The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Jewish sour rye

dmsnyder's picture


It has been a while since I last made Jewish Sour Rye, but it is still a favorite of mine. Learning to make this bread, which I could no longer get locally, was a major reason I started baking bread again 4 or 5 years ago. I use a formula based on that in George Greenstein's “Secrets of a Jewish Baker.” In 2008, I worked out the ingredient weights. Greenstein gives only volume measurements. The formula for my version can be found here: Sour Rye Bread from George Greenstein's “Secrets of a Jewish Baker”

Traditional Jewish Sour Rye is made with white rye flour and first clear flour. Once I started making more German and Russian style rye breads, the flavor of white rye became less appealing to me. I started making a version of Jewish Sour Rye using dark rye instead.

Today's bake was made with a rye sour built from my stock sourdough, which is kept at 50% hydration and is fed with a 70:20:10 mix of AP:WW: Dark rye. I went through 3 builds at 12 hour intervals, doubling the volume of sour with each build. The first two were fed with BRM Dark Rye. The final build, which contained approximately half the total rye flour, was fed with a nice, finely milled medium rye flour from I kept the half-ripe, final sour build refrigerated overnight and let it warm up for an hour before mixing the dough. The first clear flour I used was also from I also added a half cup of altus – German-style pumpernickel (baked 5 months ago and frozen) cut in cubes and soaked overnight in cold water, then wrung out before adding to the dough. 

I needed to add an additional 1/2 cup or so of first clear flour during mixing to get the dough consistency I wanted. I suspect this was necessary because of the additional water in the altus. This dough is very slack and very sticky as it comes out of the mixer, but it shapes well with judicious flour dusting and a light touch when handling it. I divided the dough into three 528g pieces and shaped as logs. For the first time, I proofed this rye on a linen couche. This stuff is magic. Even these sticky loaves released with no dough sticking to the linen. I transferred the loaves to a sheet of parchment on my peel, because I didn't want the cornstarch glaze getting on it. The bake was as described in my previous blog entries.

I sliced and tasted the bread about 3 hours after it came out of the oven. I feared I had somewhat over-proofed the loaves. They had less oven spring than usual. However, I was very happy with the crumb structure and the texture of the crumb. It has a delicious rye with caraway flavor. It was moderately sour. The pumpernickel altus added a depth of flavor, as well as a different texture due to the cracked rye berries in in the pumpernickel dough.

This bread is still a favorite.


Submitted to YeastSpotting

dmsnyder's picture

This weekend, I returned to my roots, tweaked a new favorite and baked a new bread.

When I started baking bread again after a 25 year hiatus, my motive was to make two favorite breads I was unable to obtain locally – Jewish Sour Rye and San Francisco-style Sourdough. My initial achievement of these goals was with the Sour Rye formula from George Greenstein's Secrets of a Jewish Baker and with Peter Reinhart's Sourdough Bread from Crust & Crumb. These remain among my favorite breads.

Yesterday, I baked Greenstein's Jewish Sour Rye. The “authentic” NY-style deli bread is made with a white rye sour and first clear flour. As my taste for heartier rye breads developed, I began using whole rye flour rather than white rye and found I preferred it. For this bake, I used KAF Medium Rye though, and found it a very good.

Greenstein's recipes all use volume measurements. Some time back, I converted a couple of my favorites from his book to weights. (See Sour Rye Bread from George Greenstein's “Secrets of a Jewish Baker”) Although I'm a firm believer in weighing ingredients and do so even when feeding my stock sourdough starter, I have to confess I feed my rye sour by feel. The sour I built for this bake must have been firmer than usual or the medium rye thirstier than the BRM dark rye flour I've been using, because the dough ended up drier than usual. The effect was the cuts opened up much more than they usually do. The loaves were also under-proofed, and they had major bursting.

The flavor of this bread is wonderful. When tasted right after cooling, it was intensely sour. It was less sour on the second day. I believe I'll stick with medium rye for this bread for a while.


The miche we baked during the SFBI Artisan II workshop (This miche is a hit!)  is a new favorite. I've made it four times now, I think, each time with a different flour mix. Today, I picked up on brother Glenn's bakes using half Central Milling's “Organic Type 85” flour and half one of CM's baguette flours. I used CM “Organic Tye 85” flour to build the levain and KAF AP flour for the final dough. This results in 13% high-extraction flour and 87% white flour in the total dough. I scaled the miche to 2 kg for this bake.

I was inspired by Breadsong's scoring of her Teff miche (SFBI Teff Miche - 1.5kg) and attempted to do something similar. I bow to her superior artistry, but I'm not unhappy with my result.

SFBI Miche crumb

SFBI Miche crumb

I left the miche wrapped in baker's linen overnight before slicing. The crust remained crunchy. The crumb was moist. The aroma was quite wheaty. The flavor of the crust was dark and sweet. The crumb was moderately sour but with a complex wheaty, sweet flavor. 

Recall that all the high-extraction flour in this bread was pre-fermented. I really like the effect. The higher ash content results in more active fermentation and acid production, both of which I appreciate. The impact of the Type 85 flour on the flavor profile was greater than one might expect from its 13% presence in the total flour. In the original SFBI formula, the whole wheat flour is also in the levain, and constitutes only 3.33% of the total flour. This bread was very good made entirely with high-extraction flour, but, at least at the moment, I believe I like it best using the original formula. It's a hard call, because all the flour mixes I've used have made delicious breads.


The new bread I baked was the “Vienna Bread” with Dutch Crunch from BBA. The TFL members' bakes of this bread (Latest Bake: Dutch Crunch) really inspired me, especially the rolls, since we planned on making hamburgers for dinner.

Vienna Bread with Dutch Crunch Bâtard

Vienna Bread with Dutch Crunch Rolls

Reinhart's Vienna Bread formula makes a lovely dough, and the Dutch Crunch topping is visually striking on both larger loaves and rolls. I really had no idea how thick to apply the topping, so I “laid it on thick.” From the results, I think I got it about right.

Vienna Bread with Dutch Crunch at start of proofing

Vienna Bread with Dutch Crunch at finish of proofing

Vienna Bread crumb

As advertised, the crust is crunch and slightly sweet. The crumb is very light, delicate and tender with a lovely balanced flavor. The flavor is like brioche but much more subtle. Words like "delicate," and "finesse" come to mind. I anticipate that this will make outstanding toast and French toast. Actually, I think I could just sit down right now and eat the whole loaf as is.

So, would "delicate" and "subtle" bread be your choice for a hamburger bun? No?

Caramelized red onion with balsamic vinegar and roasted New Mexico Green Chile hamburger on Vienna Dutch Crunch roll




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