The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sour Rye Bread from George Greenstein's “Secrets of a Jewish Baker”

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Sour Rye Bread from George Greenstein's “Secrets of a Jewish Baker”

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

Comments

proth5's picture
proth5

Nice looking bread you got there.  I never thought I liked rye bread, but I realize now that I just hate carroway seed.  Rye is actually pretty good!

Just looking for some validataion here- after almost half a century fooling with wheat bread (see above for why) I find these ryes feel - well, a bit like wet cement.  I think that's how they are supposed to be (?) or am I doing something terribly wrong?  (Although my rye audience tells me they like the results...) Just askin'

Pat

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I'm afraid I'm unable to answer your question. I have lots of experience with rye bread but no experience with wet cement with which to compare.

Are you referring to the dough or the crumb after it's baked?

The texture of a rye bread crumb depends on the percentage of rye in the dough, the hydration and the other "usual suspects." The texture of the type of bread pictured above is toward the tender end of the tender-chewy continuum. Some high-percentage, dry ryes are crumbly. High-percentage rye, high hydration ryes I would describe as bordering on a pudding-like mouth feel.

Without belaboring the point, the diversity of rye breads is at least as great as the diversity of wheat breads, especially if you include those with a very low percentage of rye, like Nury's light rye, which is like a ciabatta with a little bit of rye flour in the mix.


David

proth5's picture
proth5

It's the dough that is like wet cement.  I guess having spent many "happy" hours with wet cement I have an unfortunate acquaintance with the texture. 

The crumb is actually OK - after 24 hours.

Jane seems to confirm that wet cement is appropriate at the 70-90% rye at which I am working.  For me, it's almost like being a beginner again.  I've got some transferrable skills but my hands don't have the muscle memory to "know" when things are "right."  Pratice is the only answer.

Milling my first batch of rye this weekend.  That should be an adventure...

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Pat.

From your comment, it sounds like I was advantaged by my lack of experience with wet cement. ;-)

High versus low percentage ryes are very different critters. 5-10% rye in a sourdough does amazing and wonderful things to the flavor of the bread. The ryes I have made have been mostly 40-50%, and the dough, while sticky, has enough gluten to work with wheat dough techniques. I have yet to tackle the 70+% rye breads.

From the comments of those who mill their own rye, it sounds greatly superior to store bought rye flour. Let us know how you find it.


David

Eli's picture
Eli

David,

Those look beautiful and I bet your kitchen smells as amazing. Thanks for sharing and I might have to give this a try. Since you have listed weights I feel more confident in trying a formula!

Thanks,

Eli

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Any bread baking makes the kitchen smell good. If you are shooting for the ultimate amazing kitchen smell, bake Norm's onion rolls! They taste pretty amazing too. But then I haven't tasted any since breakfast this morning.

I thought twice about posting this bake, since I had written about sour rye a few times already, but then I thought sharing the formula with ingredient weights was worthwhile. I hope you do give it a try, and let us know how it works for you.

This is a very easy bread to make, assuming you already have an active sourdough, ideally an established rye sour. There is essentially no bulk fermentation time, so it is really quick to make. The easiest mistake to make is under-proofing the loaves. Let them at least double. Otherwise, you will get sidewall blowouts, even with good scoring. Unlike most breads, you do not want too much oven spring.


David

Eli's picture
Eli

Somehow I seem to have posted and then reposted.Sorry!!

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Hi David,

Very good idea posting the weights because I also find it irritating in volume measures. There's no point in "following a recipe" if the measurements can't be pretty much spot on.

I'll definitely give this bread a try, it looks great!

I, like Pat, don't like the carraway seeds, but do love rye! In France we don't see bread often with them, so I haven't had the same imaginary dislike that many have for "rye bread" which conjures up images. Rye is a wonderful, versatile flour! 

When Pat says wet cement, yes, that's the way I see it. It isn't an elastic dough like wheat flour dough and the texture of high percentage ones does remind me of wet cement. Pat is doing a 80 or 90% these days? Am I right? I took a picture of that dough when I made it.

