It’s no secret that we love rye around here. In this class, you’ll learn to make the rye Zingerman’s is famous for—three different kinds of it, to be exact. You’ll make Onion Rye, Pumpernickel, and Vorterkaker, a Norwegian 100% rye. Each loaf has its own unique personality you’re sure to love. Onion rye is brimming with flavor thanks to fresh, caramelized onions and lots of poppy seeds baked inside and on top. Our old world-style Pumpernickel bread is dark, moist, and full of flavor. It’s made with the same detailed process and organic rye sour as its cousin, our famous Jewish Rye bread. And Vorterkaker? You’ve never baked a bread like this before. It’s a traditional bread baked into a flat disc and flavored with fennel and anise seeds.
No matter which loaf you like best, your sandwiches will be sending you thank you notes!
Curious about rye and can’t wait for the class?
Although it’s our sweetheart grain, it has taken second place to wheat and barley in world history. Rye was a wild weed in Mesopotamia, the original breadbasket of the world, and there’s some evidence that it was domesticated and grown intermittently before wheat and barley became the prominent grains there. The first written records of rye didn’t speak as highly of the tasty grain as we do: Around 77 C.E., the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder remarked that rye was “a very poor food and good only to avert starvation.” (Sorry, Pliny, but we disagree!)
In later history, rye became the staple grain of the poor. Most daily bread of the Jews in Eastern Europe had very little wheat in it because of the expense. The poorer the community, the darker and more rye-filled the bread. Sometimes caraway or chernushka was added to the bread, imparting some additional flavor to what is otherwise a relatively mild-tasting grain. Most Americans think that rye has a very strong flavor, but that’s really the caraway that is often added to the dough, not the rye itself.
In September 1992, we recreated rye loaves reminiscent of those made by Jewish bakers of Poland and Russia 200 years earlier. All of the rockin’ rye varieties you’ll make in class are moist and full of flavor, thanks in no small part to our organic rye sour starter. We also use what we call “old” in our recipe. It’s simply rye bread from a previous day mixed with water to make a mush. It adds to the texture of the bread and spiritually connects today to yesterday, recognizing the circularity of our lives. We use more rye flour and less yeast than other bakeries, bake our loaves on a stone hearth, and mist the crust with water right out of the oven. That quick steam makes the thin crust shiny and crispy.
Following these old traditions, we were honored by Saveur magazine, which called our efforts “America’s best rye.” Frankly, we’re still blushing about it.
Come and learn how to make this rye bread in your own home. You’ll leave BAKE! with our recipes, the knowledge to recreate them at home, four loaves of bread you made in class, rye sour to make more bread at home and great coupons.
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