The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Jewish Corn Rye

varda's picture

Jewish Corn Rye

Several years ago, when I first started haunting TFL for clues on how to make Jewish Rye, I came across references to George Greenstein's Secrets of a Jewish Baker.   The breads I made from this book were god awful which had nothing to do with George Greenstein and everything to do with the (lack of) skill of the baker.   As time went on and I learned more about bread baking in general and Jewish Rye in particular, SOAJB got pushed to the back of the shelf and almost forgotten.  And yet people like David Snyder reminded me of it with his occasional Jewish Corn Rye bakes.    See for instance here.   Yum.  

The other day I came back to it   I decided to handle the volume measurements in Greenstein by pulling out the old measuring cups and then weighing what I did as I went along.   Then make adjustments from the weighed measurements going forward.   Since then this bread has become my new favorite.   I already make Tzitzel and Flaxseed Rye and Borodinsky and Schuster Loaf, so do I really need another rye on my plate?   Absolutely.   So good.   Must have more.


         Final        Sour        Total  Bakers %
KAAP181 18145%
Whole Rye1338621955%
Caraway9 92.3%
Salt7 71.7%
Rye Sour (80%)156 15622%
Cornstarch glaze   
Caraway to sprinkle 700 


Ripen 80% rye sour until pungent

Mix all ingredients

Bulk ferment until somewhat puffy (this took two hours today in 70degF kitchen)

Shape into a jelly roll and mold the ends shut

Proof until it starts to soften (this took 1 hour today)

Glaze with cornstarch mix (boil two cups water - dissolve 2 tbsp cornstarch in 1/4 cup cold water.   Whisk into boiling water until thickens and clear.)

Sprinkle with caraway seeds

Preheat oven to 500.  Load bread with steam for 1 minute.   Turn off oven for 6 minutes.   Bake at 430 for 20 minutes. 

Note that I did not use yeast in addition to the rye sour as Greenstein does.  Nor did I keep the fermenting dough wet as Greenstein says - just the regular old bulk ferment in a covered bowl.  


varda's picture

Hi varda, You have received a comment from Skibum on: "Jewish Corn Rye" ---- Lovely looking loaves varda!!!

I will definitely be trying this one! I initially had a couple of questions but the corn bread kornbrot post answered this quandry. When you let your rye sour go until 'pungent' I am guessing you like a sour kick to your flavour profile. How long do you let your rye starter go?

I just did a couple pf Per Reinharts's NY Deli Rye, a favourite of mine and this bread looks mighty interesting. Well done!!!


Hi.   I measure completeness of sour almost exclusively by texture nowadays.   So if the sour is not done it will be kind of hard like poking at playdough.   When it is too done it will be kind of gooey and sticky to the touch.   When it is perfect it has a really nice aerated structure and is light to the touch but not sticky or collapsing.   I try to catch it exactly at the moment.   Since I feed it at varying ratios depending on what I have to bake and when and how much, I don't go by time except for loosely.   So somewhere between 8 hours and 16 hours depending.   I'm always trying to guess the right ratio to feed based on when I will need it next and fortunately the window between hard and sticky is long enough that my schedules hold up.   These times may not be meaningful for you, as I bake almost every day so my sour gets a good workout.   I have also changed up the formula above since I posted this, as I found it a bit too wet, and in general the loaves were coming out too flat.    I also eased up on the long and skinny - still make a jelly roll but a bit shorter and fatter.   I haven't baked out of Reinhardt in a long time (or any other book for that matter) but I know he does good stuff.   I am looking foward to my trip to NYC and the great tips I got from TFL for where to find the genuine article.   Hope you are doing well! - Varda

tptak's picture

A quick question reg. the recipe format. You mention the Rye sour in the final ingredients list, and then have a column with sour's ingredients aside. Doesn't this break the percentage outcome?

varda's picture

Hi.  Meant to answer this earlier.   Baker's percentage is calculated on the total column - second from the right - which is the sum of the final dough and the contribution from sour.   Hope that's clear.   If not, let me know.

sirdank's picture

This is great bread and the recipe is so simple I tell my wife how happy I am with it over and over. I can't for the life of me get that nice, round cross-section like you have though. I try to let it bulk ferment until the surface appears to have bubbles under it and, through the underside of my glass bowl, I can see it becoming airy like the sour is when I spoon it out. Then I proof until I can poke it with my finger and it doesn't stick at all. It never seems to get taller while proofing though and, depending on how good a job of shaping a jelly roll I did, it might even settle down a little. It springs a little but I end up with much more of a gently sloping 'hill' than your beautiful loaves.

varda's picture

Hi.  I can't really tell what is going on - I am wondering if you rye sour is up to the task of raising the loaf?   How do you feed it and take care of it?   It needs to be quite strong and healthy to do the job.   Another possibility is that you are letting this go too long at either the bulk ferment or proof stages.    These rye loaves can be pretty tricky.   At our bakery, we occasionally let them go too long, and they flatten out and have a dull surface instead of a beautiful sheen. Even a few minutes makes a difference!

Good that you are making these and enjoying them!   That's the main thing.   



sirdank's picture

I keep a couple tablespoons of sour in an old yogurt and, when I want to bake rye (usually 2 or 3 times a week), I take it out of the fridge and feed it before going to work. When I come home 8 or 9 hours later, it's nearly doubled and occasionally has some little bubbles in the surface. Not sure I've noticed any cracking however (I've been trying to research high-percentage rye and saw several folks mention cracking). I might try sprinkling it with flour just to see.

It has been hot in my house this summer so that may be affecting it and my starter is only three or four weeks old. Also, this is my first high-percentage rye so I'm probably goofing up the bulk ferment as well as the proofing :) I try to keep my eyes on it but I guess I'm not sure exactly what 'puffy' and 'soft' mean when describing the dough. It is definitely more tricky than baking with wheat but I am really enjoying this 'mad scientist' baking (as opposed to the more straightforward and less risky breads).

dmsnyder's picture

It doesn't sound like you are over-proofing, but I'm not sure. I suspect two other issues.

First, be sure you are supporting the sides of the loaves during proofing. I proof this bread on baking parchment sprinkled with corn meal. I support the sides with rolled up kitchen towels tucked under the parchment. The purpose is to decrease the spreading out and flattening of the loaf.

Second, how you score the loaves impacts their final shape. Think about it. The loaf expands at right angles to the cuts. So, to minimize lateral spreading (which is the same as maximizing the roundness of the cross section), score at right angles to the long axis of the loaf. That's traditional for this bread and well-illustrated in Varda's photos in the OP.

Happy baking!


sirdank's picture

halfway through proofing or so and the slashes are nearly horizontal but I have not been supporting the sides of the loaf. What a rookie mistake! I thought, on account of its stickiness, it would be unsuitable for my couche and, therefore, couldn't need supporting. I will bake one of these tomorrow and try propping it up with parchment. Thank you very much!