8-Hour Quick Sponge Deli Rye

Rye %: 40%
Stages: 2-Stage quick sponge, Final dough
Leaven: Rye sour culture, Instant yeast
Start to Finish: 7-8 hours
Hands-on Time: 30-40 minutes
Yield: Two 1½ lb/700 g loaves

Deli rye – that light, open-crumbed, caraway-fragrant New York classic – is what most Americans think of when they hear “rye bread.” Without getting into the rightness or wrongness of that fact, deli rye is without question the bread to wrap around a thick layer of pastrami, corned beef or pickled tongue – with or without Swiss cheese, cole slaw, sauerkraut, mustard and/or Russian dressing. So when my wife went shopping one morning and came back with a package of heavily peppered, deep pink pastrami, there was no question about how we were going to eat it.

Problem was, we didn’t have any deli rye on hand, and I’m enough of a rye snob so that I refuse under any circumstances to buy the plastic-wrapped stuff they sell in the supermarket. I did, however, have a stock of white rye and first clear flour, as well as a robust rye sour culture I’d fed the night before. Still, my standard deli rye, which uses a tw0-stange sponge in addition to the final dough, is normally a two-day affair and we wanted our pastrami-on-rye that evening?

The thought hit me like a flash of lighting: Berlin Quick Sponge (Berliner Kurzsauer), a process developed in Germany that compresses 12-18 hours of fermentation into 4-6 hours. Unlike my standard 100% hydration rye sponge, which uses 10% sour culture, the Berlin sponge calls for 20-40% sour culture, and it matures at at 95°F/35°C, which is the temperature at which lactic acid bacteria activity peaks. Since I also own a high-tech Bosch oven with a variable-temperature Proof setting, I was all ready to go.

The result? A fully realized, two-stage sponge deli rye, with the bright sour and tender open crumb that makes it the perfect complement to that gorgeous pastrami – and all in less than 8 hours.

Stage 1 Sponge:

Ingredient

Grams

Ounces

Baker’s
Percentage

White rye flour

64

2.00

100%

Warm (110°F/43°C) water

87

2.50

136%

Rye sour culture

26

0.50

41%

In the mixer bowl, combine the Stage 1 sponge ingredients by hand until fully blended, cover and ferment in an oven or proofing box at 95°F/35°C for 3-4 hours (the longer it ferments, the more acidic the sponge). Note: If your oven doesn’t have an adjustable proof setting, either (a) preheat the oven to 100°F/38°C and then shut it off, repeating every hour; or (b) leave the oven light on. No matter which method you use, the sponge will be very bubbly and will have doubled in volume.

Stage 2 Sponge:

Ingredient

Grams

Ounces

Baker’s
Percentage

Stage 1 sponge

177

6.20

53%

White rye flour

330

11.65

100%

Warm (110°F/43°C) water

244

8.60

74%

 

Add the white rye flour and water to the Stage 1 sponge, mix well and ferment at 95°F/35°C until the sponge more than doubles in volume, 2-2½ hours (see above for temperature management).

Final Dough:

Ingredient

Grams

Ounces

Stage 2 sponge

751

26.45

First clear flour or High-gluten flour

592

20.90

Warm (110°F/43°C) water

335

11.80

Salt

21

0.75

Instant yeast

5

0.20

Caraway seed (optional)

17

0.60

Add the final dough ingredients to the Stage 2 sponge and use the dough hook at low (KA2) speed to mix until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl and gathers around the dough hook, 8-10 minutes.

Turn the dough, which will be firm and slightly sticky, onto a well-floured work surface, divide it into two pieces, each weighing about 30 oz/850 g, and use floured hands to shape the pieces into boules or bâtards with rounded ends. Place on a cornmeal-dusted peel (if using a baking stone) or parchment-lined sheet pan. Cover and proof at room temperature (70°F/21°C) until the loaves have expanded to 1½ times their original volume and a finger pressed into the dough leaves a dent that doesn’t spring back, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 450°F/230°C with the baking surface in the middle and a steam pan on a lower shelf. Slash each loaf crosswise to a depth of at least ¼”/0.6 cm, brush with water and sprinkle with caraway seeds, if desired. Bake with steam for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375°F/190°C and bake until the loaves thump when tapped with a finger and the internal temperature is at least 198°F/92°C, about 30 minutes.

Glaze:

Ingredient

Grams

Ounces

Volume

Cornstarch or potato starch

6

0.20

2 tsp

Water

227

8.00

1 cup

While the bread is baking, dissolve the starch in 2 Tbs./1.00 oz./28 ml. of the water and bring the remaining water to a boil. Stir the starch mixture (it will settle) and pour it into the boiling water, stirring constantly until the glaze thickens to the consistency of honey, 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. When the loaves have finished baking, brush them with the glaze and return them to the oven to dry, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool thoroughly before slicing.

Baker’s Percentages:

Ingredient

g

%

TOTAL FLOUR

986

100.00%

   White rye flour

394

39.96%

   First clear flour

592

60.04%

Water

666

67.55%

Salt

21

2.13%

Instant yeast

5

0.51%

Rye sour culture

26

2.64%

Caraway seed

17

1.72%

TOTAL FORMULA

1,721

174.54%

Flour prefermented

394

39.96%

 


5 Comments

  • Władysław Łoś

    July 25, 2017

    This looks exactly like whta every Poles has first in mind when he thinks of “chleb” – the bread, like what is called in Russia “polskaya boolka” – the “Polish loaf”.

    Reply
  • Cranky Cook

    July 28, 2017

    Did the cut and paste monster strike again? “Final Dough (Day 2, Morning)” seems like an artifact from the original deli rye recipe. Fie on typos!

    Can’t wait to try this — my wife’s family is from NYC and they all say the bread and bagels just aren’t right anywhere else.

    Reply
  • Karin Anderson

    August 4, 2017

    Nice! It’s really helpful to have a repertoire of different techniques at hand.
    For me as a German such light colored rye breads are rather unusual – I would assume it’s a Feinbrot.

    Reply
    • Stanley Ginsberg

      August 4, 2017

      It’s actually a descendant of low-percentage Ukrainian/Polish ryes, ranging from 80-20%, generally white rye (R 812) flour.

      Reply

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