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Feb 27, 2012 05:58 AM

What exactly is "deli-style rye"?

I recently decided to make a rye bread and was searching online for recipes. Many of these recipes claim to be "deli-style rye" and then I read random websites and blog posts from people who no longer have access to this type of rye due to where they currently live. Many were ex-New Yorkers pining for deli-style rye. What exactly is this? I grew up in a NYC suburb right on the Metro North line and for the life of me don't know what "deli-style rye" means. Is this the more dense loaf that is typically a boule? The lighter/airier sandwich bread? Seeded vs. seedless? I Googled the term and got no answers, other than people were searching for this style with no indication what it means.

Please enlighten me 'hounds, what exactly is a deli-style rye?

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  1. I'm sure you'll get some varying views on this, but to me deli-style rye is seeded and has a slightly crisp outer crust and reasonably soft-textured (but not mushy!) interior. It is the ultimate sandwich bread for most types of sandwiches.

    Most of what you find in supermarkets (and even delis) these days is way, way too soft and has no real crust. I am fortunate in that my local bakery makes their own and it is outstanding.

    Good on you for making your own, I hope it comes out great!

    2 Replies
    1. re: BobB

      You're correct. A good deli style rye(Jewish rye) has a thick chewy crust and a interior that is form enough to stand up to breads and cheeses w/o turning to mush. It is usually baked on a hearth because baking it in a pan will not give you the proper crust. It must have caraway seeds and the loaf should weigh a few pounds.

      This is the only commercial rye that I have found that comes anywhere close to a proper deli rye.

      1. re: Kelli2006

        I concur on Schwebel's. By far the best bagged rye out there. It still has the old world taste and holds a sandwich perfectly. Eli's on the Upper East Side of Manhattan make a similar style.

    2. It's not supermarket rye sandwich bread. It has a crisp crust (so once you put it in a plastic bag, you ruin the crust; waxed paper bags are the way to go). It has a generous presence of caraway inside (not typically outside, but sometimes it does) (classic "corn bread" or, in later usage, "corn rye", though, just has caraway on the outside; "corn" in this case, referring in the more old fashioned English usage generally to the dominant grain of the location of origin for the bread, in this case, rye). It has a crumb that is denser than wheat bread, and moister, due to the use of first clear flour (a high ash wheat flour) and altus (a mash made from old rye bread crusts) and sometimes malt. It also has a distinctly sour taste profile, with the sour using a bit of onion.

      It is perfection, if done right. Sadly, it's much rarer even in the NY area than it was, say, 30-40 years ago. I fondly remember being able to pick up perfect loaves from a bakery in the lower level of Grand Central Station to take up to my sister in the Hudson Valley, rather than having to haul one from my local bakery on Long Island.

      This is a famous attempt to teach the method to home bakers. But it's not quite the same as the results that used to be regular fare at corner bakeries (and the delis that purchased from them).

      1. this won't really help but the "real " jewish rye is available from orwashers in nyc. i would say none better, but i just ordered a bread from zingerman's in michigan and it will be here shortly. (i ordered a gift for some ppl. and decided to treat myself, but i have never had anything from them before)