Have a good weekend!

Jane 

 

proth5's picture
proth5

Ok, I'm not totally off the deep end.

Practice, practice, practice.  If I'm ever happy with a loaf - I'll post the results...

Pat

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Very nice looking light rye David. You do seem to have the touch on those. I'm hoping this rye flour deal works out with Norm so I have a supply of light or medium rye.

Do you make your slashes after you brush the glaze on? From the image it's hard to tell.

 I've been having fun with my rye bread lately. We really enjoy the full flavor and aroma.

Are you able to get clear that is unbromated?

Thanks David for another inspirational post. I very much enjoy seeing your work.

Eric 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

When the loaves are fully proofed, I brush them with the cornstarch glaze, then slash them. I brush on the glaze again when they are cooling.

I use KAF First Clear flour. I'm quite sure it is unbromated.


David

Judon's picture
Judon

So beautiful Dave - thanks for another great lesson.

Excuse my ignorance - what's Altus?

Judy

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Altus means "old," as in "old bread."

My understanding is that, in the old days, bakers incorporated unsold loaves of bread into the dough for the next day's breads. This was to save money. This got to be so common that several European countries passed laws limiting the practice.

However, by then, customers got to like the effect of the altus on bread flavor and texture, so that rye bread made without altus did not seem "right." Instead of being how cheap bakers cheated their clientele, it was a special feature that was recognized as a sign of quality.

Anyway, folklore aside, altus is made from stale rye bread. Cut the crust off (or not). Cut the bread in cubes. Soak the bread in water. (Cold water, overnight. Hot water, a few minutes.) Wring it out. It should be mush but not with free water. Use about 1/2 cup of this per pound of flour. (That's a very rough estimate.) It is used in Jewish sour rye and pumpernickel, especially the latter.


David

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The altus isn't "stale old bread" it is just a few days old, maximum.  We all know that doesn't mean stale! In fact I find it quite interesting that if the altus is sourdough, and it is mixed with a straight dough, the sour continues on in the new bread, even aging like a sourdough gradually getting more sour with each day! If the loaf is all altus, then I would have to call it a knödel or bread dumpling....:)

Mini O

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hiiiii, Mini.

Pace! I have not defined "stale." It's a matter of degree.

In fact, when I make altus, I use rye bread that is sometimes 3 months old. (From the freezer.)

My ryes are all sourdough, so I'm interested in what you say about mixing altus with a straight dough. Do you mean altus could be used as a starter? Or just that it will add a sour flavor to the straight dough?

Oh! And I want a recipe for "bread dumpling," please.


David

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

to get back to you.  Somehow I missed it but there was a lot going on at the time between getting a root canal and speeding up a titanium tooth implant (even synthetic bone and skin!) for the tooth I had removerd earlier not to mention my stomach problems with NISADS (was my own fault) me having over sensitive teeth and then a transfusion (a donor I suspect masculine with a healthy appetite for seafood and kimchee) and proceeded to pack flying off to Hawaii where I helped my nephew who was flying off to serve (who by the way is returning this week) by helping his young wife (also recovering) pack up their household goods for storage, me being a wee bit experienced in such matters, and then returning here and packing for Austria where I landed on the first Advent Sunday and naturally got sucked into all the commotion of the holidays with barely a chance to catch my breath although I do remember looking up some dumpling recipes for some reason.  Did I ever send you some? I hope you can forgive me.


And to answer your question, Yes.  I added sourdough altus into a non-sourdough recipe.  Don't know why I did that.  As I rarely add rye altus to anything but rye and I always sour my rye.  Hmmm.  Must have been a flour in need of flavor and I'd been low on rye and/or been in a hurry (no time for a poolish) to get that bread out on the table and then the loaf hung around for several days until we ate it up that I could make such an observation. 


Mini

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Okay. Any one of your excuses would have served ... or none. 


