The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Jewish Sour Rye Bread

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dmsnyder

When I started baking bread again about four years ago, one of my principal reasons was to bake a good Jewish Sour Rye, a favorite bread I could not get locally. Greenstein's Secrets of a Jewish Baker was one of the first bread books I acquired, and I found his Jewish Sour Rye Bread at least as good as any I could remember eating.

His book was criticized by a number of TFL members for providing only volume measurements for ingredients. So, in October, 2008, I made the Sour Rye, carefully weighing the ingredients. I've used that formula since with consistently good results. I still love this bread.

 

Ingredients

Wt (g)

First Clear flour

500

Water (80-199ºF)

240

Sea salt

12

Ripe rye sour (100% hydration)

750

Instant yeast

7

Altus (optional)

1/2 cup

Caraway seeds

1 T

Cornmeal for dusting parchment

 

Cornstarch glaze

 

Notes on Ingredients

  • Rye Sour A sourdough starter or levain fed with rye flour is called a “rye sour.” Note that all the rye flour in the formula is pre-fermented. Traditionally, Jewish Sour Rye or New York-style Deli Rye is made with white rye flour. This is the equivalent of white flour milled from wheat. The bran and germ is removed, and the flavor is much milder than whole grain rye flour. I happen to like the flavor of whole grain rye and for years have used either dark rye or medium rye rather than white rye flour in this bread. If you use white rye, you may want to reduce the water, since this is less absorbent flour.

  • Building the rye sour If you make rye bread frequently, it is worthwhile keeping a rye sour. Otherwise, you can build one starting with a wheat or mixed flour starter. When I am going to be making this bread, I generally build up my rye sour in three feeding, at least doubling the volume with each feeding. I wrote a tutorial on “the care and feeding of a rye sour” which illustrates some of the special techniques involved. (See: Greenstein's Sourdough Rye (Rye Sour) care and feeding, illustrated.)

  • Altus This is “old bread.” It's origin is said to have been a way for the baker to recycle the rye bread he hadn't sold the day before, but, besides being a thrifty practice, the incorporation of some old bread in the dough is felt to enhance both the flavor and texture of rye bread. Its use is optional but recommended. To prepare altus, take a few thick slices of previously baked rye bread. Cut them into cubes and put them in a small bowl, covered with water. After a few hours, squeeze the water out of the bread and add it to your dough before mixing it.

  • Instant yeast As with many sourdough breads, the addition of commercial yeast makes the fermentation and proofing times more predictable. However, it is not necessary to make good bread. Since so much of this bread's flavor comes from the rye sour, I don't think the addition of yeast has any adverse impact on the quality of the bread. I generally use it.

  • Cornstarch glaze Dissolve 1 1/2 – 2 T cornstarch in 1/4 cup cold water. Heat 1 cup of water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Slowly pour the dissolved cornstarch into the boiling water, whisking constantly. Continue to stir until it is somewhat thickened. Remove from heat and reserve.

    Note on the formula: This formula was derived from the recipe provided by Greenstein, with ingredient volume measurements only. If you are interested in the formula including baker's percentages of ingredients, I have written a tutorial on baker's math, using this formula as a model. The baker's percentages can be found there. (See: Baker's Math: A tutorial )

Method

  1. If you have a white rye sour, build it up to a volume of 4 cups or so the day before mixing the dough. If you do not have a rye sour but do have a wheat-based sourdough starter, you can easily convert it to a white rye starter by feeding it 2-3 times with white rye flour over 2-3 days.

  2. In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, dissolve the yeast in the water, then add the rye sour and mix thoroughly with your hands, a spoon or, if using a mixer, with the paddle.

  3. Stir the salt into the flour and add this to the bowl and mix well.

  4. Dump the dough onto the lightly floured board and knead until smooth. If using a mixer, switch to the dough hook and knead at Speed 2 until the dough begins to clear the sides of the bowl (about 20 minutes). You may need to add a few tablespoons additional First Clear flour to get the right dough consistency. Add the flour, if needed, as early as possible in the mix. Add the Caraway Seeds about 1 minute before finished kneading. Even if using a mixer, I transfer the dough to the board and continue kneading for a couple minutes. The dough should be smooth but a bit sticky.

  5. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 15-20 minutes. Even after this short period, the dough is significantly less sticky.

  6. Transfer the dough back to the board and divide it into two equal pieces.

  7. Form each piece into a pan loaf, free-standing long loaf or boule.

  8. Dust a piece of parchment paper or a baking pan liberally with cornmeal, and transfer the loaves to the parchment, seam side down, keeping them at least 3 inches apart so they do not join when risen.

  9. Cover the loaves with plasti-crap or a tea towel and let them rise until almost double in size. (About 60 minutes.)

  10. Pre-heat the oven to 375F with a baking stone in place optionally. Prepare your oven steaming method of choice.

  11. Prepare the cornstarch glaze. Whisk 1-1/2 to 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch in ¼ cup of water. Pour this slowly into a sauce pan containing 1 cup of gently boiling water, whisking constantly. Continue cooking and stirring until slightly thickened (a few seconds, only!) and remove the pan from heat. Set it aside.

