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Bernard Clayton\'s Rye Bread (for Chicago)

mkcmkc Posts: 540
edited 1:12AM in EggHead Forum
Hi Chicago,

Here's the Clayton Corn Rye recipe. I've also submitted it to the cookbook.

Note there are 2 recipes, 1 for the sour (given first) and one for the bread. You need about 1/2 recipe of the sour for 1 recipe of the bread, and that gives you 2 loaves. I usually just make the 1/2 recipe of the sour and dump the whole thing in, rather than making a full 8-cup recipe and measuring out 4 cups.

Both these recipes are from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads. I take no credit except that I typed it from the book and clarified one or two short things. I do apologize if there are any typos in my transcription.


Rye Sour

The foundation of some of the great rye breads, including Seeded Rye, is an acidic "sour", or starter, in which onions havve been placed overnight. The sour may be kept alive and well in the refrigerator for several weeks (stirred and fed occasionally), but the onion chunks should be removed and discarded after the first day.

2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
4 cups rye flour, stone ground preferred
3 1/2 cups hot water (120°-130°)
4 1/2 tsp dry yeast
1 Tbs caraway seeds
a length of cheesecloth in which to tie the onion pieces

1. Tie the onion pieces into a bag made with cheesecloth. Put aside for the moment.

2. In a large bowl measure the rye flour and water. Stir to mix. Sprinkle on the yeast and work it into the rye mixture. Add the caraway seeds.

3. When the mixture is thoroughly blended, push the onions down into the center of the sour. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and put aside overnight but no more than 24 hours.

4. Lift out the onions, scrape the sour off the cloth, and discard the onions.

5. The sour can now be used as part of the sponge in all sour rye breads. It can be refrigerated for later use.

Yield: 8 cups

Heavy Sour Rye Bread (aka Corn Rye)

This loaf is known generically as "corn bread", but the only corn about it is the meal sprinkled on the baking sheet.
There is as much rye flour as bread flour in the recipe, hence it is heavier and more closely grained than other sour rye loaves. It is also left in the oven longer to bake. In commercial bakeries, the bread is sold by weight and not by the loaf.
There is no shortening or sugar in the recipe.

4 cups Rye Sour
1/2 cup water (if sour is stiff)
2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
1 Tbs salt
4 to 4 1/2 cups bread or unbleached flour, approximately
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbs water
1 Tbs caraway seeds

Prepare dough

1. Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal or cover with parchment paper.

2. The sour should be a heavy batter than can be poured. Pour into a large mixing or mixer bowl, and add the water, only if needed. Stir in the yeast and salt. Add 1 cup bread flour and stir into the sour with a wooden spoon or with the mixer flat beater. The mixture will be heavy and sticky. Be patient. It can soon be kneaded. Add more flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring it into the dough with a wooden spoon and then by hand, or with the flat beater. Pick up the dough and place it on the floured work surface. Or leave in the mixer bowl to knead with the dough hook.

3. If the dough is sticky, sprinkle it liberally with flour and knead with a strong push-turn-fold motion. Use the dough blade or the edge of a metal spatula to scrape up the film of dough that may accumulate on the work surface. Knead by hand or under the dough hook for 8 minutes. The dough will clean the sides of the mixer as the dough hook moves the dough around.

4. (Alternate method using the food processor - Fasten the short plastic dough blade.

5. Pour the sour, water (if needed), yeast, and salt into the work bowl. Pulse to mix. With the machine running, add the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until it becomes a ball of dough that is thrust around the bowl by the blade.

6. Keep the machine running and knead for 45 seconds.)

First Rise

1. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and put aside to rise for 30 minutes.

2. Fold the plastic back and push the dough down with the fingers. Replace the cover and let the dough rise for a second time.

3. Turn the dough onto the floured work surface and divide it into two loaves. Shape into round balls or oblongs and flatten the tops slightly.

Second Rise

1. Cover the loaves with wax paper or a lightly oiled sheet of plastic wrap and leave to rise until three-quarters proofed, about 30 minutes. Don't let them rise to full double volume as with many other breads.


1. Preheat the oven to 425°F about 20 minutes before baking.

2. With a razor blade or sharp knife, cut a design in the top of the loves. Beat the egg and water for the glaze and brush loaves with the glaze. Sprinkle liberally with caraway seeds.

3. Three minutes before baking pour hot water in a pan and place on the bottom shelf of the oven to create steam. Place the sheet with the loaves on the middle shelf and bake until the loaves test done, about 40 minutes. Turn one loaf over, tap the bottom crust with a forefinger, and if the sound is hard and hollow, the bread is done. The loaves will be a light brown.

4. (If using a convection oven, you may need to reduce the oven temperature 25° to 50°.)

5. Place the loaves on a metal rack to cool before serving.

6. This bread freezes for up to 6 months at 0°. If a softer crust is desired, place the loaves in plastic bags.

Yield: 2 medium loaves
Egging in Denton, Texas


  • This is a great recipe!  I've used it several times, getting ready to do it again.
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