Monday, May 31, 2010

'Levy's' Real Jewish Rye Bread

Monday, May 31, 2010
I have made bread in the last two months--really, I have.  I just haven't had time to string two sentences together.  But I've finally gotten so tired of seeing those hot cross buns that I must blog about something else.  I got some rye flour from King Arthur a few months ago, and I was worried that, at this rate, it would go bad before I'd used an ounce of it, so I finally decided that on this long weekend, when I didn't even have to bake a cake, I'd open the bag and bake some rye bread.  I looked for exotic recipes, but I couldn't find anything that sounded better to me than good old "'Levy's' Real Jewish Rye Bread" from The Bread Bible.
This bread is made using the flour mixture on top of sponge method, which is excellent because you can start it the night before you want to eat the bread.
It's also a great method because as the sponge starts to rise, it oozes up over the flour mixture, giving it an alien space-blob appearance.
See, it looks like it's taking over the poor flour mixture, which is being swallowed up by The Blob.
All is normal again, however, when it's kneaded.
Rose gives alternate directions for mixing by hand and by machine. This dough has to be kneaded by ten minutes in the KitchenAid, and I didn't even check to see how long it's kneaded by hand. Probably if I kneaded bread by hand, I wouldn't have to lift weights to try to stave off the batwing arms that you start to get at a certain age.
The bread rises for about an hour and a half. You take it out of its bowl, stretch it out, give it a business-letter fold, and let it rise again.
The wonderful thing about bread is that you can just stick it in the refrigerator at any point if, for example, you decide that you must go out and buy more flowers, even though you have no room in your garden for more flowers, unless you dig some up, or at least do some serious pruning. When you return, with $148 of flowers, (I think I need help!), the dough is just right to shape and bake.
I'm putting it on parchment paper on the bottom of La Cloche. The top is in the oven, preheating.
Rose learned from her grandmother that the best way to eat this bread is with unsalted butter, sliced radishes, and kosher salt, crushed with your fingertips and sprinkled on top. I had radishes, salt, and butter, and of course I had the bread. But I ended up using the bread as a substitute for hamburger buns for our Memorial Day cookout, and after I'd eaten a big fat hamburger, I had no room for the more genteel sliced radish option. Maybe tomorrow.

"Levy's" Jewish Rye Bread
--from The Bread Bible, Rose Levy Beranbaum
3/4 cup (4 ounces, 117 grams) bread flour
3/4 cup (3.3 ounces, 95 grams) rye flour
1/2 teaspoon (1.6 grams) instant yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons (0.6 ounces, 18.7 grams) sugar
1/2 tablespoon (10.5 grams) barley malt syrup
1 1/2 cups (12.5 ounces, 354 grams) water, at room temperature

Flour Mixture
2 1/4 cups (12.5 ounces, 351 grams) bread flour
1/2 plus 1/8 teaspoon (2 grams) instant yeast
2 tablespoons (0.5 ounces, 14 grams) caraway seeds
1/2 tablespoon (0.3 ounces, 10.5 grams) salt

Dough and Baking
1/2 tablespoon (0.25 ounces, 6.7 grams) vegetable oil
about 2 teaspoons (about 0.5 ounces, 16 grams) cornmeal for sprinkling

Make the sponge: Combine sponge ingredients in a large or mixer bowl and whisk until very smooth. Set it aside.

Make the flour mixture and cover the sponge: In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour mixture and gently scoop it over the sponge to cover it completely. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 1 to 4 hours at room temperature. (The sponge will bubble through the flour mixture in places.)

Mix the dough Add the oil and mix with the dough hook on low speed for about 1 minute, until the flour is moistened enough to form a rough dough. then raise the speed to medium and mix it for 10 minutes. The dough should be very smooth and elastic, and it should jump back when pressed with a fingertip; if it is sticky, turn it out on a counter and knead in a little extra flour.