  12. When the loaves are fully proofed, uncover them. Pull the sides of the parchment apart to separate the loaves from each other. Brush them with the cornstarch glaze. Score them. (3 cuts across the long axis of the loaves would be typical.) Transfer the loaves, still on the parchment, to the oven, and steam the oven.

  13. After 5 minutes, remove any container with water from the oven and continue baking for 30-40 minutes more.

  14. The loaves are done when the crust is very firm, the internal temperature is at least 205 degrees and the loaves give a “hollow” sound when thumped on the bottom. When they are done, leave them in the oven with the heat turned off and the door cracked open a couple of inches for another 5-10 minutes.

  15. Move the loaves to a cooling rack and brush again with the cornstarch glaze.

  16. Cool completely before slicing.

Parchment paper on peel, folded down the middle and dusted with coarse corn meal

Loaves on parchment. Note the fold separating the loaves and the rolled up towels supporting the sides of the loaves.

Loaves covered for proofing.

Crumb

Crumb close-up

I let the final build of the rye sour get really ripe. In fact, it was starting to collapse when I mixed the final dough. The resulting bread was extremely sour and very delicious. If you don't like very sour rye bread, either use the sour when it is younger, or, if your timing demands, you can refrigerate it over-night, until you are ready to mix your dough.

 David

Submitted to YeastSpotting

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Okay. I know this is a baking forum, but consider: Rye bread cries for pastrami, and pastrami sandwiches cry for pickles. In fact, the respondents to my recent blog on Jewish Sour Rye Bread  and Eric's blog on home-made pastrami have more or less demanded I share my mother's recipe for the best ever garlic pickles.

But, first,  you have to hear a story about them, you should be warned.

I don't make pickles often. Typically, several years go by between picklings, so there are things I forget.

A few years ago … about 25 years, actually … I put up a case of my mother's garlic pickles. (See the recipe, below.) My wife and I disagreed about the process, which is a normal step in the pickle-making procedure, but I am in charge of pickling in our household, so I did it as I remembered my mother doing it.

Well, after the pickles were in the jars and three days had passed, we took the jars out of the box to tighten the lids. The brine in the jars was fizzy with gas, and the contents were extremely cloudy. My wife, whose first career was as a clinical microbiologist, wanted me to throw them out; they clearly had bacterial contamination and were unsafe to eat. My memory was that my mother's pickle jars always got cloudy. This was normal. They hadn't killed anyone yet. I was sure they were just fine.

We continued this “discussion” for several days. Then, in exasperation, I called the University of California, Davis Agricultural Extension Service, after getting my wife to agree they would be a reliable source of health safety information regarding home preserved vegetables.

I spoke with the nice young women to whom I was transferred who identified herself as a consultant on home canning. I described the condition of my pickles. She asked for my recipe, and I gave it to her. There was a long pause. She asked, “No vinegar?” I confirmed that the pickles were made without vinegar. She told me that vinegar was absolutely required. Acidification of the brine was essential to prevent growth of bacteria, including Clostridia botulinum. Another long pause. “Sir, I believe you have a very dangerous product there,” she announced, with considerable emotion.

My wife, of course, reminded me she had “told you so!” But, I was unconvinced. I told the nice Cooperative Extension Service Canning Consultant I was just positive my mother's pickles always turned cloudy and gave off gas, and they hadn't killed anyone yet. I was sure they were fine. She said she was still sure I had a lethal “product,” but she would talk to the Cooperative Extension Service Pickle Consultant when he returned from vacation in 2 weeks and get back to me.

Two weeks later, as good as her word, the Cooperative Extension Service Canning Consultant called me back. She had talked with the Cooperative Extension Service Pickle Consultant, and she had learned something new which she shared with me: “You have not made pickles,” she announced. “Pickles are made with vinegar. What you have made is fermented cucumbers.” The Pickle Consultant had told her to tell me the way to be sure they were safe to eat was to look for carbon dioxide gas generated by the fermentative process and a cloudy precipitate in the brine, which was made of dead yeast bodies.

After waiting a week after I had eaten a few, to be sure the pickles didn't kill me or make me sick, my wife and children joined me in enjoying the delicious fermented cucumbers. 

Phyllis Snyder's Garlic Not-Pickles

Ingredients

  1. Pickling cucumbers

  2. Peeled garlic cloves

  3. Celery cut into 1/2 x 3 inch sticks

  4. Dried hot red peppers

  5. Fresh dill weed

  6. Pickling spice

  7. Brine made with 1 part un-iodized salt stirred until dissolved in 21 parts water.

Equipment

  1. Glass canning jars and lids

  1. Large pot to sterilize jars and lids

  2. Tongs to handle hot jars and lids

  3. Clean kitchen towels to drain sterilized jars and lids

  4. Large colander

Procedures

  1. Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water. Rinse thoroughly.

  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place jars and lids in the water and boil for 7 minutes.

