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Tzitzel Bread - The Journey Ends

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varda's picture
varda

Tzitzel Bread - The Journey Ends

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!  

 

Comments

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Varda,

It is so nice when persistence pays off!  You obviously had patience as well....

Now, after reading your blog, my interest has been piqued so I will have to pull out my copy of ITJB and, as usually is the case, add yet another loaf to my 'to bake' list.  :-)

Thanks for the nudge with direction~

Take Care,

Janet

varda's picture
varda

Janet,  We all have long lists, but I am guessing yours is longer than most.   Thanks so much for your comments.   If you do get to it, this is a delicious bread.   -Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Varda,

Well, this loaf finally made it to the top of my list and it has been a HUGE hit.  In fact, I have baked it 2x this week.  First time without the corn meal - thought I had some but didn't and then with but I am not sure if the corn meal I got is the 'right' kind.

 I actually bought 2 types.  One looks just like flour and the other is very coarse.  Yours looks almost like a combo of both.

This was a very easy dough to work with and shape...I was surprised with how well it held it's shape as a freeform loaf.  I even made rolls out of it and they turned out really well too.

The aroma in the house while it was baking was intoxicating - which is really why I baked it 2x in one week :-)

I have avoided using caraway in my ryes because as a child I didn't like it - smelling it or eating it....now, although I can't eat it, the aroma is a pure delight.

Thanks for bringing this loaf to my attention otherwise I never would have found it or baked it.

Take Care,

Janet

 

varda's picture
varda

that you tried it Janet.   And happy that it came out so well.  -Varda

ehanner's picture
ehanner

This is just a beautiful bread Varda. And what persistence you have when you set your mind to it. Sometimes it's just a few words that take you to the goal. Did you bake it just as printed in ITJB? Such a nice contrast and perfect rye crumb. Outstanding!

Eric

varda's picture
varda

but that doesn't stop people from trying.   Eric, I actually did follow the formula for Deli Rye as closely as I could - substituting in medium rye and KABF for the white rye and first clear in the main recipe.   My proofing was a little shorter than directed, partly because I was rushing to finish up before I had to go out, and I think it was a little underproofed, but maybe not much.   The dough was much drier than for the Jewish Corn Bread formula I'd been following, which was making me kind of nervous.    I mixed by hand (re my recent discussion with Andy) with a bowl of water to keep my hands wet so I probably incorporated more water into the dough that way.   Then when I set aside for bulk ferment, I brushed the top of the dough with a wet pastry brush.   That wasn't called for in ITJB but that's what I did for my earlier tries and it seemed right to do it here. Also, I think for Tzitzel the cornmeal is really important.   In the past I'd used Quaker cornmeal, which is too ball-bearing-like.    I'd also tried BRM cornmeal which is way too coarse.   This time I had Indian Head Stone Ground Yellow Cornmeal, which happened to be the only cornmeal available in my local supermarket, and also coincidentally was absolutely perfect.    Thanks so much for your kind words.  -Varda

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

crumb and crust.  Looks like you got what you were after : ) A beautiful loaf, Varda!

Happy Holidays!

Sylvia

varda's picture
varda

Sylvia,   I did feel like I got it.   Thanks so much for your comments, and happy holidays to you too.  -Varda

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Varda,

It's a great loaf of bread.   We only need to see the photos to know that.

Perfect!

Best wishes

Andy

ps. White Rye and Medium Rye are very different types of flour.   The water absorption is one thing; the flavour quite another.   White Rye can be quite uninteresting given the level of refinement.   Love the crumb colour and texture you have; a higher extraction of rye flour makes loads of difference here!

varda's picture
varda

Andy,    Earlier when I tried to make tzitzel I settled on a mix of white rye and whole rye, which was close, but no cigar.   The medium rye is absolutely critical for this.   Following your points on the perils of crappy stand mixers, I decided to mix this (and another loaf I made today) by hand.   I think it helped, although I may have been cursing a bit as I struggled with the dough.   Thanks so much for your comments and your help.  -Varda 

wassisname's picture
wassisname

A beautiful (and delicious) end to a noble quest, Varda!  Picture perfect inside and out.  I don't know what the word "tzitzel" means but it's really fun to say, I think that's going to be my new "I-can't-think-of-the-real-word-so-I'm-using-this-word" word around the house.  :)

Marcus

varda's picture
varda

Next up is world peace.   Thanks so much for your comments.   BTW, a little tidbit I picked up along the way - can't remember where:  Tzitzel=Caraway.   -Varda

Elagins's picture
Elagins

and they're the true reward Norm and I were hoping for when we wrote ITJB.  we're thrilled that we helped you rediscover a piece of your past.

Stan

varda's picture
varda

Stan,  It is ridiculous how happy it makes me to have made this bread.    I guess baking is more than baking.   Again, thanks for your help.  Your book is terrific, and I'm excited about baking from it.  -Varda

Syd's picture
Syd

Varda that truly is a beautiful loaf and your picture, alone, is enough to make me want to go out and buy that book.  The shaping, crumb and scoring are all spot on:  just like it had come out of the St Louis bakery itself.  I am so glad you found what you were looking for. 

Best wishes,

Syd

varda's picture
varda

Thank you.   Hope you get the book and try it for yourself.  -Varda

PiPs's picture
PiPs

A great story matched with a great bread.

