This is the rye bread that you’ll get when you order a sandwich at a kosher deli—it’s flavorful, slightly chewy, and a perfect complement to corned beef, pastrami, and other deli specialties, such as chopped liver. Rye flour accounts for only about 20% of the total flour in the dough, but in a higher concentration the bread would lose its characteristic texture. The dough is flavored with ground caraway and may also have whole caraway seeds added either to the dough or to the outside of the loaf. I wouldn’t do both. Thanks to my friend Tim Healea of little t american baker in Portland, Oregon, and Maggie Glezer, author of A Blessing of Bread (Artisan, 2004), for sharing their recipes.
Makes one 10-inch oval loaf
1/3 cup room-temperature water, about 75°F
1 rounded tablespoon sourdough starter, fed twice during the previous 24 hours
2/3 cup dark rye flour
1 1/3 cups room temperature tap water, about 75°F
1 1/4 teaspoons fine granulated active dry or instant yeast
All the rye sour, above
3 3/4 cups unbleached bread flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
1 tablespoon ground caraway seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons whole caraway seeds
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
One cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan covered with parchment or cornmeal
- For the rye sour, late the night before you intend to bake the bread, stir the water and sourdough starter together in a medium bowl. Stir in the rye flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the sponge ferment until bubbly, 6 to 8 hours. If it’s warm in the kitchen, it will be ready after only 6 hours.
- For the dough, the following morning, whisk the water and yeast together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir in the rye sour, followed by the bread flour and ground caraway seeds. You can add the whole caraway seeds in the dough or add them on the outside of the loaf before baking.
- Place the bowl on the mixer and attach the dough hook. Mix on lowest speed until the dough is smooth, about 4 minutes. Scrape the bowl and dough hook and let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Mix again on low speed, sprinkling in the salt. After the last of the salt is added, let the dough mix for 2 to 3 minutes longer.
- Using a plastic scraper, transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Turn the dough over so that the top is oiled and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough ferment until it is about 50% larger than its original volume, about 1 hour. If the room is warm it will ferment more quickly.
- Scrape the dough to a floured surface and flatten it to a disk. Fold the two sides in to overlap at the middle, then roll the top toward you, jelly-roll style. Return the dough to the bowl smooth (bottom) side upward, and let it rest again as in step 4.
- Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and remove the rack(s) above and below it. Place a roasting pan directly on the bottom of the oven. Preheat to 450˚F.
- Invert the dough to a floured work surface. Pull a section of the dough around the perimeter to the center and press it in place. Continue all around the dough until it’s round and fairly even. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel or oiled or sprayed plastic wrap and let it rest for 20 minutes.
- Invert the dough, smooth (top) side down, flatten it into a rough disk, and fold both sides to meet in the center. Roll the dough up from one of the unfolded sides. Invert the loaf to the prepared pan and cover it with oiled or sprayed plastic wrap. let the loaf proof just until it begins to puff visibly, about 30 minutes.
- Use an X-Acto knife or single-edge razor to make three short parallel slashes in the top of the loaf. If using the caraway seeds on the outside of the loaf, spray or brush with water and sprinkle with the seeds. Place the pan in the oven and add 2 cups of water to the roasting pan. Quickly close the oven door and decrease the temperature to 400˚F. Bake the loaf until it is well risen and has an internal temperature of 200˚F, about 30 to 40 minutes.
- Cool the loaf on a rack and serve it the same day, though it will stay fresh for several days loosely covered at room temperature. Wrap and freeze for longer storage.