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Sep 24, 2007 12:00 PM

Heavily seeded Jewish rye bread recipe?

So, I've got a batch of half-sour pickles happily fermenting in a corner. I would love to eat them with some good rye bread. I'm talking proper, Jewish-style/Eastern European style heavily seeded rye bread, the type you'd get at a bakery like Orwasher's in New York.

One cannot obtain such bread in Seattle (or such pickles, for that matter), and I like making things myself. Does anyone have an excellent recipe for this kind of bread? I'd greatly appreciate it.

I'm pretty sure the bread uses a sourdough starter, and may be able to obtain one from a friend if it would need more days to ferment than I have; I'm hoping to make bread for a dinner on Wednesday if possible. If not, I'd love the recipe for a later date.

By the way, if the half-sours turn out well, I'll post how I did it in another thread.

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  1. Here's a link to a recipe for Jewish rye bread that uses a sourdough starter:

    1. If any consolation, the great Ryes of NYC are gone, from Zabar's [once New Jersey Certified Bakery] to the LES. (Even knishes seem bland and disappointing.) For a while we were getting a decent Jewish Rye here in Durham NC from Whole Foods, now too light and tasteless. Every now and again, I try my hand at another Rye, and others love them, but nothing satisfies my 1950's Bronx palate. you have to carry the tam, the taste, to understand my heartbreak.
      Phaedrus sent me this one, a year ago, but have never tried it:

      Real Jewish Rye Bread

      Using fresh yeast will cause the bread to rise more quickly. Preheating the
      baking sheet makes the bread begin to rise immediately upon contact; this
      results in the bread holding its shape and attaining the highest rise.

      2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (not rapid-rise) or 1 tablespoon fresh yeast
      3 tablespoons granulated sugar
      3 cups warm water (about 100 degrees)
      6 cups bread flour, plus additional for the work surface
      1 tablespoon barley malt or diastatic malt powder (optional)*
      2 teaspoons deli rye flavor (optional)
      Generous 1/4 teaspoon citric acid (optional)
      2 cups rye flour
      1/4 cup caraway seeds
      1 tablespoon salt
      1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus additional for the bowl
      About 2 teaspoons cornmeal

      Place the yeast in a small bowl and add 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar
      and 1/4 cup of the water. (If using active dry yeast, increase the temperature
      of the water to 110 degrees.) Stir until the yeast is dissolved.
      Set aside in a draft-free place until covered with bubbles, 10 to 20 minutes.
      (If there are no bubbles, the yeast is too old to be useful.)

      In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture, 3 cups of the bread flour,
      2 tablespoons of the remaining sugar, the remaining 2 3/4 cups water and
      the optional malt, deli rye flavor and citric acid, if using. Whisk until very
      smooth, about 100 strokes; set aside.

      In a very large bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 cups of the bread flour,
      the rye flour, the remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar, the caraway seeds and salt. Gently scoop the flour mixture onto the reserved yeast mixture to form a blanket. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature until the dough has risen considerably, 4 to 5 hours (may refrigerate for as long as overnight).

      Add the oil to the dough and, using a wooden spoon, mix to combine,
      adding flour or water as needed to form a soft dough. On a lightly
      floured surface, knead the dough, adding flour as necessary to keep it
      from sticking to the surface, until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

      The dough should jump back when pressed with a fingertip.
      Form the dough into a ball. Lightly oil a large bowl.
      Place the dough in the bowl, turn to coat with the oil, cover tightly
      with plastic wrap or a damp towel and set aside to rise until doubled
      in bulk, 1 to 2 hours (the dough will rise more slowly in a cold room).

      Using your fist, punch the dough to deflate it. On a lightly floured
      surface, knead the dough briefly. Form the dough into a ball, return
      it to the bowl, cover and set aside to rise a third time for 45 minutes.

      Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal.

      To shape the dough, roll it into an 8-inch ball or 2 smaller balls and
      place the dough on the cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet. Cover with a
      large inverted bowl or plastic wrap that has been oiled. Set aside to rise
      until doubled in bulk, 60 to 75 minutes.

      A little more than halfway through the final rising, adjust the oven rack
      to the lowest position. Place a second baking sheet on the rack. Preheat
      the oven to 450 F.

      When the dough has risen, using a sharp knife, slash the top of the loaf
      twice in 1 direction about 6 inches apart, then slice again with 2 slashes
      perpendicular to the first set.

      Carefully slide the dough directly onto the preheated baking sheet and bake
      the bread for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 400 F and continue to
      bake for 50 to 65 minutes (34 to 40 minutes for the 2 small breads), until
      the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when lightly tapped.

      Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool slightly. Baked bread
      stays warm for 2 hours after baking.

      * Note: Barley malt, also known as diastatic malt powder, is available locally at many grocery stores or by mail order from King Arthur's Flour. Deli rye flavor and
      citric acid (or "sour salt") is also available from King Arthur's, and at some grocery stores.

      In the book of Good Rye, may you be seeded and risen, fm

      1 Reply
      1. re: fayga mindl

        I just made this bread and the extra time it took was worth it! The best bread Real Rye Bread I have ever made. I did use all of the optional ingredients and followed the instructions carefully. The only problem that I had was after I made the "blanket" and left it for a few hours, I came back to quite a mess, the mixture had bubbled over the edges of the bowl. I'll use the biggest bowl next time.
        The flavor and texture were excellent!. Thank you!

      2. I would also recommend trying the rye bread recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes. I added the King Arthur rye bread flavor according to KA's directions. It might not be exactly what you remember - what ever is? - but we were pretty happy with it. It was good enough that the cleaning person made off with one loaf.

        And fayga, WF breads haven't been worth a hang, unfortunately, since they went from being Wellspring to WF. If you're interested, I have what is purportedly the Wellspring challah recipe and I intend to try it for yontiff. I clipped it from the N&O many years ago so we'll see if it is like their old challah.

        3 Replies
        1. re: rockycat

          rockycat, please do post the Wellspring challah recipe.

          1. re: Wtg2Retire

            I'm not sure I still have it. I did make the challah and it definitely did not taste anything like Wellspring's challah. Perhaps it was due to scaling down the recipe from commercial to home quantities. Perhaps it was never the right recipe to begin with. I can have a look, but I've probably disposed of the recipe in the intervening years.

            1. re: rockycat

              I understand. I throw recipes away when the don't meet my expectations, too. Thanks for the response.

        2. I just figured out how to make a great Jewish rye bread using the no-knead method (see NYT article). It also does not require a starter, yet it is as sour as you might like to make it and has all the caraway seeds you desire.

          Use the ingredients clled for in the NYT recipe, add a cup of rye flour, and yes, folks, two teaspoons of citric acid crystals and 2 T caraway seeds. Add additional water to account for the additional cup of flour.

          I have a Thermador oven with a proof mode, so I get away with 4 hours of proofing in the oven rather than the 12 hours normally called for.

          Also, as far as baking is concerned, I use a 3.5 qt. cast iron pot which is a little smaller than you might normally use, but the loaf will stay up. The same technique in a 7.5 qt. pot with additional ingredients did not work for me (it remained relatively flat). Before baking, I heat the oven to 500F and leave the pot in the oven for 45 minutes. Then I take it out, put it on the stove. I put the loaf on parchment paper, cut to about 24 inches, and lower it into the hot cast iron pot. Bake for 30 minutes with the cover on at 500F, then take the cover off and let it bake for another 20 - 30 minutes. You'll love the crust as well as the inside.

          You'll be patting yourself on the back when you try the finished product. Let's hear how you make out with this.