Thursday, December 25, 2008

Who Doesn't love a good loaf of Jewish Rye Bread?

Where I grew up as a kid we had great Jewish delicatessens in practically every big neighborhood or town. I can remember going to our local deli every week to buy a loaf or two of their rye bread. They had big machines that would slice the bread for you and then put it in the white paper bag and home you'd go with a delicious warm loaf of the best rye bread to ever pass your lips.

The crust had to be a little chewy and the color of dark honey and of course it had to have caraway seeds all throughout including the crust. If this is the kind of rye bread you long for, you can make your own. Yes, you heard me, you can make your own, but understand, any good loaf of bread can take a while to make as there can be numerous steps and it can actually take days from start to finish.

I will guide you through how I make my rye bread and then you can see if you are up to the task.

Jewish Rye Bread

Milk Sour:
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup medium rye flour

1. The first step is making the Milk Sour which consists of 1-1/2 cups of buttermilk let to sit out overnight in a warm place uncovered. The next morning, slowly pour in 3/4 cup of rye flour and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth and again let sit out overnight uncovered at room temperature.

The Rye Sponge:
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
all of the milk sour from previous step
1/4 cup rye flour
2 cups unbleached white flour

2. For the sponge, proof the yeast in the warm water. When it is creamy, after around 10 minutes, pour it and the milk sour into a large bowl. Mix in the flours, stirring until you have a batter and let the sponge sit, covered at room temperature for 4 hours until it has tripled in size and dropped. (warm place)

The Dough:
all of the sponge from the previous step
1 T salt
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup warm water
3 cups unbleached white flour
3 T caraway seeds

Glaze: 1 egg white and 1 teasp cold water

3. To make the dough, add the rest of the ingredients with salt being last. Add the caraway seeds and water first and then add the flour a little at a time until you can't stir anymore. Don't forget to add the salt and then pour out onto a floured board and knead the rest of the flour in until it is not sticky and gooey anymore. You will need to add more flour until you have the right consistency. *Note: This can change every time you make it depending on your weather and the amount of moisture in the air.

Let the dough rise until double in size 50-60 minutes.

Punch down and flatten out. Form a large log pushing away and under. Place it seam side down on a baking sheet sprinkled with large grain cornmeal.

Preheat oven to 400. Let loaves rise 30-40 minutes until they don't spring back quickly. Slash 3-4 times diagonally across the loaf with a razor blade and glaze the top with egg glaze. Bake 35-40 minutes and spritz the inside of the oven with a water bottle or throw 4 ice cubes and 1/4 cup of cold water onto the floor of the oven when you open it to put in the bread.

Notes: I prefer to use a bread stone (Pizza stone) instead of sheet pans as it bakes evenly and gives the bottom of the loaf a good color. If you have a pizza paddle to put the loaf on prior to placing in the oven you will have an easier time transferring the loaf. This is a big recipe so you may opt as I often do, to make two loaves with this instead of one big one.

There are three rules to baking great bread. Preheat the oven a minimum of 30 minutes before baking, use a baking stone and mist the oven in the first 10 minutes of baking.


drfugawe said...

An interesting Rye Bread! Do you remember where you got it? Or rather, the source? Early in our marriage, my wife taught in Lakewood, N.J., a VERY Jewish resort place (where the New Yorkers who didn't go to Palm Beach came for winter vacation). Lakewood had literally dozens of Jewish bakeries, and if you went at the right time, you could get day-old loaves of rye bread for 15 cents each!(1970!) To this day, I've never had better.

I'll be trying this soon, but I promise not to critique you as hard as I do myself.

ladyflyfsh said...

Doc, your crit is welcome here. My only recommendation is that you will have to add an amount of flour and that is always going to differ. Also I've played with the oven temps anywhere from 400-425. Things were a bit touchy at high altitude but it worked in OR well this go-round. Let us know how it goes if you make it...I'll surely be interested.

I got this recipe from a friend of mine and I don't know where she got it! Neither of us are Jewish but heck, I don't THINK you have to be Jewish to make a decent loaf of rye you?

ladyflyfsh said...

Hey doc, did you ever try this rye bread recipe? I'm interested to hear your comments if you did.

drfugawe said...

I'm embarrassed to tell that I haven't made it yet - but I promise you I will in the next week or two. I'm grinding my own flour now, so results are always interesting. But my last two ryes turned out very well with the fresh flours - I will ask that you allow me to up the rye content just a little - please. I do know that the Jewish bakeries did make their 'rye' bread with very little rye flour, and then they used a 'white rye', which simply means a rye flour that had most of its bran removed - although that may actually make a good loaf of bread, I can't bring myself to take out all that good stuff, at least not until I'm convinced that good rye bread can't be make without doing so. So, I'll do your recipe with whole grain dark rye instead of the white rye - and I'll be sure to report back to you.

Hope you're staying cool and catching lots of fish down there.