Like many breads, marble rye bread can be made in different ways that appeal to different people. Factors such as whether a starter was used, the balance of light and dark dough and whether there are caraway seeds in the loaf can all determine what makes the best marble rye bread for a particular person. There also are some other considerations — such as where the bread was baked and the weight of the loaf — that can help one choose the best marble rye bread.
One of the first things a person should look at when choosing marble rye bread is where the loaf of bread was made. Bakeries that mix and bake the bread in the area where it is sold will tend to have a loaf that is softer and will last longer once purchased. Marbled rye bread that is made by a professional bakery and shipped to a store for sale might have a more distinctive taste, even though it might not last as long on the shelf.
An often overlooked part of the baking of marble rye bread is whether a starter is used. A starter is an aged piece of dough that is used to leaven the bread. Using a starter tends to create breads with a softer crust and chewier texture. Rye breads that use direct yeast will have a slightly harder crust and a lighter internal texture. The type of bread that is better from the starter standpoint is a matter of personal taste.
More than just a visual aspect, the balance of the marbling in the loaf also can be important. Whether there is more light rye or dark rye can affect the sweetness of the final bread and the strength of the taste. This difference can make a difference in what someone considers the best rye bread.
The end use of the marble rye bread should be included in deciding which is best. If being used for sandwiches such as corned beef or pastrami, the loaf should have a balanced amount of light and dark rye and a strong rye smell. In this case, caraway seeds could be beneficial, but they also are a matter of taste.
If the marbled rye bread is going to be used for cheeses or sweet spreads, then a seedless loaf with a light crumb might be a good accompaniment. This is still a decision that has to be made by the person purchasing the rye bread. In either case, a good loaf of marbled rye bread should feel heavy for its size and have some give in the crust when pressed down to ensure it is fresh.