3rd Prize, Indiana State Fair, 2014


Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance


Picnics and Family Reunions

Indiana State Fair

August 7, 2014


babu polish rye bread indiana state fair greater midwest foodways alliance

(Image by Peter Engler)


Third Prize:

Babu’s Polish rye bread

Christine Rienecker, Indianapolis, Indiana


Roll dough and cut into slim slices. Lift slices with hands allowing it to unrolls Spread noodles out to dry. Turn them occasionally. I let my noodles dry for about 3 hours.


My Babucia (bah-boo-sha) and Dziadziu (jah-ju), my Polish grandparents, had 10 children, chickens, a rooster, a few cats and a dog. Theresa and Stanley Labuz emigrated from Krakow, Poland in the early 20th century in hopes of making a brighter future. They came to Ellis Island and migrated to the small town of New York Mills, New York. They both worked for Utica Cutlery and had a big, 3-story house replete with a chicken coop, 2 kitchens, and a huge vegetable and herb garden along with many varieties of flowers.


My Babu (bah-boo) loved to cook and bake. She would arise in the middle of the night to start her breads and desserts. She had to feed her large family and welcomed any stranger who came to the door to join the family meal.


No meal was complete without Babu’s bread. It was delicious with butter, and dipped in one of her hearty stews, or used for a kielbasa (sausage) sandwich. The wonderful aroma of her bread baking in the oven wafted even up to the third floor of the house.


Her Polish rye bread was a mixture of rye and white flour. She used the mashed potatoes to make the bread light and to help it rise. She “knew” that yeast loved potatoes. As a Pole, she knew the value of using butter and honey to make a delicious loaf.


I miss my grandparents and the joy of big family meals so much. When I bake a loaf of Babu’s bread, I am transported back to the huge table in her dining room where my sister, my cousins and I enjoyed her warm, delectable bread.


Recipe is over 60 years old.



Third Prize:

Babu’s (bah-boo’s) Polish rye bread

Christine Rienecker, Indianapolis, Indiana



1 cup lukewarm milk

2 tablespoons honey

1 package yeast

1 1/4 cups stirred rye flour

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

8 tablespoons soft butter – divided

1/3 cup plain mashed potatoes

3 teaspoons caraway seeds


Warm the milk to lukewarm, add the honey and yeast, stir to mix. Let proof.

In a large bowl, combine flours, salt, 5 tablespoons butter and mashed potatoes. Mix well. Add milk mixture and mix well. Turn out dough onto floured surface and knead dough 10 minutes. Add caraway seeds and knead until well-mixed. Using 1 tablespoon butter, butter a large bowl. Add dough, turn once to coat surface. Cover bowl and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk. Grease a 14 x 16-1/2 inch cookie sheet. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Knead air bubbles out of dough. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 17-inch long rope. Braid bread. Place on cookie sheet. Brush surface with 1 tablespoon butter. Let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk. Bake for 27 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Brush surface with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Cool.


Yield: 1 loaf – see serving suggestion below:

You can serve the bread with kielbasa (Polish sausage) and spicy mustard (or Dijon)

I used 1 pound (3 links) of kielbasa = 6 servings


How to cook kielbasa:

Put kielbasa in a 9-inch-square or 9×13-inch rectangular pan (depending on how many links you have of kielbasa). Pour 1/2 inch of water into the pan. Place kielbasa in pan. Bake in a preheated 3750 oven, turning the sausage over once so that all sides are browned. Bake for 40 to 55 minutes or until sausage is browned and water is evaporated.