Papa D has been working to perfect a recipe for his Grandma’s German Rye Bread ever since we started cooking together back in the late Seventies. He has baked one version after another; one recipe after another, only to be disappointed in the flavor. He’s tried adding molasses, brown sugar, whole caraway seeds, ground caraway seeds and so on and so forth. Nothing measured up. Nothing ever tasted like Grandma’s. Until recently…
Recently he hit the mark. This is the perfect flavor! It has a nice texture and is relatively simple to make. What more could you ask for.
Yesterday the weather turned back to winter, from a balmy 78° the first of the week to 58° with winter storm warnings for the mountains and thunderstorms in the valley, so time in the garden was out of the question. About mid-morning I looked up from what I was doing to find D making Grandma’s German Rye Bread. It just seemed the perfect opportunity to add the recipe to my cookbook and show you how it’s done.
Grandma’s German Rye Bread
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pkg granular yeast [2 1/2 teaspoons]
Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water.
This is known as “proofing” the yeast. It is important that the water is warm, but not over 100° F
3/4 cup water
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
Mix these ingredients together in a sauce pan and heat gently, stirring continually, until the sugar is dissolved, the butter is melted and the liquid is just beginning to simmer. Cool to below 100° F before adding to the yeast mixture
The temperature is critical to the success of bread. Anything above 100° F will kill the yeast and your bread will not rise. My normal test method is running the water over the inside of my wrist to see if it’s baby-bath warm. If it’s not too warm for baby, it’s safe for yeast.
Measure and combine in a separate bowl:
2 1/2 cups un-sifted dark rye flour
2 1/2 cups all purpose white flour
Put 2 cups of the combined flour mixture in the mixer bowl and using the dough hook slowly add the combined liquids. Beat together until smooth.
Slowly work in the remaining flour mixture, incorporating thoroughly after each addition. At this point the dough will be sticky.
Now sprinkle about 1/2 cup of white flour a little at a time over the dough, working it in until the dough ball begins to clean the sides of the bowl and climb the dough hook.
Turn the bread out on a lightly floured board and knead a few times, until the ball is smooth and elastic.
Lightly oil a large, clean bowl and turn the smooth dough ball over to oil the top, cover the bowl and allow the bread to rise in a warm (not hot) place until double. We put it in the oven and turn on the oven light – it’s just warm enough.
Test dough by pressing two fingers gently into the top of the ball. It’s ready when it holds the shape of your fingers.
Turn the risen dough out on a floured board and knead a few more times. Cut the dough ball in half and form into balls or loaves.
Thoroughly butter a cookies sheet OR two medium loaf pans. Form two balls OR two loaves…the balls should be placed on the buttered cookie sheet, allowing space so they won’t touch when they rise. Allow the loaves to rise again in a cold oven until nearly tripled in size (about 2 hours). Turn the oven on to 375° and bake until the loaves are browned and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom with a wooden spoon.
Cool on a rack. The first loaf probably won’t last until it’s cold…but if you prove to have more restraint around fresh homemade bread than we have…this bread can be frozen. It keeps well for up to a month. To thaw, simply remove to the refrigerator several hours before serving time.