The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Jewish Corn Rye

varda's picture
varda

Jewish Corn Rye


 


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.



 

Comments

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

What kind of rye flour did you use?


David

varda's picture
varda

Well, thank you, and also for the advice.  I used Hodgson Mills stone ground rye.   I think it would be considered medium, but the package doesn't say.  -Varda

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Varda,


That looks delicious! What a beautiful rich golden colour it is. I bet the taste was good.


Best wishes, Daisy_A

varda's picture
varda

Hi Daisy_A.   Thanks so much.   -Varda

Neener's picture
Neener

Hi there!


I thought I'd just pop in here to let you know that, while I'm sure this recipe yields a very tasty bread, it's not really critical to go through all of these steps to produce a very tasty corn rye.  I worked in a fantastic Jewish bake shop here in NY throughout high school and into college, and because I'm the nosy sort, I made the bakers and cake decorators teach me everything I could think to ask.


Corn rye remains one of my favorite breads, and the process of baking it at home is really a pretty simple one.  I've slightly adapted this recipe from Bernard Clayton.  First, of course, you need to make a decent rye sour. Two packages of dry active yeast (check the expiration date and make sure it's the latest available), two and a half cups of warm water (roughly 115 degrees F), three cups of stone ground rye flour, and two medium onions rough-chopped and placed in a piece of cheesecloth.


Mix the water and the rye flour together.  Sprinkle yeast over the mix, and stir it in to blend.  Place the onions into the center of the mix (really dig it in there).  Cover the sour with plastic wrap and place in a draft-free, reasonably cozy spot at least overnight.  You can keep it for up to 24 hours, and I usually use it about 14 - 16 hours after I've made it.


When you're ready to bake, take the onions out of the sour and test the texture.  It should be as soupy as a very thick pancake batter; if it's not, add about a half-cup of water to get it there (if you need more water, add it judiciously).


Pour four cups of sour into the mixing bowl.  Add another package of dry yeast and a tablespoon of salt.  If you want caraway seeds, now's the time to dump them in.  Once those have been stirred in, add a cup of bread flour and blend in (I start with a wooden spoon, then move to the dough hook when it gets too thick to stir by hand). Continue to add bread flour 1/2 cup at a time until you hit about four cups of flour.  The dough has enough flour when it consistently cleans the side of the mixing bowl.  Knead in the mixer with a dough hook for about eight minutes, then turn out into a greased bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.


I usually turn on the oven and set it to 100 degrees while the dough is kneading in the mixer.  When it hits 100 degrees, I turn it off again.  This simulates a proofing cabinet.  When the dough is in the greased and covered bowl, I put it in the warmed oven and let it rise for 30 minutes.  Then I punch it down, cover it with the plastic wrap again, and return it to the warm oven for another 30 minutes.


After the second rising, I separate the dough and form two round loaves.  I put those on a baking sheet generously coated with cornmeal, then cover the loaves with wax paper and a four-sack towel and let it rise for a third time on top of the stove for a little less than 30 minutes.  Start pre-heating your oven to 425 degrees.


Put a cup of water in a roasting pan at the bottom of a 425 degree pre-heated oven to start the steam for the crust about five minutes before you're ready to bake.


Slash the tops of the loaves about 1/4" deep, then brush with a water/egg wash.  Bake for about 40 minutes, tapping the loaves on the bottom to determine doneness.


 


This recipe yields loaves that are as close in crumb and texture and crust to the loaves they produced at the bakery in which I worked, and the three risings and sour-to-flour ratio is the same.  If you've got an equal amount of wet sour to flour in the dough, you'll get that chewy, dense texture and yellow/gold crust.


Two photos from the loaves I baked this morning:



 


varda's picture
varda

Well in reading your post, I must say that this is a lot more complicated and involved than the recipe that I wrote about, but no matter.   You have some interesting techniques here.   I do wonder about the crust.   Is it soft?  It looks so from the picture.    I have Bernard Clayton's book.   Can you tell me which of his recipes you adapted?   Thanks.  -Varda

Neener's picture
Neener

That's likely all me, as in rereading it, I sound like a wandering idiot, lol.  It's really very straightforward, and the best part is that you don't have to worry about adding water to the proofing stage.  The dough is easy enough to handle.


