Jewish Sourdough Rye Recipe – The wonderful bread known from NYC

Jewish Rye Bread is famous all over the world. Nowhere in the world does it have the same iconic status as in New York City. Every delicatessen and sandwich shop serve the own delicious sandwiches on Jewish rye bread. While these breads are delicious, they often miss the mark in terms of the depth of flavor that you get from a long fermentation. I created my own version of this iconic bread, using sourdough starter as leavening, with a long cold fermentation to tease out all those delicious tastes hidden in the grains. This is my recipe for a Jewish sourdough rye.

A cousin of the Jewish rye bread is the Swedish limpa, which is a sweeter type of bread. They do love their syrup in Sweden.

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The history of jewish rye bread

Rye was one of the first cultivated grains. It is believed that it was domesticated around 1,000 BCE. It wasn’t necessarily considered the best food, and it was mainly consumed by the “large, unwashed masses”. The first written records on rye cultivation was by the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder around and 77 BCE. He noted that it was a “very poor food and good only to avert starvation.”.

The rye flour itself has a pretty mild flavor. Pairing it with a sourdough starter it brings out more of the sour notes that people really crave. The jewish bakers would often add caraway seeds or nigella seeds to the rye bread, which is what Americans often associate with the taste of a rye bread.

The two types of rye bread that was prominent in Europe was the kornbrot (korn being the Yiddish word for rye) or the schwartzbrot (the black bread).

sourdough rye bread on a board

The difference was in how much wheat was mixed into the bread. The kornbrot is made with more wheat flour mixed in. The schwartzbrot is made with mainly rye flour. The schwartzbrot is the type of rye bread that we eat here in Denmark.

The kornbrot was brought to the States by Jewish immigrants, and is close to what is being baked in Jewish bakeries in the States now. The big difference is that those breads are usually baked using commercial yeast and fermented much faster.

With this bread recipe, we’re going back to to the roots and fermenting the bread with a sourdough starter. Using a rye starter will make for an even tastier bread. You can use any starter, though.

caraway seeds on the crust of a jewish rye bread

The dough in this Jewish sourdough rye recipe

Vitals

Total weight1542 grams
Prefermented flour9.1%
Hydration70%
Yield2 small loaves

The dough

The flour choices for this bread are as follows: 65% bread flour for structure and gluten power, since there’s a significant amount of rye in this bread, you should use a very strong bread flour. 25% light or white rye for wonderful rye taste, but still a tender crumb. 10% whole grain rye flour for a boost to the rye flavor and also a bit of texture.

The inoculation is 20% and the salt content is 2%, which is very common.

The amount of barley malt syrup is 2.5% for some wonderful malted notes, which works really well with the rye taste.

We add 1.3% caraway seeds to the dough. If you really like the taste of caraway seeds you can easily double this.

WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
520gbread flour65%
200glight rye flour25%
80gwhole-grain rye flour10%
536gwater67%
160gstarter (100% hydration)20%
20gmalt syrup2.5%
16gsalt2%
10gcaraway seeds1.3%

If you want to play around with the formula, change quantity, hydration, inoculation, you can do so here in my Bread Calculator.

a jewish sourdough rye bread boule on a board

The conclusion of this Jewish sourdough rye recipe

If you mostly eat wheat based sourdough breads, you are in for a treat. This bread has a wonderful flavor profile. Wonderful rye taste, a distinct sourness, the mild anine notes and earthy notes from the caraways seeds, and the malted notes from the barley syrup.

It’s just the perfect storm of perfect storm of flavors coming together to create something larger than the sum of the parts.

The crust is super crunchy and the crumb is soft and moist.

The flavor pairs really well with meats and cheeses, but is also perfect all by itself or just accompanied by a wonderful thick layer of butter.

If you’re into awesome tasty artisanal sandwiches, the is the bread for you.

the crunchy crust of this jewish sourdough bread

Please share this recipe for jewish sourdough rye on social media

This is my recipe for jewish sourdough rye. If you like the recipe please consider sharing it with like-minded bread lovers on social media.

If you make it and post it on Instagram, please tag me as @foodgeek.dk so I can see it. That would make me very happy.

Ad links! Links for equipmement and ingredients in this recipe are affliate links, which means that I will a commission if you purchase the product!

Jewish Sourdough Rye

Course: Lunch
Cuisine: American, Jewish
Keyword: jewish rye bread, jewish sourdough rye bread, rye bread, sourdough rye bread
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 30 minutes
Proofing: 11 hours
Total: 13 hours
Servings: 2 small loaves
Calories: 1199kcal
Author: Sune Trudslev
Nutrition Facts
Jewish Sourdough Rye
Amount Per Serving (1 small loaf)
Calories 1199 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Sodium 3122mg136%
Carbohydrates 244g81%
Fiber 13g54%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 39g78%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Jewish rye bread is best known from the delicatessens and sandwich shops in New York City. Make a sourdough version of this wonderful bread that blows the rest of them out of the water.
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Ingredients

Dough

Topping

  • caraway seeds as needed

Instructions

Mix dough

  • To a medium bowl add: 520 grams of bread flour, 200 grams of light or white rye flour, 80 grams of whole-grain rye flour, 16 grams of salt, and 10 grams of caraway seeds.
    520 g bread flour, 200 g light or white rye flour, 80 g dark rye flour, 16 g salt, 10 g caraway seeds
  • Mix it up so that everything is well distributed.
  • Then add: 160 grams of sourdough starter, 20 grams of barley malt syrup, and 536 grams of water.
    160 g sourdough starter, 20 g barley malt syrup, 536 g water
  • You may want to reserve 50 grams of water in case your flour isn’t very absorbent.
  • For the right consistency, watch the video. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover the bowl.
  • Leave the dough to rest for an hour to develop the gluten.

Bulk fermentation

  • Do three sets of stretch and fold spaced out by 30 minutes.
  • Check the gluten development by pulling a windowpane. If it fails, rest for another 30 minutes, perform a fold and then go on.
  • Put it in a see-through bulking container with straight sides, and level the top of the dough.
  • Mark the top of the dough on the container and also where it will have grown 25%.
  • Put the dough in your proofer, or somewhere warm until it’s grown 25%.

Dividing and shaping

  • Drop the dough out onto the kitchen counter and divide the dough into two equally sized pieces.
  • Shape each piece into a ball, and let them rest on the kitchen counter for 20 minutes to relax the gluten.
  • Final shape into your prefered shape and sprinkle the top with caraway seeds.
    caraway seeds
  • Put the shaped doughs into bannetons and put them in the fridge. For at least 8 hours, up to 48 hours.

Baking

  • An hour before you want to bake, load a baking steel or stone into your oven. Add a dutch oven and heat the oven to 260°C/500°F.
  • When the oven heated for an hour, grab the dough from the fridge.
  • Dust it with rice flour to help it slide off the peel easily, and flip it onto the peel.
  • Score the dough using a lame, then add the dough to the dutch oven.
  • Put the lid on top, and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Then take off the lid and lower the temperature to 230°C/450°F, and bake for 25 minutes more.
  • Then take out the bread, and put it on a wire rack to cool off completely.
  • Bake the other bread the exact same way.

Video

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  1. Marti Reply

    Where did you find barley malt syrup? I’m in Sweden. I have made a comparable recipe but used Brödsirap. Bought wheat malt powder and used that also, good flavor with that as well.