If you’re serious about your health, you may want to be eating more rye flour. Rye is in the wheat family, closely related to barley. Just like other wheats, rye has various parts to its whole grain that can be used or stripped down in the resulting flour. Studies have shown that whole rye flour is better for you in many ways than whole wheat is. Researchers in Sweden conducted a study in which mice were fed whole-grain diets based on wheat and rye, and the rye group resulted in lower total cholesterol, improved insulin sensitivity, and reduced body weight. Another study showed that rye bread leaves you satisfied much longer than wheat bread. Yet another study, this one published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that rye can actually “down-regulate” risky genes, making it less likely for a genetic disposition to, say, heart disease to manifest.
That said, adding more rye flour to your life doesn’t mean you have to be stuffy about it. Let’s have some fun with our rye by using it to make delicious desserts, breads, snacks, and breakfasts.
1. Rye Crepes With Smoked Salmon and a Baked Egg
Let’s start with breakfast on our journey through rye possibilities. Though you could easily make sweet rye crepes with fruit and yogurt and syrup or honey, these savory crepes will leave you feeling pleasantly full and satisfied for hours. Between the rye flour, the salmon, and the egg, this breakfast from 10th Kitchen is seriously protein packed. Now, to be fair, these crepes are made with beer in the batter, but that’s what makes them fun! The resulting crepe is light and lacey. Make these for brunch and you’re right on target.
- ⅓ cup dark rye flour
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, optional but excellent
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup beer, lagers and ales work best
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled, or vegetable oil
- 6 to 8 ounces smoked salmon
- 4 eggs
- Thinly sliced red onion
- Chopped fresh dill
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions: In a small bowl, whisk together the rye flour, all-purpose flour, salt, and caraway seeds. In a large bowl, whisk together the (first 4) eggs and beer, then slowly whisk in the butter or oil. Whisk the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until combined.
Chill the crepe batter in the fridge for an hour. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Preheat a large skillet over medium heat and add butter or oil to coat. Pour ⅓ cup of the crepe batter into the center and swirl to cover the bottom of the skillet. Cook until bubbles appear and the surface has become matte, then flip and cook for another 10 seconds or so. Keep crepes stacked between layers of wax paper as you work, and continue until batter is gone.
Lay out four crepes on parchment-lined baking sheets and divide salmon between them, arranging them into little egg nests.
Carefully crack an egg into each crepe, then use your fingers to spread some of the white around the edges of the crepe to act as glue. Fold edges over and press down firmly to form squares.
Bake until egg whites are nearly done but the yolks are still runny, about 10 minutes. Top with onion and dill, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.
2. Rye Bread
If there’s one blogger out there we trust for a rye bread recipe, it’s New Yorker Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen. She tweaked bread-master Rose Levy Beranbaum’s recipe to be friendly to the typical home baker who doesn’t have the time to read pages of explanation and then also bake the bread. When it comes to rye, it needs a little help with proper gluten production — this is why you don’t see many airy rye ciabatta loaves. Bread flour plays a large supporting role here, but the flavor is all rye. This recipe’s biggest ingredient, though, is time; for a really flavorful loaf of bread, you’re going to need to give the yeast plenty of time to work through the flour.
- ¾ cup bread flour
- ¾ cup rye flour
- ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- 1½ tablespoons sugar
- ½ tablespoon malt powder, barley malt syrup, or honey
- 1½ cups water, at room temperature
- 2¼ cups bread flour
- ½ plus ⅛ teaspoon instant yeast
- 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
- ½ tablespoon coarse salt
- ½ tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons cornmeal for sprinkling
Directions: Start by making the sponge. Combine the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until very smooth, intentionally incorporating air. It will be very thick. Set aside.
In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour mixture and gently scoop it over the sponge to cover it completely. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 1 to 4 hours at room temperature.
After it has rested, add the oil and mix with the dough hook on low speed for about 1 minute, until the flour is moistened enough to form a rough dough. Then raise the speed to medium and mix it for 10 minutes. The dough should be very smooth and elastic, and it should jump back when pressed with a fingertip; if it is sticky, turn it out on a counter and knead in a little extra flour.
Place the dough in a large container or bowl, lightly oiled. Oil the top of the dough as well. Allow the dough to rise until doubled, 1½ to 2 hours. Flip the bowl over and let the dough fall out onto a lightly floured counter, press it down gently, fold or form it back into a square-ish ball and allow it to rise a second time, back in the bowl covered with plastic wrap for about 45 minutes.
Shape it and wait for the final rise. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gently press it down again. Round it into a ball and set it on a cornmeal sprinkled baking sheet. Cover it with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise until almost doubled, about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. When it is gently pressed with a fingertip, the depression will very slowly fill in.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit as early as you can. On a shelf at the lowest level, place a baking sheet or bread stone. For a super crispy crust, put a sheet pan on the floor of the oven to preheat — you’ll put ice cubes in here for steam later.