I haven't peeked into the Clayton book in ages, but I think the recipe was his heavy rye recipe, or heavy sour rye recipe. I know that I use less flour than his sour calls for, and I don't use the caraway seeds in the sour process.  I also guage the liquidity of the sour on feel, and if I need more than a half a cup of water, I use it without worrying about it.


The crust is hard when it first comes out of the oven, but once it's cooled, the crust softens due to the moisture content.  It retains a good bite, though, and again, tastes pretty darn close to the bread we produced at the bake shop.  It keeps reasonably fresh for about a week.

varda's picture
varda

I think the very wet proofing environment is what gives the tremendous crackle to the crust.  This came from both Greenstein's book and the comment by nbicomputers (whom I think is a retired baker from NYC but I may be misremembering) on David Snyder's post which was a request for advice about how to get a crackly crust for Jewish Rye.   When I first started trying to make this, I misunderstood Greenstein and submerged the mixed dough in water, which just made a holy mess.   But I can say that the more restrained approach of proofing in a wetted wooden bowl and brushing a layer of water on top really works.   Of course I'd rather have one of those oak proofing boxes that nbicomputers refers to in his post but such is life.   In any case I found several interesting things in your post that I want to incorporate into the mix (in my fervid brain) as well as take a look at what Clayton has to say.  Thanks.  -Varda

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

So this is a corn rye because you dust the loaf and the peel with cornmeal? That's all?


Jeremy

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

One explanation:  The word for a whole grain berry in German is "Korn."   How the letter got changed from k to c is anyone's guess.   I believe the word Corn was once Korn.  Whether or not whole berries are in the loaf is another matter.  Might have disappeared with the k.  :)

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

Thanks Mini


I didn't even think of the whole corn, kernel, quern thing --precisely because the recipe involved maize. Maybe that's all there is to it.


Jeremy

varda's picture
varda

Here's what George Greenstein has to say - "Europeans use the word corn to mean grain or staples which encompasses wheat, oats, rye, barley, and maize."   He gives a recipe in Secrets of a Jewish Baker for Jewish Corn Bread, which we would probably call Jewish Rye.   In naming my post about a very similar bread I was trying to compromise.   -Varda

Neener's picture
Neener

The German word for "grain" is actually "korn", and as was the case with many things that landed on Ellis Island, the spelling sort of changed a bit :-)


Varda, I can't imagine the soup you had to work with after submerging the dough that first time.  You are WAY more determined than I'll ever be, because I'm pretty sure I would have just chucked the whole thing and avoided the topic of heavy rye for a decade or so!

michaelc's picture
michaelc

That made me chuckle...thats exactly what I thought!! Reckon I wouldn't go anywhere near the damn thing again.


Love the posts by the way, and this site!

varda's picture
varda

until I discovered this site.   But I realize now that I got nothing going on that score, comparatively speaking that is.   And perhaps obsessive isn't a good word - persistence, that's the ticket.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

When after the end of the war starving Germans received CARE packages from America, they were asked what they needed most and they answered: "Korn", for baking. People were very surprised when next time they received corn (maize), and had no idea what to do with it... 


Maybe many would have been happy to get "the other" Korn instead - "Korn" is also a term for a liquor (Schnaps) made of grain.


Karin         

h2's picture
h2

Does anyone have a recipe or even a clear definition of Cissel bread? It's a type of light (both in texture and color) rye bread with caraway seeds, much lighter than a Jewish Korn rye.

varda's picture
varda

Hi.  I guess different people have different definitions for Cissel.   And spellings too.   I recently used Inside the Jewish Bakery's Old School Jewish Deli Rye to make what I considered to be a good Tzitzel.   This is quite a bit lighter than a Corn Rye, but not what I would call a light texture bread.   See this post.     Shortly afterwards, I was at a restaurant in Brookline, Mass and one of the bread choices was Cissel.    This was an extremely light rye with caraway, in a sandwich bread format, and not anything like the bread I would call by Cissel/Tzitzel.    I am also a bit perplexed by the word itself.   I have read that Tzitel/Cissel means caraway, but in what language?   Caraway in Yiddish, German, Hebrew are all variants of Kimmel.    Nigella which is sometimes referred to as black caraway is Ketsah in Hebrew which doesn't seem close enough.   -Varda