Maggie Glezer sent me this recipe for deli-style rye bread from Michael Yoss, after I showed her pictures of my Whole-Grain Barley Bread With Barley Grits. It’s one of our favoured breads, but I often omit the glaze.
THE DAY BEFORE BAKING MIXING AND FERMENTING THE FIRST BUILD
Late in the morning, dissolve the sourdough starter in the water in a small bowl, then stir in the rye flour. Let this sour ferment for 8-10 hours, or until fully puffed and starting to fall.
MIXING AND FERMENTING THE SECOND BUILD
Just before going to bed, dissolve all of the first build in the water in a larger bowl, then mix in the
rye flour. Let the sour ferment for 8-12 hours, or until it has puffed and started to collapse.
BAKING DAY MIXING AND RESTING THE DOUGH
Add the water to the rye sour in its bowl, and mix it to dissolve it. In the work bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flours, yeast and salt. Pour in the dissolved sour, and mix the dough on low speed with the dough hook until it is soft and smooth, about 7 minutes.
Add the caraway seeds, if using them, and continue to mix the dough until they are well dispersed. Remove the dough from the stand, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 10-20 minutes, or just until it begins to rise. The dough should feel fairly and smooth, and be just a little tacky.
PREHEATING THE OVEN, SHAPING THE DOUGH, AND PROOFING THE DOUGH
Arrange an oven rack on the center rack, place a baking stone on the rack, remove all racks above it, and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C, gas mark 8). Sprinkle a peel or other thin flat board with fine cornmeal. Lightly flour a work surface, then turn the dough out onto the surface and press it into a thick flat rectangle. Cut the dough into two equal pieces and cover one piece while working with the other. To shape the loaves, fold both sides into center of the dough and press the dough again to even its thickness. Roll the dough up into a log with the folded-in sides at the ends to make a log that is about 3 inches (8 cm) in diameter by 9-inches (23 cm) long. (Basically you want to make a short fat log to have big slices of bread for sandwiches.) Roll the log back and forth to even it, then place it seam-side down on the peel or thin board directly on the cornmeal. Shape the other piece and then cover both well with plastic wrap. Let the loaves proof for about 1 hour.
BAKING THE BREADS
Have a water sprayer ready. When the dough has tripled and does not push back when gently pressed with your finger but remains indented, slash several deep crosswise cuts into the loaves with a single-sided razor or very sharp knife (FYI: some bakers used 2 cuts to mark a 2 pound loaf and 3 cuts to mark a 3 pound loaf). Slide the loaves onto the hot stone and very quickly spray them heavily with the water. Let the loaves bake for 1 hour. After 10 minutes, lower the heat to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C, gas mark 6). After another 30 minutes of baking, turn the loaves from front to back so that they brown evenly, and continue to bake the breads for another 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown and have a hollow sound when thumped on their bottoms.
COOKING THE STARCH GLAZE
As the loaf is baking, mix the starch with the water and simmer the mixture, whisking constantly, until the glaze is clear and viscous. The glaze should be thick but easily spreadable. Add water to thin it or let it cook down if it is too thin. When the consistency is right, let it cool. When the loaves are just removed from the oven, brush them with the glaze. As soon as that layer of glaze is dry to the touch, brush them again for a high shine. Let the loaves cool on a rack.
Skill level: Expert Yields 2 two-pound (900 g) sandwich loaves time required: 20 hours before baking day, then just 3 hours on baking day Recipe synopsis: Have ready an active sourdough. The day before baking, mix the first sour in the late morning, and the second build in the evening before going to bed. The next morning, mix the dough. Let the dough rest briefly, then shape it and let it proof for about an hour. Let the breads bake for one hour.
For corned beef, tuna salad, cheese sandwiches, or any other deli sandwiches, this is the classic rye bread you want. Light in texture, with a thin, chewy, shiny crust, this bread has a caraway bite underscored by a light sourdough rye tang. You will need a strongly fermenting sourdough starter ready to start the first build of the rye sour.
Unlike most wheat-based sourdough breads, rye sourdoughs usually are only flavored with the sourdough and leavened with yeast. Sourdough ryes quickly become extremely sour and gummy, which the addition of yeast prevents. Also note that the dough has almost no fermentation time, only a brief rest before it is shaped (again because rye sourdoughs get unmanageably gooey so quickly), making it a fast project on baking day. You needn’t worry about flavor development; a good rye sour provides plenty.
You can make this bread with white or medium rye flour. The classic deli loaf uses white rye for its lighter color and texture, but if you prefer a heartier rye flavor and darker color, use medium rye flour. White rye is milled from the center of the rye endosperm, while medium rye flour includes the entire rye endosperm but none of the bran or germ.
The clear flour in the recipe is very hard to come by, and must be bought from a bakery or mail ordered (see Sources). Milled from the outer portions of the wheat’s endosperm including the mineral-rich aleurone layer just beneath the bran, it is a much darker-colored flour than a typical bread flour without actually being a wholewheat flour. At 15% protein and with an ash content of 0.8%, it adds a lot of gluten strength, color and flavor to the dough and is critical to the deli rye’s unique texture.
When Mr. Yoss and I baked this bread together, he wanted to see if the crust would shrink and crackle when it came out of the oven, an effect he calls alligatoring. When the little plates of crust popped up, he was very pleased. The bread needs to be proofed and baked not too much and not too little to get this affect.
This recipe makes a lot of bread–halve or even quarter it if need be.
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