You make me wonder about adding altus in lieu of rye flour to a white sourdough, for example a pain de compagne. I might give this a try.


If you sent me the dumpling recipe, I've forgotten. I certainly never made them. My dumpling experience is limited to chicken and dumplings and spaetzle. We love both. Oh, and matzo meal knoedlach ("matzo balls"), of course.


If you do send the recipe, I'd appreciate knowing how you pair them with other foods and how you serve them. I'm a real dumpling noobie (with the above exceptions).


David

holds99's picture
holds99

Thanks for posting the recipe.  The altus is an interesting idea.  I'll give your recipe a try and hope I get half as good results as you did.  I've made Greensteins recipe a number of times but have have never achieved the lovely loaf with the nice, open crumb you show here. 

Congrats.

Howard

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

These loaves are typical of what I get with this recipe. If you are getting a denser crumb, it may have to do with not developing the gluten enough or with not proofing enough. With this much rye, you will not get the kind of crumb you would with a white wheat sourdough, of course.

Let us know how yours turn out.


David

Yumarma's picture
Yumarma

David, those look amazing. I tried to make a rye batch a few weeks back but alas, it went rather flat. Again this is my inexperience showing up. It was Marc's (Back home Bakery) Sour Rye recipe so you know there was nothing wrong with the instructions, just me.

I must give this a try. Thanks for adding the weights, it will make me less iffy about the process.

BTW, when you say "I advise you to add a little bit more water or flour accordingly" exactly how many grams* are you suggesting?

And a slightly more serious question: what's a fair substitute for "First Clear" flour? Up here in Canuckistan, we don't get much choice in flour types at all. One can hardly find Bread Flour even, except in small $10 5k bags.

 

 

 

 

(* Hehehe)

--------
Paul

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I don't think there is a perfect substitute for First Clear flour, because of how it's milled. It is high in protein and high in ash.

You can substitute bread flour, but it won't taste the same and it's not readily available to you, I gather. A 50-50 mix of whole wheat and AP flour may be as close as you can get. Another option, if you have coarsely milled whole wheat flour, is to sift it to remove part of the bran.

It's ironic that you can't find a greater variety of flours, being in one of the world's great wheat growing nations.

I don't recall where in Canada you are, but if there is a Jewish bakery you can get to, they may use First Clear flour and might sell you a few pounds.


David

Jeremy's picture
Jeremy

David, what is altus?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

See the discussion in this topic's previous entries.
David

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

David,
it's a wonderful bread. Can you tell me if First Clear flour is a high gluten flour?
Thanks.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

It is a high-protein, high-ash flour.


David

Alfie's picture
Alfie

Your loaves look gorgeous so how did I mess up.


I used a stone ground organic rye flour along with KA First Clear.  The dough was extraordinarily sticky. Are wet hands the best way to work with it?  If it proofs too much does it just spread out?  I had to go out of the house and they spread out. 


Could they be retarded in the frig for a few hours or overnight without problems?


Each loaf weighed about 25 oz.  Previously I have been more successful with sourdough rye.


Thanks in advance,


Al


PS.  My dear ol' dad would be embarressed because he was a professional baker for 50 years and made a good few loaves of sourdough rye.


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I've never over-proofed this bread, but I can imagine it would lose it's structural integrity and spread out. 


I work mostly with lightly floured hands, but others like wet hands or oiled hands.


I never retard rye breads. I'd be afraid of over-fermentation. Other's may have different experience.


David

Candango's picture
Candango

David,  Thank you very much for the recipe, especially for the weights vs volume measures, for the Jewish Sour Rye.  And thanks for the explanation of Altus.  It looks like a fun recipe to try.  But in reading the detailed steps, either I am missing something or you accidentally left out the Bulk Fermentation step.  You note a 20 minute resting period for the dough, followed by the shaping and final proof.  Is this an especially fast acting sourdough or is there a step missing?  Thanks.


Bob

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Bob.


The procedures are correct as written above. The "rest" period serves as the total bulk fermentation.


