Ruth’s Ryebread (with thanks to Claudia Roden!)

Makes One loaf weighing about 700g (double the recipe if you’d like to make two).


  • 2.5 teaspoons Yeast
  • 2 teaspoons Honey
  • 60ml lukewarm water
  • 250g Rye flour
  • 250g white bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 200 ml beer
  • 1 small egg beaten for glazing (optional)


Warning: although this recipe is not difficult it is better to make it over two days, so prepare the dough the day before.

  • Dissolve the yeast and honey in the warm water
  • Leave in a warm place to activate for about 15 minutes – or once the mixture is frothy
  • Mix together all the dry ingredients
  • Add the beer into yeast mixture and pour it all into the dry ingredients. Its about 2/3 of a regular 330ml bottle of beer – I usually need to swig the remainder of the bottle while kneading to keep me going.
  • Mix in the bowl until the dough comes together.
  • Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes. Actually if you can do it for 15 minutes well done! I usually cave in at about 8 minutes. Reward yourself with beer periodically. Rye is harder to knead than other flours.
  • After this leave the dough in a bowl covered with clingfilm in a warmish place to rise overnight.
  • Next day punch down the dough and knead again for 5 minutes or so.
  • Shape the dough or place it in a tin.
  • With a sharp knife slash the top of the bread with a few diagonal cuts
  • Cover again and leave to rise for another 1.5 hours or longer if you are busy. I left mine for about 4 hours with no discernible detriment occuring.
  • Finally brush the beaten egg over the top of the loaf and sprinkle with a few extra caraway seeds if you so wish.
  • Bake the loaf for 50 -55 minutes at 190C in a pre-heated oven
  • If you place a pan of hot water at the bottom of the oven a better crust will form. I cooked mine in a cast iron pot with the lid on. The steam helps with texture apparently. (Need to do more research on this to sound authoratative). If you do this take the lid off after half an hour.
  • Turn out and cool on a rack. If done it should sound hollow when tapped.


If you are not too keen on the Rye flavour you can play around with different amounts just as long as you have a total of 500g of flour. I made one version with 200g Rye and 300g White bread flour and it was lighter and easier to knead (there is less gluten in Rye).

Still, using this 1:1 ratio is a far cry from the stolid Rye breads of old. I think it works well.


Membrillo/Quince Butter adapted slightly from Claudia Roden’s Book of Jewish Food


  • A quantity of quinces
  • A big squeeze of lemon juice
  • Sugar – half the weight of the quinces


  • Wash and quarter the quinces, leaving the cores in.
  • Cover with water, add lemon juice and boil for about an hour or so until soft.
  • Drain and reduce the cooking liquid as much as possible to produce a jelly – which can be used separately or added to the paste.
  • Remove cores, seeds and skins of fruit and puree the quince flesh.
  • Now add the sugar and the reduced jelly and cook on a low heat, stirring fairly often.
  • Cook until it has reduced by at least a third and starts sputtering – up to 2 hours.
  • To make quince butter stop here and pour into sterilized jars, adding almonds, pistachios or pine nuts if you fancy it, or can afford it.
  • If making Membrillo carry on with the ‘sputtering’ but now stir constantly until the paste starts to come away from the sides/bottom of the pan and darkens in colour. This may take up to an hour.
  • Cool the paste a little and pour into a lined tray, dish or mould and leave to cool, drying in an airy place for a day or two before storing in an airtight container.

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