I can only imagine your excitement of recreating a taste from earlier days. Taste and smell are so intrinsically linked with our memories.

The bread looks great in so many ways and the photos do it such justice.

Cheers,
Phil

varda's picture
varda

I appreciate your kind words.   It is great to be able to share these things with other bakers.  -Varda

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Lovely , Lovely jewish Rye, Varda! I'am glad you finally got the recipe, and executed it so well!

 

varda's picture
varda

I was sorry to read that you have been having difficulties, and I hope things improve.   A compliment from you means a lot to me as you are so direct and straightforward.  -Varda

holds99's picture
holds99

and a nice story also, which goes to prove that persistence paid off handsomely.  Your loaf looks about perfect from here.  Perhaps Thomas Wolfe was somewhat wrong, at least in this case. 

Happiest of holidays to you and yours,

Howard

varda's picture
varda

Howard, I'll have to reread and see if there are any loopholes.   Thanks so much for your comments and happy holidays to you.  -Varda

louie brown's picture
louie brown

with this loaf. It looks delicious and your descriptions are evocative. Your photography has imporved quite a bit as well. What's next?

varda's picture
varda

Louie, I'm sure something will occur to me, given that when one bread gets eaten another has to be made.   I've been taking the TFL photography class - i.e. looking at people's pictures to try to figure out what they are doing and sometimes just asking them.   I'm glad you see some improvements.  Thanks so much for your comments.  -Varda

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

better.   What a journey, what results !!

You did good, girl :)

anna

 

varda's picture
varda

Thanks so much.   And it's good to eat too.  -Varda

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I remember your first request for help with this bread very well! I'm so glad you finally got "it."

David

varda's picture
varda

you jumping in to help, which I appreciate.   I guess some things take longer than others.  Thank you David.  -Varda

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Beautiful loaf, Varda! Bravo! Spectacular!

Makes me want to drive to St. Louis and see if I can talk you out of a slice!

Persistence pays and goals are important. I am sure I speak for all of us when I say that I look forward to your future adventures and projects!

Happy Holidays!

Jay 

varda's picture
varda

reach St. Louis, you'll have to keep driving for a few thousand more miles.   But if you drive that far for Tzitzel, I'll  make you a whole loaf.   Thanks so much for your comments.  Happy Holidays to you.  -Varda

longhorn's picture
longhorn

I had this premonition that you were no longer in Saint Louis. If you were,  I had an ace up my sleeve...my wife and I are hoping to drive the Lewis and Clark trail from St. Louis to the Pacific this fall. Alas, I suppose it must begin without a slice of your bread!

I have never had that bread but I really like the look of it. Maybe in January!

Thanks! And please find another journey for I enjoy your posts!

Happy Holidays! Jay 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Varda,

I just finished a couple loaves of Tzitzel Bread, I was so inspired with your post. You got better expansion in the oven and I didn't get enough corn meal dusted on either. But they look beautiful and I'm certain the ham my brother is bringing from Michigan will make wonderful sandwiches. I'm going to work on this process and make it my signature deli rye I think. It's just so nice looking. Thank you Varda for your inspiration.

Eric

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Eric is ditching his Eric's Fav Rye for an interloper?!  Gah!  What is the world coming to?

Although I have to admit that Varda has hit a home run with the Tzitzel...

Paul

varda's picture
varda

(Hmmph, interloper indeed.)  -Varda

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

very much in cheek, Varda.  That tzitzel was beautiful indeed and Eric has a nose for rye.  There's no way he could resist something that good.  I just couldn't resist tweaking him a little.

Paul

varda's picture
varda

Paul, I've got to learn how to use them there smiley faces.   The problem with text is you can't see me grinning as I type.   -Varda

varda's picture
varda

So glad you tried it.   Hope you and your brother enjoy the sandwiches.  -Varda

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Varda,

Your Tzitzel bread is simply lovely! I've never seen one before now, but from here on any I might run across will be measured against this gold standard loaf of yours. Congratulations on a journey fulfilled and with such a marvelous looking loaf to show for it.

Best Wishes,

Franko

varda's picture
varda

Franko,  I was raised in a wonder bread world, with a few Jewish bakeries remaining to show that there was something else out there, so recovering this has meant a lot to me.   Thank you so much for your comments.   -Varda

skytop's picture
skytop

I can still remember visiting my grand parents and there would be a fresh loaf of "corn bread" sitting on the table. With a healthy schmear of butter, eating the bread was as close to heaven as I ever got.

Today, not only is corn bread part of history, but bakeries are almost gone too.  Only by the perspiration and initiative of artisan minded folks have the recipes for these cherished baked goods been rediscovered.

Thank you!

varda's picture
varda

And the bakers would have laughed at the word artisan since to them it was just making bread.  I agree - this kind of baking has to be brought inside the home, and a site like TFL is just a huge factor in helping to make that happen.   Thanks for your comments.  -Varda

skytop's picture
skytop

Jewish Corn Bread

                            This is a very confusing name, because there is no corn in this rye bread. The confusion arises because the German and Yiddish name for wheat is korn. Actually the bread is half-wheat, half-rye flour. Rye is a difficult flour for bread-making because it has very little gluten and rises only minimally. It is a good idea to leave the loaves in a cool place overnight to rise.