Let the dough rise: Place the dough in a large container or bowl, lightly oiled. Oil the top of the dough as well. Allow the dough to rise until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Let the dough fall out on to a lightly floured counter, press it down gently, fold or form it back into a square-ish ball and allow it to rise a second time, back in the bowl covered with plastic wrap for about 45 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gently press it down again. Round it into a ball and set it on a cornmeal sprinkled baking sheet, or on a cornmeal-covered piece of parchment paper on the bottom of La Cloche. Cover it with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise until almost doubled, about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450°F an hour ahead of time. On a shelf at the lowest level, place a baking sheet or bread stone. Unless you're using La Cloche, place a cast-iron skillet or sheet pan on the floor of the oven (or the bottom shelf) to preheat.

Slash and bake the bread: With a sharp knife or singled-edged razor blade, make 1/4- to 1/2-inch-deep slashes in the top of the dough. Put it in oven; if you're using La Cloche, cover it with preheated top dome. Otherwise, toss1/2 cup of ice cubes into the pan beneath and immediately shut the door. Bake for 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 400°F and continue baking for 30 to 40 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Cool the bread on a wire rack.


BasilA_Carrill士銘 said...


Melinda said...

And I totally agree with BasilA _Carill. He is such a witty dude!

I enjoyed clicking on your buns the last 2 months.
This bread looks lovely. I, too, love the yeast as it oozes its way through the flour blanket. That stage of the process always makes me feel as though I am making a real artisan loaf of bread. It just seems such a hard thing to explain as a necessary step to do, to those people who just want fast bread.
I would make a Reuben sandwich with this bread. It would be heaven! If only.

Marie said...

According to Google Translate BasilA_Carill said "Gold and silver even more honed, more and more bright, even more challenges in life, even more glorious life."
Speaking of "even more glorious life," I just read in the NYTimes this morning that a person's happiness is lowest around 50 and then starts going up steadily, peaking at 85. I'm so happy to hear that!

jini said...

wow.....good words marie! i am even happier than several years! i would also be happy to bake this bread and will probably do that after a weekend trip for my nephew's wedding. i am not sure that melinda clicking on your buns was the thing to do....especially repeatedly! :)
did i mention that the bread looks wonderful and would certainly enhance a reuben!?

doughadear said...

I love that you can just refrigerate the dough and make it accommodate your time and not the other way around. The problem with me is that I usually think about making bread in the morning and then kick myself for not starting it the night before. Impulsiveness does not have benefits with artisan bread.
I have to agree this is the perfect bread for reubens which I love and yours looks perfect.

Marie said...

Melinda is a little weird that way. Have fun at the wedding!

I'll have to admit that bread is not the best thing to bake on an impulse. After all this talk about reubens, I have to admit that I've never actually made one, although I've certainly eaten my share.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Marie! Great post, and as usual the bread looks yummy. You inspire me :-)

Laura, NYC

Marie said...

You inspired me to get around to writing about bread again, so we're even.

Cooking in Mexico said...

I think refrigerating the dough for a longer rise is key to a yeasty flavor and developed structure. It is worth the extra time.


Anonymous said...

How can you call something a 'rye bread' if it only contains about 20% rye?

Why are bakers so scared of honest-to-god 100% rye bread? I guess I'm a rye snob - but anything else seems fake to me.

Anonymous said...

How can you call something a 'rye bread' if it only contains about 20% rye?

Why are bakers so scared of honest-to-god 100% rye bread? I guess I'm a rye snob - but anything else seems fake to me.

What a rude comment! Snob, indeed. I can't stand the tedious dogmatism of some bakers. It's called rye because it contains rye. Take it up with Rose, if you need a more authoritative defense. And leave one of my favorite bakers alone :-p

I love this bread and bake it often. I use only a fraction of the seeds, though, and usually a combination of caraway, anise, and fennel. Makes a killer grilled cheese sandwich. For some reason, it seems to bake nice as a batard, in my experience, though your boule looks terrific.

