This recipe dates back into the 40s, at least. I grew up on Grandma's rye bread and totally love it. My sister has kept the tradition going. Now I'm sharing it with you!
Start by activating the yeast. Empty the package of yeast into a bowl and sprinkle the sugar on top. Add 1/2 cup warm water and gently stir. Let it sit for about 15 minutes. It should get bubbly and foamy on the top.
Next heat the remaining 1-1/2 cup water. Add the lard or butter and heat until it's melted in the water.
Sift the two flours together to make sure there is even distribution.
Add the salt and caraway seed. Pour in the yeast mixture and the milk. Mix gently.
Pour in the lard water and mix with your hands until you have a soft dough. If it sticks to your hand, add a little more flour.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured pastry cloth or a floured board. Knead the dough until it's smooth - about 7 to 10 minutes. Kneading yeast dough is an important part of the process. It adds air to the dough, giving it a lighter but chewy texture. It also strengthens the gluten strand that makes the bread rise nicely. Without the gluten development, you'll have a flat bread. It's during this time that I go into my zen place. Or, take out your aggression.
Dough loves to be punched and slapped down onto a hard surface. Then pushed and turned with the heal of your palm, adding flour as needed.
Tuck under the ends to make a ball. Put into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and put in a warm place to rise. If you have a gas stove, the pilot light provides just enough warmth. I put mine on top of the refrigerator. Let it rise for two to three hours letting it at least double in bulk.
After the first rise, punch it down - yes - I mean punch! Roll it back onto a floured surface and let give it another good kneading! Let it rest for a couple of minutes.
While the dough is rising, sprinkle the cornmeal on the surface of a baking sheet. Gently move the dough to the sheet, cover with a damp cloth and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour - it will double in bulk again.
Preheat the oven to 350° 30 and bake for about 60 minutes. The loaf will be light brown and sound hollow when you tap on the top.
Remove from the oven and rub with butter all over the top and the sides. Wrap in a damp cloth and allow to cool - but don't forget to cut a chunk off, slather it with butter and eat it hot out of the oven before you cover. That's the payment you get for making it!