Ari’s Pick: Pumpernickel Raisin Bread from the Bakehouse

A taste of Jewish New York with this Special Bake

Like a rare appearance of a musician with a strong cult following, Pumpernickel Raisin will be popping out of the Bakehouse ovens this coming weekend for a special, two-day appearance at the Bakeshop, the Deli, and the Roadhouse. For those in the know, pumpernickel raisin’s reappearance—even for two brief days—is cause for serious celebration.

Pumpernickel Raisin bread may not be prototypical Michigan baking, but it sure is good. One of my own favorite Bakehouse breads, it’s a little-known-in-the-Midwest specialty that long ago won over hearts and minds in New York City. Rye—and pumpernickel—were staples of Lower East Side Jewish eating. The story of pumpernickel raisin? Orwasher’s, the famous Manhattan bakery, says it was started at the end of WWII But I’ve found a few references to it being sold at Ratner’s dairy restaurant that was on Delancey Street as early as 1905 (just a few years after Mr. Disderide built that Deli Building and the brick streets were making our neighborhood into a paragon of progressive development).

In World of Our Fathers, Irving Howe records the memories of dozens of Jewish immigrants, including one Samuel Cohen who shared that: “Each boarder paid seventy-five cents a week, which was to include coffee in the morning and laundering… Every morning one of the boarders went down to the grocery store and bought four five-cent rye loaves. They would all breakfast on that with coffee. The remainder of each loaf was laid away for the evening meal.” Rye was the standard. I can only imagine that pumpernickel raisin would have been a relative luxury—a chance to bask in the better (if still challenged, as are the lives of most new immigrants anywhere) conditions of the New World.

(I also found a funny service story about a New York Jewish waiter who worked at the Stage Deli, which, for some reason, refused to offer pumpernickel raisin bread. When customers would ask for it, the customer-focused server would slide into the kitchen and personally press raisins into slices of pumpernickel bread for them! That’s what we would call a serious “extra mile” here at Zingerman’s).

The Pumpernickel Raisin is particularly good spread with that amazing cream cheese from the Creamery. Good with that Detroit Street Brick cheese above. Pretty darned good with peanut butter or almond butter. Or just toasted with butter. Or even just ripped from the loaf and eaten as is!


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  • Stop by the Bakeshop or Deli to buy a few loaves.
  • Or have some shipped to your in-laws in Southern Illinois!
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Ari Weinzweig
Co-Founding Partner at Zingerman's | + posts

In 1982, Ari Weinzweig, along with his partner Paul Saginaw, founded Zingerman’s Delicatessen with a $20,000 bank loan, a Russian History degree from the University of Michigan, 4 years of experience washing dishes, cooking and managing in restaurant kitchens and chutzpah from his hometown of Chicago. They opened the doors with 2 employees and a small selection of specialty foods and exceptional sandwiches.

Today, Zingerman’s Delicatessen is a nationally renowned food icon and the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses has grown to 10 businesses with over 750 employees and over $55 million in annual revenue. Aside from the Delicatessen, these businesses include Zingerman’s Bakehouse, Coffee Company, Creamery, Roadhouse, Mail Order, ZingTrain, Candy Manufactory, Cornman Farms and a Korean restaurant that is scheduled to open in 2016. No two businesses in the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses are alike but they all share the same Vision and Guiding Principles and deliver “The Zingerman’s Experience” with passion and commitment.

Besides being the Co-Founding Partner and being actively engaged in some aspect of the day-to-day operations and governance of nearly every business in the Zingerman’s Community, Ari Weinzweig is also a prolific writer. His most recent publications are the first 4 of his 6 book series Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading Series: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business (Part 1), Being a Better Leader (Part 2), Managing Ourselves (Part 3) and the newly-released Part 4, The Power of Beliefs in Business. Earlier books include the Zingerman’s Guides to Giving Great Service, Better Bacon, Good Eating, Good Olive Oil, Good Vinegar and Good Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Ari regularly travels across the country (and world) on behalf of ZingTrain, teaching organizations and businesses about Zingerman’s approach to business. He is a sought-after Keynote speaker, having delivered keynotes for Inc. 500, Microsoft Expo Spring Conference, Great Game of Business Gathering of Games, Positive Business Conference at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, American Society for Quality (ASQ), and the American Cheese Society. Most recently, Ari and Paul Saginaw were invited to address an audience of 50,000 for the University of Michigan 2015 Spring Commencement.

One of Zingerman’s Guiding Principles is being an active part of the community and in 1988, Zingerman’s was instrumental in the founding of Food Gatherers, a food rescue program that delivers over 5 million pounds of food each year to the hungry residents of Washtenaw county. Every year Zingerman’s donates 10% of its previous years profits to local community organizations and non-profits. Ari has served on the board of The Ark, the longest continuously operating folk music venue in America.

Over the decades, the Zingerman’s founding partners have consistently been the recipients of public recognition from a variety of diverse organizations. In April 1995, Ari and Paul were awarded the Jewish Federation of Washtenaw County’s first Humanitarian Award. In 2006, Ari was recognized as one of the “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” by the James Beard Foundation. In 2007, Ari and Paul were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Bon Appetit magazine for their work in the food industry. Ari was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Cheese Society in 2014. And Ari’s book, Building a Great Business was on Inc. magazine’s list of Best Books for Business Leaders.

Notwithstanding the awards, being engaged on a daily basis in the work of 10 businesses and 21 partners, writing books on business and in-depth articles on food for the Zingerman’s newsletter, Ari finds time to be a voracious reader. He acquires and reads more books than he can find room for. Ari might soon find himself the owner of the largest collection of Anarchist books in Ann Arbor outside the Labadie collection at the University of Michigan library!

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