Recipe Database
Deli-style Rye Bread
Deli-style Rye Bread
Serves: 4 one pound loaves

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (or 2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds, and additional for sprinkling on the top crust
1 cups rye flour
5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Cornmeal for pizza peel
Cornstarch wash for painting the loaf

This loaf, our version of a classic sourdough rye, started a 20-year obsession with bread baking. We believe that this method produces a traditional rye comparable to those made with complicated starters – the ones that need to be "fed," incubated, and kept alive in your refrigerator. This dough will make a very nice loaf on day one, but it will not be better than cake (assuming that you like cake in the first place!) until day two or three. Along with the caraway seeds, which give this bread its classic flavor, what sets this rye apart from other rustic breads is that there is no flour on the top crust; instead it's glazed with a cornstarch wash, which serves the triple function of anchoring the caraway, allowing the slashing knife to pass easily without sticking, and making the loaf beautiful. A word about rye flours: if you're using a true medium rye like King Arthur, you need less water. Whole-grain products like Hodgson Mills and Bob's Red Mill take more water, per our directions. "My grandmother truly did believe that this loaf was better than cake. It turns out that elder immigrants from all over Europe felt the same way about "a good piece of bread." Friends of Dutch and Scandinavian heritage also recall older immigrant relatives shunning ordinary desserts in favor of extraordinary bread." Jeff Makes four one-pound loaves. The recipe is easily doubled or halved. Mixing and storing the dough: Mix yeast, salt, and caraway seeds with water in a 5 quart lidded (not airtight) container. Mix in remaining dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, 14-cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with dough hook). If not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to get the last bit of flour to incorporate if you're not using a machine. Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top); approximately 2 hours. Dough can be used immediately after initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate remainder in a non-airtight lidded container and use over the next 14 days. On baking day, dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a grapefruit-sized piece. Dust with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Elongate the ball into an oval-shaped loaf. Allow to rest/rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 40+ minutes. Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat a baking stone to 450°F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray on any other shelf that won't interfere with rising bread. Using a pastry brush, paint the top crust with cornstarch wash and then sprinkle with additional caraway seeds. Slash with deep parallel cuts across the loaf. Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone. Pour one cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 30 minutes, until deeply browned and firm. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time. Allow to cool before slicing or eating.

(Adapted from Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François' "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day," Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin's Press, November 2007, $27.95) Performed and created at Publix Cooking School on 3/1/08