It's not just that the rye sour is very active, it's also a very high percentage of the total flour that is "pre-fermented."


Hope this helps.


David

Candango's picture
Candango

David,  Thanks for your response.  I have a white (wheat flour) starter which I made this past summer from Sourdo Lady's formula of pineapple juice and rye flour, and then converted to a wheat flour starter and reduced the hydration to about 50% as it lives in the fridge between weekly bakes.  I will happily convert part of it to a rye starter, and I am "guesstimating" that you have in mind a 100% hydration starter.  OK.


I was then looking at the various percentages.  I guess you were just about spot on when you noted that the formula is about 50% rye  (counting the rye in the Altus as well, but that was an estimate, not knowing the weight of the rye bread in a 1/2 cup measure of soaked rye bread).  And then the hydration.  My guesstimate is somewhere around/above the 70% mark, again depending on the Altus.  That brings me to my question:


Will such a high hydration loaf stay up by itself as a free-standing loaf (baton) during the proofing or, to avoid it spreading out on the parchment, will it need the support of a banneton?  Sorry for all the questions, but I usually don't work with such wet doughs.  The sourdough rye I have been doing most successfully as a free-standing loaf is my variation of Rose Levy Beranbaum's formula, with increased starter, a smidgeon of yeast and a slightly reduced hydration.  Also with only about 17% rye in the mix.  So you can see, your recipe will be a departure of sorts and I would just like to prepare myself for what to do and what might be likely to happen.  Many thanks,


Bob

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I have always proofed this bread on a parchment "couche." That is, I cut a large sheet of parchment and tent it in the middle. I place one loaf on each side of the tent and support the outsides of the loaves with rolled up kitchen towels under the parchment.


If you have a linen couche, you could use that. I've not used brotformen, but there is no reason you couldn't use them, if you have them.


David

Candango's picture
Candango

Thanks again, David.  I have tried the parchment couche routine and found that it generally works.  I am thinking about bannetons, but they are for the future.  Will give the parchment routine a go.


Bob

hanseata's picture
hanseata

David, I just read this thread for the first time. Your information regarding the altus is very funny - I had no clue, but it seems very plausible!


You said you never retard rye sourdoughs for fear of overfermentation. I alway do, I retard nearly all my doughs to fit my little bakery's baking schedule. I never had a problem with overproofing.


The (American) Jewish Rye is much like other German or East European farmers' loaves - the only difference is the heavy overdose of caraway found in many of them (I was very pleased when I saw Hamelman shared that sentiment!).


I'll soon make your wonderful San Joaquin Sourdough again...


Karin


 


 

Candango's picture
Candango

David, I just made the Jewish Sour Rye recipe. Thanks for all your help. I have taken a photo (using the webcam) and will try to attach it to this post.  Didn't work.  Another time.


   The crumb will come later, after it has cooled. Looking at percentages, as the Altus took only 100 gr of water for the half cup, and only 45 gr of old rye to produce the desired "mush" consistency, I factored those numbers in to totals (750gr of Rye Sour at 100% hydration = 375 gr rye flour, plus the 45gr in the Altus = 420 gr. Weighing this against the 480gr of First Clear gave me 47% rye. Looking at the hydration, I had 375gr water in the sour (and I reduced the additional water by 20gr for sanity's sake, as I have never handled a dough this wet or sticky before and I did not want to mess it up. So 220gr water (vice 240), plus 100gr in the Altus gave me a total of 695 gr of water, measured against 926 gr (420 total rye, 480 wheat flour, plus salt, yeast and caraway on the dry side), for a total of 75% hydration.


    I used the "tented parchment" as a brotform for the two batards. I used the glaze both before and after baking, as you had suggested. After baking, they had the right color, internal temp and hollow sound when thumped. I let them cool thoroughly for several hours before slicing the first loaf. It was completely cool, but the slices were still moist and almost mealy, as if not completely baked, on the inside. Perhaps it is because this is such a dense bread. I don't know. After slicing the first loaf, I will let everything dry out completely before slicing the second loaf.


