Based on “‘Levy’s’ Real Jewish Rye Bread” in The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.
For the sponge:
- 3/4 C (117 g) bread flour
- 3/4 C (95 g) whole rye flour
- 1/2 tsp (1.6 g) instant yeast
- 1 1/2 Tbsp (19 g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 Tbsp ( 11 g) honey
- 1 1/2 C (354 g) 70–90°F (21–32°C) water
For the bread mixture
- 2 1/4 C (351 g) bread flour
- 5/8 tsp (2 g) instant yeast
- 2 Tbsp (14 g) whole caraway seeds
- 1/2 Tbsp (11 g) salt
- 1/2 Tbsp (7 g) neutral vegetable oil
~2 tsp cornmeal for sprinkling on the baking sheet
Make the sponge
- Combine all the sponge ingredients in the bowl of your mixer, making sure the water temperature is at the proper temperature, and beat them together well with a whisk.
- Mix together the rest of the dough ingredients (flour, seeds, salt, yeast) except the oil and spoon them gently on top of the sponge batter.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place to proof. Use a ChefAlarm to monitor the temps, including the min and max temp achieved. Keep the area between 85 and 105°F (29 and 41°C). Allow it to ferment for 1-2 hours. The wet mixture will bubble up through the flour.
Mix the dough
- Place the mixing bowl on the stand mixer and add the oil to the bowl.
- Mix with the dough hook on low speed until a rough, shaggy dough has formed.
- Increase the kneading speed to medium and knead for 10 minutes (a TimeStick® could help here). The dough should become elastic so that it springs back when poked, and also quite smooth.
- If it is still quite sticky, knead in a little bit more flour.
Let the dough rise and ferment
- Place the dough in a greased container for rising. Mark the height it will be at when doubled in volume with a piece of tape. Give the surface of the bread a light oiling so that a skin doesn’t form.
- Wrap the container and place in your proofing box or warm spot in your kitchen. Continue to monitor the temperature with your ChefAlarm, shooting for the same 85 to 105°F (29 to 41°C).
- When to dough has doubled in volume (about 1–2 hours), turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and press it gently into a rectangle shape.
- Fold the dough in on itself like a letter, into thirds.
- Place the dough back in the container, adjust the tape to reflect a new doubling, rewrap, respray, re-oil, and referment.
Form the loaf and proof it
- When the dough has once again doubled in volume (about another 45 minutes), turn it out onto a floured surface.
- Deflate it slightly by pressing on it.
- Round it into a ball that is 5–7 inches across.
- Scatter the cornmeal on a baking sheet and place the dough ball on the cornmeal.
- Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise on the counter for about an hour, until it has doubled in size.
- During the rising, preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C) with a cast-iron skillet either on the floor of the oven. If you have a baking stone, be sure to use it in this recipe.
Bake the bread
- Give the bread a few slashes in its surface with a sharp knife or a razor.
- Spritz the surface of the loaf with water, place it in the oven, and add a half cup of ice to the hot skillet under the pan.
- Close the door and bake for 15 minutes.
- Lower the oven temperature to 400°F (204°C), and insert the probe from a ChefAlarm into the bread. Set the high-temp alarm for 190°F (88°C).
- You may want to spritz the top of the bread with water again if it looks a little dark already.
- Continue to bake until the ChefAlarm sounds. With your Thermapen, verify that there is no temperature lower than 190°F (88°C). If there is, place the bread back in the oven to cook more.
- Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool completely.
Serve![gallery columns="2" link="file" size="medium" ids="25797,25798,25799,25800"]