The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

tzitzel

  • Pin It
varda's picture
varda

Not quite two years ago, when I joined TFL, I had a simple goal:   I wanted to figure out how to make Tzitzel bread which was a favorite when I was growing up in St. Louis Missouri.   I had recently started baking bread, and I figured how hard could it be.   When I searched the web, I found nothing for Tzitzel, but plenty of recipes for rye bread - many of which I tried.  Nothing was even remotely like what I remembered, and given my level of expertise, it was pretty poor eating.   I joined this site where I had been lurking for awhile and asked the question.   Again, no one seemed to have heard of it.   I did get a lot of great advice for baking Jewish Rye, and settled on "Jewish Corn Bread" which was a combo of some points in a comment by Norm (nbicomputers) on a David Snyder post, and one of Greenstein's recipes from Secrets of a Jewish Baker.   This kicked up the quality several notches, but still wasn't right.   When I started my quest, I had emailed the retiring owner of the St. Louis bakery, Pratzels,  where my father had bought Tzitzel.   Early on she told me that it was "just" a Jewish Rye wrapped in corn meal.   Later, when I knew more, I asked her again, and she told me that it was made with medium rye and bread flour.   It wasn't until a few weeks ago, when I got my latest shipment of King Arthur flours, that I had some medium rye to play with.   At the same time, admiring a gorgeous Challah posted by dawkins, I gave up my resistance  and bought a copy of Inside the Jewish Bakery.   And there was the answer - I was off base using the corn bread recipe.   I should have been baking Jewish Deli Rye.   On page 74 the authors include a paragraph saying that to make Tzitzel one should modify their Jewish Deli Rye thus and so, and voila - Tzitzel.   And so ---- Tzitzel.   Thank you Norm and Stan!  

 

varda's picture
varda


 


Over the last year I have been trying to make a Rye bread called Tzitzel, which I remember from a bakery in my home town - University City, Missouri.  The bakery is still there and still makes Tzitzel, but as I don't have much (any) reason to go back to U. City, I figured I'd better learn how to make it myself.  After many attempts, I finally felt that I managed to make a respectable Jewish Rye with a nice crust and flavor http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20506/jewish-corn-rye but it still didn't taste anything like the Tzitzel I remembered.   Recently I took advantage of the brief free shipping period at King Arthur, and ordered White Rye and Sir Lancelot flour, neither of which I'd baked with before.   I tried making Jewish Rye with these two flours instead of Hodgson's Mill Stone Ground Rye and King Arthur Bread Flour.   I started to feel I was onto something despite the fact that the white rye flavor was much too mild, and the loaves puffed up like a white flour wheat loaf, which is very un-Tzitzel-like.   Today I tried again with a rye sour made with 2/3 white rye and 1/3 Arrowhead Mills organic rye, which is a whole rye flour, but much less gritty than Hodgson's Mills.   This time, the shape (broad and squat) flavor and texture were much more on target.   So now I have one more thing to add to my long list of baking lessons that I've learned this year - the flour matters.   If I want to get any closer to the original Pratzel's tzitzel, I am going to have to find out what kind of flour they use, and that's that.



 


varda's picture
varda


 


Some time ago, I started trying to recreate a Tzitzel (caraway) Jewish Rye that was sold in a neighborhood bakery where I grew up.   But first I had to get more skilled at baking bread period.   This site was a font of information, and at one point, David Snyder gave me a pointer to a comment hidden deep in one of his two year old blog posts from nbicomputers http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/6103/craving-crackly-crust-sour-rye-bread#comment-31138.   After putting my Tzitzel dreams on hold for awhile, I decided to try again.   This time I went directly to Norm's comment and made a few modifications.  I did the following:


1 lb King Arthur Bread Flour (instead of First Clear flour which I can't get easily)


1 lb thick rye sour (built up from an existing rye starter with rye flour and water over the course of around 24 hours)


10 oz water


1 Tbsp vital wheat gluten (since I think First Clear is higher protein than even KABF)


.6oz kosher salt


.5oz instant yeast


caraway seeds


I mixed everything up in my kitchen aid for around 10 minutes - so long because the rye sour is very tough to blend with the rest of the ingredients.    Then I took a wooden bowl and rinsed it in water, and shook out the excess water without drying it.   This was to recreate the wooden box environment as described by Norm (see above comment).   I shaped the dough by patting it gently into a ball.   I know from having tried to make this bread before that trying to shape it after it rises is a lost cause, so I decided to shape it right after the mix.  Then I brushed water over the top with a pastry brush and then put a piece of damp linen over the the top of the bowl.   I let the dough double in size (this took around 1.5 hours).   Then I sprinkled thickly with corn meal.  Then with very wet hands, I transfered the dough to a peel covered with corn meal and then a hot stone and baked for 1.5 hours at 450 deg F.   Then waited overnight to cut.  It came out with very thick crackly crust and a fine rye flavor.   And I guess I'm starting to think that I will never recreate the bread I remember, but maybe this is even better.



 

varda's picture
varda

One of my goals in learning how to make bread was to be able to recreate a bread I ate as a child called tzitzel.   As I understand it, tzitzel mean caraway in Yiddish, and tzitzel is a rye bread with caraway and covered with cornmeal.   So far, despite many attempts and many different formulas, I have not come very close to recreating this memory bread.   Perhaps one can never recreate memory bread.    In any cases, my searches on this site, with its many rye bakers, led me to Greenstein's Secret of a Jewish Baker.   I have tried making his Jewish Rye (p. 136) a couple of times, and not very successfully given beginner's errors.   I have also made Jewish Corn Bread (p. 155) actually a rye bread with caraway wrapped in cornmeal, several times,  and despite many  beginner's errors, this bread is delicious enough to make me (almost) forget about some elusive memory of tzitzel.   The problem with Jewish Corn Bread, at least as I make it, is that while I can get it to taste good, I can't for the life of me get it to look good.   The instructions call for the following:  "[after kneading] Transfer the dough to a prepared clean wet bowl...pat the dough down and cover with a film of water....Allow the dough to rise until doubled in volume, 45 to 60 minutes."   This is the only rise for this bread.   And within minutes after it's done rising it goes straight into the oven.   I suspect that this treatment is what causes it to taste so great, and what makes it so addictive (to me anyhow).   However, it's a bloody mess when it comes out of the water, practically unshapeable, soggy in parts and so on.   And to make matters worse, I'm not 100% sure that his instructions mean to immerse it in water - although that's how I've read it.    Does he mean immerse the dough, or does he just mean spill water over it until it's thoroughly wet.    Also Greenstein gives all his measurements by volume, some approximately, and I just cook it that way, but my results have been pretty consistent, and pretty consistently ugly. 



I'll wait until tomorrow to post crumb photos.   I've learned on this site, that one must wait, wait, wait to cut into rye!


And the crumb...


Subscribe to RSS - tzitzel