A traditional tasting rye and caraway loaf but not the traditional shape

Living in Petticoat Lane opposite the Kossoff and Grodzinski bakeries, a slice or two of rye bread and butter accompanied every meal – without butter if it was a meat meal. My grandmother, who lived with us until she died in 1937, had long since given up her pitch on the corner of Wentworth Street. She sold beigels there until my parents got married in 1918 and she moved with them to Old Kent Road.

It’s always lovely having my daughter Louise and her Basque husband Mark come to stay and one of their special treats is to buy us a couple of sliced rye loaves and some beigels from the Beigel Bake shop at the end of Brick Lane. My hip is still too sore for me to walk far and parking is difficult around Brick Lane, so we’ve given up going ourselves.

They were due to come for Easter, but who knows when air traffic will resume?

So, it’s down to making my own. The rye and caraway loaf I make in the breadmaker tastes fine and authentic, but it isn’t an oval glazed loaf like the traditional one. I haven’t made any beigels for some time – it’s a bit of a faff having to boil as well as prove the dough – but just writing about them makes me long for some. Maybe tomorrow.

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99


Woman in a White Coat


Bake 220°C 30 mins


1½ teasp yeast

380 gm strong white flour

120 gm rye flour

1 tab light brown sugar

1 teasp salt

1½ tab skimmed milk powder

1 tab lemon juice

25gm marg

300 ml warm water

2 teasp caraway seeds in dispenser



  1. Hi, i live in Australia and if asked what I miss from home I always say rye (brown) bread. They sell many sorts of rye bread here but nothing like the one you buy in London.

    Please explain what a “tab” of milk is, never heard that before



  2. Thank you for the recipe , Abby, and for celebrating the beigel shop. I walked over to Brick Lane the other morning and was thrilled to find it still open during lockdown ( only 3 customers at a time allowed). I was prepared to queue for hours for my favourite tuna beigel and for their delicious cheesecake, but in the event I only had to stand outside for 5 minutes. I walked off with my booty feeling like I had won the lottery. I hope it won’t be too long before you enjoy their beigels again.
    I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading your memoir Woman in a White Coat -I loved the story of your East End childhood and your extraordinary life thereafter.

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