What makes a great sandwich? Great pastrami? The perfect mustard? I think it all starts at the bread. Of all the breads out there, little is better than a perfectly dense, yet wonderfully moist rye bread. How can we get that perfect bread, though? Make it ourselves, of course!
To get the perfect rye bread, we had two goals in mind: Getting the flavor perfect, but at the same time keeping the recipe simple. We didn’t want a recipe that required a stand mixer because they tend to be expensive and aren’t in most homes. Instead, this recipe just requires some good old fashioned elbow grease. To really get the most out of this bread, you’ll need to let it rise a few times so make sure to reserve a few hours (about 8 or so) to make this. Keep reading below for our favorite rye bread recipe…
Sandwich Rye Bread
(makes one 3/4 pound loaf)
- 1 cup bread flour
- 1 cup rye flour
- 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 3/4 cups water at room temperature
- 2 1/4 cups bread flour
- 1/2 plus 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
- 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
- 1/8 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
BAKING AND GLAZE
- 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal for sprinkling
- Combine the sponge ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until very smooth, intentionally incorporating air. You should end up with a thick batter. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour mixture and gently scoop it over the sponge to completely cover it. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let ferment for 1 to 4 hours at room temperature.
- Add the vegetable oil, and with a wooden spoon or by hand, stir the mixture until the flour is moistened. Knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together, then scrape it onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough for 5 minutes (it may be a little sticky, but that’s okay for now). Invert the bowl it was resting in over the dough, and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
- Knead the dough for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Oil the top of the dough, and allow the dough to rise again until doubled (about 1 1/2 to 2 hours).
- Flip the bowl and let the dough fall out onto a lightly floured work surface and press it down gently, forming it into sort of square ball. Place the dough back into the re-oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap to allow for a second rise (about 45 minutes this time).
- Turn the dough back out onto the floured work space and shape it into about a 9″x12″ rectangle. Roll the dough along its long edge, forming a 12″ log. With the seam of the dough facing up, pinch the seam together between your fingertips, then rotate the dough seam-side down. Seal the ends by poking in with your finger to tuck the dough into the loaf. Transfer the loaf to a cornmeal sprinkled baking sheet and cover loosely with greased plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes.
- While the dough is rising on the baking sheet, preheat the oven to 450F and make sure the shelf is on the lowest level. Once the bread is done proofing, whisk together the egg white and milk, and brush over the sides and top of the loaf. Using a serrated knife, make 6 or 7 slashes, 1/2″ deep, into the top of the dough.
- Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 400F and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes (or until the bread is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let bread cool on a wire rack.
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen