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Rye Bread I (P, TNT)
Source: "Secrets of a Jewish Baker," by George Greenstein
Yield: 2-3 loaves

1-1/2 cup warm water
1-1/2 packages active dry yeast (scant 1-1/2 tablespoons)
1-1/2 cup rye flour starter (see below)
1-1/2 cup rye flour
2 cups common flour (I used regular flour)
1-1/2 tbsp. salt
2-1/2 tbsp. caraway seeds (optional)
Additional flour for dusting work top
Cornmeal or cornmeal & rye flour for dusting baking sheet
Cornstarch solution or water for brushing bread (see below)

For starter:
1/2 cup rye flour
1/8 tsp. active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp. caraway seeds (optional)
1 tsp. minced onion

For cornstarch solution:
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 cup (more) boiling water

Make Starter:
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until smooth. The mixture should have a thin, soupy consistency. Cover and allow to stand in a warm spot until bubbly and fermented. It can be left up to 24 hours.

Make Cornstarch Solution:
Before slashing the top of the bread and placing it in the oven, the tops may be brushed (painted) with a pastry brush dipped in a cornstarch solution made as follows: Dissolve cornstarch in water. Whisk cornstarch mixture into the boiled water until it thickens. This solution may be kept for several days.

For a high shine, brush a second time as soon as bread emerges from the oven.

Make Bread:
In the bowl of a dough mixing machine (the heavy machine that uses a dough hook), sprinkle yeast over the warm water and stir to dissolve.

Add the rye sour starter, rye flour, regular flour and salt. Mix with regular beater/paddle at the first speed until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Be patient. If the dough does not come away, run at the second speed for a few minutes. Remove and scrape down the beater/paddle and insert the dough hook and continue mixing at the second speed for 5 minutes. If the dough does not come away from the sides of the bowl, use the third speed for 2 minutes. If it still does not come away, run at the first speed and alternately add rye flour, then regular flour 1/4 cup at a time. This will be a wet sloppy dough.

Prepare a clean mixing bowl and wet by swishing water around the inside. Transfer the dough to the prepared bowl.

Keeping your hands wet at all times, remove the hook, pat down the dough and cover with a film of water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, set aside, and allow the dough to rise until doubled in volume (45-60 min, depending upon the humidity and room temperature.)

Prepare a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal or cornmeal and rye mixture upon which the bread will be baked.

Wet a clean work space or board generously with water. When ready, cover the top of the dough with caraway seeds (optional).

Keeping the hands wet at all times, scoop out the dough (or half the dough at a time for 2 loaves) and shape into a round by bringing the sides of the dough down to the middle and gathering it together until you have a large ball of dough.

Handle the dough gently so that it does not tear. Place it on the wet work top. Turn and push the sides down and underneath to further round the bread. Work your hands underneath and gently lift the loaf, then set it down onto the prepared baking sheet.

Smooth the dough down with a caressing, circular motion. Press down, flattening out the top; it will spring up in the oven. Sprinkle extra seeds on top if you are using them.

Allow the dough to stand no longer than 10 minutes. It can be placed in the oven without any standing time. Do not proof again.

Place an empty broiler pan on the oven floor and preheat for 5 minutes at 375°F.

Brush the bread with the cornstarch solution or water.

Place the baking sheet holding the bread on the middle shelf of the oven or on tiles or an oven stone if you have one.

Carefully add 6-8 ice cubes or 1 cup hot water to the hot broiler pan and shut the door.

Protect your hands and face from the burst of steam. Bake for exactly 5 minutes. Steam in the oven is not desirable after that time. After 5 minutes remove the hot broiler pan with the remaining water. Observe with caution the hot water and pan and put on a safe surface to cool.

Slide out the bread and with an ice pick, stipple 10-12 holes all around the crust; return to the oven, reduce the heat to 350°F and continue baking for 10 minutes, then stipple once more and brush again with solution or water.

When the bread begins to brown, turn the bread around to ensure even baking. Bake until the crust is hard an unyielding to gentle pressure. Timing will vary depending on the amount of moisture in the dough. It may take an hour or longer.

The bread is done when tapping on the bottom emits a hollow sound and the top and sides are hard. If you are using tiles or an oven stone, transfer the bread from the baking sheets to the tiles and continue baking for an additional 10-15 minutes to make the loaves crustier. Remove from oven, brush top with more solution or water and let it cool on a wire rack.

Poster's Notes:>
The bread will keep well for more than a week in the bread box. It also freezes well.

Posted by Sue Jaffe

Nutritional Info Per Serving: N/A