Post more, friend!


Vicki said...

What a nice looking bread. Pictures of $148.00 worth of flowers forthcoming? Your yard must be incredible.

Marie said...

Yes, I agree.

Thanks. Getting all exercised about how much rye flour a good loaf of bread has in it seemed a little odd to me, but whatever.... I was optimistic when I thought I could bake both bread and cake every weekend, and blog about them both, but I miss baking bread once a week. I appreciate the encouragement.

Sadly, $148 worth of flowers is not as much as you might think. I do love how my flowers look this year, though--it's been a perfect spring for the garden.

Anonymous said...

Sorry you took my comment about rye the wrong way. It's a good bread if it tastes good to you.

But don't you agree there's a general tendency to use the rye label to imply 'old world' / 'natural' / 'artisan', when the bread is nothing of the kind (marble rye?). I'm with Hamelman on this one.

Marie said...

I'd say this is a good loaf of bread, regardless of its rye content. I don't think I can agree that bread is good if it tastes good to you, though. Millions of people like Wonder Bread, but that doesn't make it a good bread.
I agree that plenty of bread is labelled "artisan" when it's made in a factory, but I've never noticed that that's unique to rye bread. I've had some 100% rye that's tasted great and some that's been awful, so I don't think the "100% rye" label is any more of a guarantee of quality than the "artisan" label.

Melinda said...

If I ever need a lawyer Marie, I am asking you to argue my case.

淑娟 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...


fotographiafoodie said...

That looks so heavenly and fluffy! It would be perfect with a stew.

Becca said...

I am so glad I found your blog - I too, love to bake bread and sometimes read "The Bread Bible" at night just for fun, or "The Best Bread Ever".

I love this bread! It is a yummy recipe and great as toast or for a sandwich.

Thanks for all of your great pictures and explanations! I will be checking here often.

Clydesdale Jogger said...

Digging your blog and made this rye today. I'm a relatively new bread maker and enjoyed you're insight to this as well as RLB's own in her bible.

I made this rye as a belated father's day present, but it would be too much for my own family (as I'm the only one who would care for it except when we make patty melts). In your opinion, do you think it would work to split this dough into two loaves? I can freeze one (or give it away) while I enjoy the other.

Marie said...

Clydesdale Jogger,
I've seen a few bakeries that make both regular-sized and mini versions of their breads, so I don't see why it wouldn't work for this bread. (Also, most bread recipes also work for rolls--another indication that you can play around with the size as long as you watch the time).
I like to slice bread first and then freeze it. I think it suffers less from the freezing and thawing that way, and it's perfect for toast. (I really like rye bread as toast, but that's just a personal preference).

Nancy1340 said...

When I make chococlate milk I only use one tablespoon of chocolate. Does that still make it chocolate milk?

When I make tarragon chicken I only use a tablespoon of tarragon. Does that still make it tarragon chicken? After all I do use lemon, salt, pepper and garlic in the recipe. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Bazinga, Nancy! Good one.

rlevy3 said...

This recipe is great!!! However, I made a standard loaf rather than round. It worked fine. Are their any suggestions on doing this?

t said...

Just made this today. Came out really good. Crust was crunchy (used Amy's Bread book method). Flavor was outstanding and texture was perfect. Hot day so all risings were half the time. Made a batard which produced a nice large loaf. My wife loved it and she is picky on Rye bread being from Long Island.

Great recipe.

breed said...

this looks great - and i love an american rye bread. IS the rye flour dark rye or white rye - i want to make sure i get the right one!

Marie said...

I used King Arthur medium rye, but I think either white rye or dark rye would work

Anonymous said...

I make this all the time but a double loaf. I use 2/3 ground Caraway to 1/3 Seeds (20G to 8G) double loaf. I also add 43G of wet sourdough starter to the double batch. Outstanding results!