Know our rye dough Winnipeg’s Jewish-style bread a unique loaf: bakers

Winnipeggers aren’t the only folks celebrating the fact that local entrepreneurs Chip and Pepper Foster have brought the beloved KUB bakery back to life.

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Winnipeggers aren’t the only folks celebrating the fact that local entrepreneurs Chip and Pepper Foster have brought the beloved KUB bakery back to life.

The editor of The Tablet, an online magazine based in New York City that serves the U.S. Jewish community, says a staff member told them: “Winnipeg has the best and most authentic Jewish rye bread in the world.”

So what is it about the city’s Jewish-inspired rye bread that makes it so special?

Those in the know say that, unlike rye breads in eastern Canada and the U.S., Winnipeg-style rye doesn’t contain much, if any, rye flour. Instead, it is made from cracked rye or coarse rye meal.

It is also made differently from eastern rye bread, says Fivie Gunn, the former owner of Gunn’s Bakery in Winnipeg.

“It uses chopped or flaked rye, making it sort of speckled,” he said, adding it is lighter and has a milder flavour, “not a sour taste like out east.”

It’s also made mostly with white flour and with no caraway seeds, he said, making it smoother and softer.

“It’s quite tasty and unique,” Gunn said.

Gunn thinks Winnipeg’s rye bread originated with immigrants who came to the city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries from Ukraine.

“It uses chopped or flaked rye, making it sort of speckled. Not a sour taste like out east.”–Fivie Gunn

“They brought their kind of bread with them,” he said, noting that as you head further west into Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, the style of rye bread changes again.

“It’s heavier,” he said. “Winnipeg rye bread is unique.”

Ross Einfeld was owner and production manager at KUB until it closed last year. He also traced Winnipeg’s unique rye bread to immigrants from Ukraine more than 100 years ago.

“Our bread is based on their recipe,” he said, adding that for him City, Gunn’s and KUB make the best rye bread in Winnipeg because they bake it on a paddle in a hearth with steam to give it a chewy coating.

“It’s crusty all the way around, not like bread made in a pan,” he said. “It’s chewy outside and moist inside.”

When it comes to personal preferences, members of the Winnipeg Jewish community have their own favourite bakeries.

Belle Jarniewski, executive director of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada, prefers the version made by City Bread.

“I remember going to the old City Bread location with my mom and dad every other week to stock up. My mom would come out with a shopping bag filled with fresh rye bread and she would freeze whatever we couldn’t eat right away.”

Elaine Goldstine, CEO of the Winnipeg Jewish Federation, also picks City Bakery.

“I know that rye bread at Gunn’s and City bread are different,” she said, indicating her preference is for City Bread rye bread.

As for the city’s reputation for rye bread, “I guess it is famous like Winnipeg goldeye is famous,” she says, referring to the Manitoba fish that is well-known outside the province.

Bernie Bellan is editor of Winnipeg’s Jewish Post and News. “To my mind, City Bread is by far the best, with Gunn’s second,” he said. “It’s really a question of acquired taste, I would say.”

Alan Green, former rabbi at Winnipeg’s Shaarey Zedek synagogue, was more a Gunn’s Bakery fan when he lived in the city. Now that he lives in Fairfield, Iowa, he has fond memories of Winnipeg’s rye bread.

“I certainly understand how a good bakery — particularly a bread bakery — can make one feel at home and rooted in a city or community,” he says.

“I guess it is famous like Winnipeg goldeye is famous.”–Elaine Goldstine

Becky Kaufmann recently moved to Toronto from Winnipeg. She, too, has good memories of the city’s rye bread.

For Kaufmann, the best is City Bread, followed by Gunn’s; she’s heard of ex-Winnipeggers ordering bread from local bakeries and having it shipped to them.

“Jews are very particular about their likes,” she says. “We’re loyal!”

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John Longhurst

John Longhurst
Faith reporter

John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.


Updated on Thursday, January 5, 2023 10:07 PM CST: Corrects spelling of Goldstine in pullquote

Updated on Monday, January 9, 2023 2:29 PM CST: Corrects spelling of Bernie Bellan

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