Old Milwaukee Rye Bread, 1965 blue-ribbon recipe

This lighter Milwaukee rye bread took the blue ribbon in 1965 at the 118th Ozaukee County, Wisconsin Fair. Ozaukee County stretches a length along Lake Michigan, from Mequon to Port Washington.  At that time it was very much rural farming area, that even boasted a few hexagon-shaped barns. Port Washington was a strong Great Lake fishing hub, and its southern reaches, towns like Mequon and Thiensville, were just transitioning into suburbs.

The rye bread recipe calls for a 2-3 day development of “the SOUR,” uses soft lard and the

dough is set to rise over steamy hot water. A nearly exact recipe is today advertised by Red Star Yeast, except the modern recipe calls for shortening in place of the lard and uses conventional rising techniques.  The link is http://redstaryeast.com/old-milwaukee-rye-bread-2/

Old Milwaukee Rye Bread
“The Sour”: Prepare “The Sour” 2 or 3 days ahead: Dissolve 1 package (2+¼ t.) RED STAR Active Dry Yeast in 1+½ c. warm water (110°-115° F.) in a large bowl to allow expansion during the ferment. Blend in 2 c. rye flour and 1 T. caraway. Cover bowl. Do not refrigerate.

1 pkg. Red Star Instant Yeast
1 c. warm water
“The Sour”
¼ c. molasses
1 tbsp. caraway seed
1 tbsp. salt
1 c. rye flour
4-5 c. white flour
3 tbsp. soft lard

     1. Add yeast to the water in a large bowl  Let stand 3 to 5 min.; stir.
     2. Blend in “The SOUR,” molasses, caraway, salt, rye flour, 2 c. white flour and lard. Beat until smooth, about 100 strokes.
      3. Add more flour, a little at a time. The dough should clean sides of bowl, but will be sticky because the rye flour. Turn onto lightly floured board. Knead until smooth.
     4. Pound up and place in greased bowl, turning to grease all sides. Cover and let rise on a rack over very hot water until doubled, 45-60 min.
     5. Punch down dough; turn over. Let rest 15 min.
     6. Divide dough into two parts. Round each into a smooth ball. Place on opposite corners of a cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet. Cover with a tent of foil.
     7. Let rise 15 min. Make 2-3 slashes, ¼-inch deep on the tops of loaves. Brush with warm water. Let rise until doubled and an indentation remains after lightly touching.
     8. Bake loaves 45-55 min. in preheated 375° F. oven. Cover with a piece of brown wrapping paper or foil after 30 min. so tops do not get too dark. Cool on rack. Brush with water for chewy crust.


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