  3. Remove jars and lids from water and drain on kitchen towels until they are room temperature.

  4. Scrub pickling cucumbers well. Drain in colander.

  5. Pack each jar tightly with a layer of cucumbers, upright.

  6. Over this layer, pour 1 tsp pickling spice, 1 or 2 garlic cloves, 2 dill sprigs (stems and flowers) and 1 pepper. (These quantities are for quart jars. If you are using pint jars, use half these quantities for each jar.)

  7. Pack the rest of the jar tightly with cucumbers.

  8. Insert 2 or more celery sticks in among the cucumbers. (These supposedly help the pickles stay crisp. Anyway, they are good to eat too.)

  9. Fill the jar with the brine to cover the jar contents completely.

  10. Screw the lids onto the jars loosely.

  11. Leave the jars in a cool place for at least 3 days. (If you want “half-pickles,” refrigerate the jars immediately at this point.) There will be significant carbon dioxide gas generate which will appear as tiny bubbles in the brine, and the brine will become cloudy with a white sediment which will eventually settle to the bottom of the jars.

  12. Tighten the jar lids and store them. The pickles can now be eaten, but will keep for a few years.

 Enjoy! 

David

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Greenstein's Sour Rye

Greenstein's Sour Rye

Greenstein's Sour Rye Crumb

Greenstein's Sour Rye Crumb

 

Back in May, 2007, there was an extended discussion about Greenstein's book and how come he provided only volume and not any weight measurements for ingredients. For anyone interested in that discussion, the link is: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/3042/keep-secrets-jewish-baker-better-secret.

I have made Jewish Sour Rye from Greenstein's recipe many times. It's one of my favorite breads. But, although I always weigh ingredients when the recipe gives weights, I have always made this bread according to the volume measurements in the book – that is, with adjustments to achieve the desired dough characteristics.

Today, I actually weighed the ingredients and can provide them for those who get all upset when they encounter a recipe that instructs them to use, for example, “4 to 5 cups of flour.” By the way, if you make this bread using ingredient weights, and the dough doesn't seem right, I advise you to add a little bit more water or flour accordingly. (Irony intended.)

Ingredients

750 gms Rye Sour

480 gms First Clear Flour

240 gms Warm Water (80-100F)

12 gms Sea Salt

7 gms Instant Yeast

½ cup Altus (optional but recommended)

1 Tablespoon Caraway Seeds

Cornmeal for dusting the parchment or peel.

Cornstarch glaze for brushing the breads before and after baking.

Method

  1. If you have a white rye sour, build it up to a volume of 4 cups or so the day before mixing the dough. If you do not have a rye sour but do have a wheat-based sourdough starter, you can easily convert it to a white rye starter by feeding it 2-3 times with white rye flour over 2-3 days.

  2. In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, dissolve the yeast in the water, then add the rye sour and mix thoroughly with your hands, a spoon or, if using a mixer, with the paddle.

  3. Stir the salt into the flour and add this to the bowl and mix well.

  4. Dump the dough onto the lightly floured board and knead until smooth. If using a mixer, switch to the dough hook and knead at Speed 2 until the dough begins to clear the sides of the bowl (8-12 minutes). Add the Caraway Seeds about 1 minute before finished kneading. Even if using a mixer, I transfer the dough to the board and continue kneading for a couple minutes. The dough should be smooth but a bit sticky.

  5. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 15-20 minutes.

  6. Transfer the dough back to the board and divide it into two equal pieces.

  7. Form each piece into a pan loaf, free-standing long loaf or boule.

  8. Dust a piece of parchment paper or a baking pan liberally with cornmeal, and transfer the loaves to the parchment, keeping them at least 3 inches apart so they do not join when risen.

  9. Cover the loaves and let them rise until double in size. (About 60 minutes.)

  10. Pre-heat the oven to 375F with a baking stone in place optionally. Prepare your oven steaming method of choice.

  11. Prepare the cornstarch glaze. Whisk 1-1/2 to 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch in ¼ cup of water. Pour this slowly into a sauce pan containing 1 cup of gently boiling water, whisking constantly. Continue cooking and stirring until slightly thickened (a few seconds, only!) and remove the pan from heat. Set it aside.

  12. When the loaves are fully proofed, uncover them. Brush them with the cornstarch glaze. Score them. (3 cuts across the long axis of the loaves would be typical.) Transfer the loaves to the oven, and steam the oven.

  13. After 5 minutes, remove any container with water from the oven and continue baking for 30-40 minutes more.

  14. The loaves are done when the crust is very firm, the internal temperature is at least 205 degrees and the loaves give a “hollow” sound when thumped on the bottom. When they are done, leave them in the oven with the heat turned off and the door cracked open a couple of inches for another 5-10 minutes.

  15. Cool completely before slicing.

 Notes:

  • Comparing Greenstein's recipe to Norm's, the former is a wetter dough and also has a higher proportion of rye sour to clear flour. Both recipes make outstanding sour rye bread. Interestingly, Greenstein says, if you want a less sour bread, use less rye sour.
  • Having never weighed Greenstein's ingredients before, I've never even thought about baker's percentages and the like. FYI, the rye sour is 156% of the clear flour. A rough calculation of the ratio of rye to clear flour indicates that this bread is a "50% rye."

Enjoy!

David

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