   I was wondering if the glaze before baking sealed the bread and prevented some of the moisture from evaporating during the bake. Just a thought.


   As to First Clear flour, there seems to be considerable discrepancy as to exactly what it is, or rather, to wat does it equate. Looking at all the tables, I understand that it is the first flour derived after the patent flours have been milled. But it appears that the millers use a different vocabulary than the supermarkets. The latter, and bakers, speak in terms of flour by type and protein percentages, from Cake to Pastry to AP to BF to Hi-Gluten. First Clear is not in the mix. George Greenstein indicates that it is a lower protein flour and that one can substitute a blend of AP and cake flour in his recipe. On the other hand, you say that it is a high protein flour and to substitute Bread Flour. Boy, is this confusing.


   Thanks in advance for your comments.


Bob

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Hi David. I might have missed something - a common enough occurrence! - but I can't work out the hydration of your rye sour in the recipe posted above. I'm assuming you're using the rye sour build method of Greenstein's you detail in your VERY useful post here, but just want to be sure. Could you clarify please?

Also, just wondering if there's a practical reason for scoring across the loaf rather than at a slight angle to its vertical axis as per wheat breads - or can I put this down to tradition?

Best of baking!
Ross

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Ross.

While I am an advocate for weighing ingredients in general, you have discovered my one exception. When I'm building my rye sour, I do it by "feel." I shoot for a thick paste, but not so thick it clears the bowl sides when stirred. The ratio is somewhere around 1 cup of rye flour to 1/2 cup of water. (1/4 of the flour is reserved to sprinkle over the sour, completely covering it. That's tradition.)

The reason for the transverse scoring is more rational. This pattern encourages the loaf to expand longitudinally, not laterally. This results in a higher rise and a rounder cross section. It is to compensate for the more modest gluten content and oven spring of rye. The transverse cut is a German or Eastern European tradition. The French score rye breads with either a herringbone pattern ("Chevron") or a "sausage cut" which is about 45 degrees from the long axis of the loaf.

You might review the Scoring Tutorial for more discussion of the effects of scoring patterns on loaf shape.

Hope this helps.

David

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Thanks David.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I didn't know that about the transverse scoring - makes sense, though. You are fountain of wisdom, David (apart from being the creator of the  San Joaquin Sourdough).

Karin :)

highmtnpam's picture
highmtnpam

cookbook and it is a wonderful addition to have weights for some of my favorite breads.   Thanks.

Pam

vstyn's picture
vstyn

Dave

Nice rye bread! 

Can ask how do you steam your oven? 

I just tried this recipe and the breads turn out bad. 

I made the starter and then the sour.  I followed your recipe, and I believed everything was going good at this time.  The rise that the doubles the bread went well, I think!  When I applied the corn starch and the scoring, the breads deflated.  I steamed the oven with the rolled towels in the bread pans, and placed the deflated bread on the pizza stone.  I turned the oven off when the bread reached 205F, and left them in the oven for 10 minutes.  The end results where, one bread rose a little in the oven and the other didn't.  They both had very hard bottom  crust.  The caraway seeds were grounded up by dough hook.  I believe!  The inside of the bread tasted good! I need to make this recipe to work! My family loves Jewish rye bread.

I think, I may be over kneading in the mixer, or over rising on the final rise before the oven. I may be over doubling (rise) the bread.

Help!

Thank you

Vic

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Vic.

If the loaves deflated, you over-proofed them. 

I steam my oven with a cast iron skillet filled with lave rocks. This is pre-heated for 45-60 minutes. Just before loading the bread, I place a perforated pie tin filled with a single layer of ice cubes on top of the skillet.

My steaming apparatus (minus the ice cubes)

Hope this helps.

David

vstyn's picture
vstyn

Dave

Thank's for your advise and pic.

Next question! What can I do with left over rye sour that I have in the refrig. I followed George Greenstein recipe for rye sour. Happy Easter!

 

Thank you

Vic