Q. Is pumpernickel a high-fiber bread?

A. Odds are that it is not -- but the safest answer is probably: "It depends."

Why the uncertainty? Pumpernickels come in various shades of brown, and by definition are sour bread made of "dark rye." However, some pumpernickel has no more fiber than that provided by any caraway seeds it may contain. One local bakery told us they used white flour and caramel coloring.

In checking recipes from five different sources, we found that the flours used to produce pumpernickel vary considerably, which in turn affects the fiber content of the finished loaf. They ranged from an obviously high-fiber recipe containing mainly whole-wheat flour, as well as dark rye flour and unbolted cornmeal, to one that might be quite low in fiber if, in addition to the white flour in the recipe, light rye and degermed cornmeal were used. If you are unfamiliar with pumpernickel recipes, some of the ingredients might surprise you. Four of the five included mashed potatoes, one used dark chocolate and another cocoa.

We also checked the labels on loaves available in the supermarket. The first ingredient in each of several brands was refined unbleached flour. The types and amounts of other flours, some of which were whole grains and others of which were not, varied from one bakery to another. But with nothing more than an ingredients list to follow, it was not possible to tell exactly how much fiber a particular loaf might contain.

In short, if a high-fiber pumpernickel is what you are looking for, there are two alternatives. One, bake your own from a recipe that uses lots of whole grains. Or you can check your local bakeries to find one that produces pumpernickel, or a reasonable facsimile, made mainly with unrefined flour.