Thursday, September 27, 2012

Real Jewish Rye Bread

Adapted from "The Bread Bible" by Rose Levy Beranbaum

I wish I had my camera right now, but I don't and I didn't want to use a picture that wasn't mine. So you'll just have to imagine a warm crusty loaf of seeded Jewish rye bread with the slightest wisp of steam rising from it's soft tan colored crumb with the tale tale scent of caraway drifting softly through the air. Okay, close you eyes and inhale through your nose.....can you see it? Smell it??? Sure you can...and if you can't, well you'll just have to believe me, it's wonderful.

As mentioned up top, this recipe is adapted and has been changed from the original recipe. If you would like the original recipe you can find it here. This is a great tutorial and has some really good pictures of how this bread should look when it's done.

This bread takes some time to prepare, it's easy but time consuming. You'll spend most of your time waiting for the dough to raise so this is a really good rainy day recipe when you can cook up a big pot of soup and make Jewish Rye Bread too. Now for the recipe.

For the Sponge (dough starter)

3/4 Cup Bread Flour
3/4 Cup Rye Flour
1 Teaspoon Rapid Rise Yeast (or 1/2 packet of any yeast)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Molasses
3/4 Cup Whey (or water at room temperature)
3/4 Cup Warm Water (at room temperature)

To make the sponge combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until smooth, scraping down the sides and making sure you get all the ingredients well combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and sit aside.

For the bread flour mixture

2 1/4 Cups Bread Flour
1 Teaspoon Rapid Rise Yeast (or 1/2 packet of any yeast)
2 Tablespoons Caraway Seeds
1 1/2 Teaspoons Sea Salt
1 1/2 Teaspoons Olive Oil

In another bowl combine the bread flour, yeast, caraway seeds and sea salt. Remove the plastic wrap from the sponge mixture. Gently scoop the flour mixture OVER the top of the sponge mixture. Make sure you cover the entire sponge with the flour mixture. Cover tightly with the plastic wrap and let set for 1 to 4 hours or until the sponge bubbles up through the flour mixture. I put my dough in my oven with the light on, no heat, just the light. The longer you allow this to sit, the better the flavor will be.

After the 1 to 4 hour period add the olive oil to the flour and sponge mixture and with a wooden spoon mix until the flour is well moistened. Using your hand, knead the dough in the bowl for about 5 minutes to help develop the gluten. Add more flour only if you really need to, the dough will be a little sticky but not super wet. Cover the dough in the bowl with a towel and let it rest for about 20 minutes.

Now for the most important step, follow this exactly and it will make the next 10 minutes go by quickly. Walk over to your radio and tune in your favorite radio station. Wait until the next song begins and start this for 4 songs. This should be about 10 minutes with the ads, if it's continuous play then knead for 5 songs. Believe me, this really works and helps you to pass the time while you knead your dough. I find kneading dough to be very therapeutic, it lets me work out my frustrations and then the gentle rocking motion relaxes me. My favorite radio station is K-LOVE, but you can listen to whatever you like. Lightly sprinkle your kneading area with flour only as needed if the dough is still sticky. After 10 minutes your dough should be soft and smooth. Lightly oil a 2 quart bowl and place the dough in the bowl, give the dough a twist and flip it over. Your entire ball of dough should now be covered with a light coating of oil. Cover and let raise for 1 1/2 hours in a warm draft free place.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter top and press down. Now you can shape your loaf. I needed bread for slicing so I used my clay bread pan but you can make a round loaf or a torpedo shaped loaf. It doesn't matter what shape you make, as long as you're happy that's all that matters. If you do a round or torpedo shaped loaf sprinkle about a tablespoon of corn meal on your cookie sheet, this will help keep the bread from sticking to the cookie sheet.Cover and let the dough raise for another hour or until nearly doubled in size, in a warm draft free place.

When the dough is ready, you can make several slashes in it to expose some of the crumb. Or you can just leave it as it is. It's entirely up to you, it doesn't change the flavor, but it does look nice. To slash your dough you need a really sharp knife or a strait edged razor. Make cross hatch cuts or diagonal cuts on the top of the dough for a more decorative look.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Mist the dough with water and place on the middle rack of your oven. Mist the oven walls and floor with more water and quickly close the door. After 15 minutes turn the oven down to 400 degrees and bake another 30 to 40 minutes. The loaf should be golden brown and if you stick a dry spaghetti noodle into the middle of it it should come out clean.

When your bread is done, remove it from the oven and cool it completely on a wire baking rack before cutting.....unless you're really really good at cutting warm bread.

And that my friends is how I make Jewish Rye Bread. Like I said, it isn't really hard just very time consuming. I started at 9am and didn't finish until about 7 pm this evening. One good thing about this dough is you can put it in the refrigerator anytime after you mix the sponge and flour together. So if your pressed for time you can make the sponge and flour the night before, refrigerate it after you stir it together and complete the bread the next day. Like I mentioned earlier, the longer this bread sits and ferments, the better the flavor gets.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and if you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comment section down below. I will answer them as best I can. Until next time have a day full of sunshine and a night filled with peace.

The Real Happy Homemaker


  1. I would love to add the caraway seeds to my rye bread; however, Mr. Boostie does nothing with seeds in it. I make no jams, I bake nothing with nuts only nut meals. He will not eat coconut. So many of the wonderful things I grew up eating I have given up because of this man. He tells to make them and just leave a sign on them so he will not try to eat them and be upset. But, I just can't do it for myself. Maybe at the holidays I will do something because there will be others here how will enjoy the seeds, nuts and coconut. I really do miss a lot of the grains. So glad you can make things with seeds and nuts.

    1. Hi Bootsie,

      This recipe make a pretty big loaf of bread, but this time since hubby was out of town I made two smaller loaves and froze one. I had rye toast every morning for breakfast and sometimes for lunch with a sandwich and ate an entire small loaf in four days. You could always divide your favorite dough into two smaller loaves and knead the seeds into one of the loaves just as soon as you finish your first kneading.....kind of like his and hers loaves of bread. Just use half the amount of seeds to knead into the dough. Just an idea to think about.

      I like the seeds, but even without there is nothing better than fresh rye bread just out of the oven.

      Happy Baking,