, apple-spiked cheese mixture. Don't overdo the cheese though- you want the ham and cheese to have about the same proportion in the sandwich.
8 slices of pumpernickel bread
1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup mango chutney
1/2 Granny Smith apple—peeled, cored and coarsely shredded
8 ounces white cheddar cheese, grated
8-12 slices ham
1. Preheat a frying pan over medium heat.
2. Spread the bread thinly with the butter and arrange, buttered side down, on a work surface. Spread each slice with the mango chutney. Layer half the slices with ham, grated apple, and grated cheese. Close the sandwiches.
3. Grill the sandwiches over medium-low heat until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted, about 5-10 minutes. While grilling, press down on the sandwiches with a spatula in order to get the cheese oozy and melted. Flip the sandwiches halfway through.