Crusty Perfection

By: Karen Dybis | November 22, 2019
Rye Bread

Photo Courtesy of Zingerman's.

Dense yet fluffy and crusty – all of these adjectives describe a well-made loaf of rye, a bread that has fed generations with its satisfying flavor and texture. 

Steven Goldberg of West Bloomfield’s Stage Deli is a rye expert. Goldberg’s father Jack founded the Stage Deli in 1962, and one of its best known and most requested products is its rye bread. More specifically, the Stage Deli is recognized locally and nationally for its double-baked rye.

What is double-baked rye? It is a process of creating, baking and selling rye bread that is uniquely Detroit and a time-honored tradition. The double-baking process is so well known and respected that the Stage Deli and Jack Goldberg’s method has been lauded in publications such as The Atlantic, which wrote about Jack with such affection it may make the reader blush.

Here’s how it worked then and now, Steven Goldberg explains: European bakers who came to Detroit in the 1920s and 1930s made rye bread – crafted from rye flour only – in the same way they had in the “old country.” Jack Goldberg purchased rye from these bakers, but asked them to under cook it slightly.

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When the rye was ready to use, say at lunch time, Jack Goldberg would finish its baking on the spot. The result was a warm, crusty and fluffy loaf. He had his staff hand cut each loaf so the slices would be perfect. Putting warm bread through a slicer would have mashed it and ruined the resulting sandwich, Steven Goldberg explained. 

“Some people even eat it plain with butter right here or at home, where they might toast it,” Steven Goldberg said. “We also sell about 100 orders a week of rye bread with our Stage dipping sauce.”

Yes, 100 or more orders of just bread and sauce. It’s that good. If you want the double-baked version, you have to go to the Stage Deli – and it is worth the trip, Steven Goldberg says. They also serve great dinners and fresh fish if you’re there and hungry. 

Where else in Metro Detroit can you get a good rye? Here are some suggestions:

Zingerman’s Deli 

Rye bread is a passion for this well-known bakery and deli. You should try it in a variety of ways if you really want the full experience. Get it on a sandwich, maybe a nice Ruben. Then try it toasted. Then take a loaf home to experience it while enjoying a meal. Rye should be shared, and this is a great one to offer to family or friends. 

Avalon International Breads 

Yes, the sweets are legendary here and well worth your money and time. But the breads are heavenly. The rave reviews you’ll read online are true: Avalon knows its bread, and its rye is light, fluffy and flavorful. Check out the marbled rye as well if you want to add even more taste and sophistication to a sandwich.

On the Rise Bakery 

This Gratiot Avenue stop in Detroit is full of lots of bread varieties and plenty more baked goods for you to try. A highlight is the farmer’s rye bread, which is said to be perfect when toasted. Make sure you buy a second loaf to take home and freeze because it is easy to go through a whole loaf just with a single family breakfast. 

Mr. Corned Beef 

Delis are found all over Metro Detroit, but this one receives a lot of attention because of its huge sandwiches and great bread choices. The dark rye bread here has seeds in it, which some may enjoy for the crunch and texture. This deli also offers take-out options so you can have something to eat there and something on the way home. 

Bread by Crispelli’s 

Head to Royal Oak for this bread paradise. The freshly baked loaves will draw you in just from the smells you’ll catch on the street. Lots of bread lovers swear by this place, and it is easy to taste why. The rye gets a lot of attention for its golden crust and impressive taste.