This is an extremely interesting loaf to make, but one that I'm not likely to repeat. It was certainly the most complex bread I've made thus far, a bread with a preferment and two soakers. I made this loaf a single time, which for me, is quite enough. While I can appreciate this bread, overall it really isn't to my tastes.
The ingredient list was problematic as it calls for rye meal, rye berries, and rye chops among other things. I used King Arthur's pumpernickel flour as the rye meal. My rye berries came from Whole Foods. The rye chops I made by putting rye berries in a food processor. This took a while and gave both the chopped pieces and rye flour. As has become my habit, I mixed the high gluten flour by adding vital wheat gluten to KA's bread flour. Also, I used regular molasses rather than black strap molasses.
When I began mixing the dough, it seemed too dry so I added 4 ounces of water. As it turned out, I was too hasty. Over the course of mixing the bread, I needed to add in an additional 10 ounces of flour to get the right consistency. Keep in mind, the recipe makes a 4 pound pullman's loaf, so the additions, while not desirable, were not a drastic as they might seem.
Following the recipe, the loaf was baked, left in the oven over night, and went through another day of resting before it was cut. The loaf pulled in slightly from the pan, so was easy to remove although quite a bit of moisture accumulate in the pullman pan.
The loaf was quite dark, darker than any loaf I've made, but I wouldn't describe it as almost black as did Hamelman. The loaf was also quite dense. This is a loaf to be sliced thin and served with a strong cheese or sausage, something that can stand up against the bread.
Overall, I learned a lot in the process, and I'm glad I made the bread. I can certainly appreciate the quality of the bread. But, overall, this isn't the kind of bread I crave. I'm afraid, that despite the effort, most of the loaf went uneaten.