With a sharp knife or singled-edged razor blade, make ¼- to ½-inch-deep slashes in the top of the dough. Mist the dough with water and quickly but gently set the baking sheet on the hot stone or hot baking sheet. Toss ½ cup of ice cubes into the pan beneath and immediately shut the door. Bake for 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and continue baking for 30 to 40 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Cool the bread on a wire rack.
3. Fudgy Hazelnut Rye Brownies
Rye flour shouldn’t be restricted to savory applications. It adds a healthy, flavorful kick to baked goods, too. These brownies from The Kitchn are decadent and fudgy while also relying on whole grain flour. If you don’t like nuts, leave them out. If you’re unsure of putting rye flour in your desserts or you’re new to rye, this fudgy brownie is a great starter recipe, as the flavor of the flour is pretty tame. They are great right away, but even better the next day.
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
- ½ pound dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup rye flour
- ¼ cup unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup natural cane sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ cup strong brewed coffee
- 1 cup toasted and skinned hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 8- to 10-inch square pan and set aside.
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan over low heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar until pale in color and thicker in texture, about 4 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract and coffee. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Then fold in the melted chocolate and hazelnuts.
Scrape the brownie batter out into the prepared baking dish. Transfer to the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the top becomes a bit cracked and slightly shiny. The center of the pan of brownies should still be a bit jiggly, and they firm up a good bit as they cool. Let cool completely before slicing.
4. Rye Pasta With Fresh Pesto and Roasted Tomatoes
Add a little extra nutrition to your pasta with rye flour. Though it is definitely easier to buy a box of pasta, making your own pasta is super easy and there’s no comparison to fresh pasta. Though this recipe from The Awesome Green is wonderful for the summer when basil and tomatoes are in season, it’s still good to make in the dead of winter. Roasting the tomatoes turns pallid winter tomatoes into decently sweet ones, and you can make a spinach, kale, or arugula pesto to replace out-of-season basil.
- 1 cup rye flour
- ½ cup plain flour
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 large organic egg
- ¼ cup filtered water
- 2 cups fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 cup pine nuts
- 5 to 6 ripe tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- ¼ cup good quality dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
Directions: To prepare the pasta, mix the flours with salt in a big bowl. Make a well in the middle, add the beaten egg and water, whisk to combine, and knead for 10 minutes to obtain an elastic dough. Set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
Put the pesto ingredients in a food processor and pulse to obtain a creamy mixture. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Cut the tomatoes into quarters. Heat the oil over medium heat in a cast-iron skillet, add the crushed garlic and fry for 30 seconds, just to flavor the oil. Add the tomatoes, wine, and freshly ground black pepper, stir to combine, cover the skillet with a lid and let simmer for 5 to 7 minutes over low heat, until the liquid starts to thicken. Remove from the heat.
Roll the pasta dough as thin as possible with a rolling pin on a well-floured surface, or use a pasta machine. Use a sharp knife to cut fettuccine strips, dusting them with rye flour so they don’t stick, and simmer in salted water for 2 to 3 minutes.
Drain water and add the pesto in the pan. Mix well to combine.
Distribute on serving plates, top with roasted tomatoes and a drizzle olive oil.
5. Salted Rye Cookies
If you like your desserts to be a salty-sweet concoction just barely on the side of savory, the Salted Rye Cookies from Whole Grains for a New Generation via Epicurious are for you. Flavorful on their own from the rye flour, balanced with sugar and salt, they can be chilled, rolled into logs and sliced or baked up as drop cookies. These cookies are awesome alongside a Kenyan black tea or a deep, barely-sweet cup of hot chocolate.
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 2½ cups whole rye flour
- 3 tablespoons coarse sparkling sugar or turbinado sugar
Directions: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and granulated sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, a pinch of salt, and the orange zest. Gradually mix in the flour. Divide the dough into two portions and place each on a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape into logs about 2 inches in diameter and wrap tightly. To shape the soft dough log into a more perfect cylinder, use a paper towel tube: Cut the tube open vertically along one side and nest the wrapped log inside, then tape or rubber-band the tube closed. Chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a sheet of waxed paper, combine 1½ teaspoons salt and the sparkling sugar. Unwrap the dough logs and roll them in the mixture to coat well. Place each log on a cutting board and cut into ⅛-inch-thick rounds, arranging the rounds 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned at the edges, about 16 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through so the cookies bake evenly. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
6. Berry Pie With a Rye Crust
Heidi of 101 Cookbooks begins this recipe by telling readers that this is the pie she bakes most often, made with the crust she loves most. With that kind of reputation, we can’t possibly not make this pie! The rye plays against the sweetness of the berries, and the thyme — yes, thyme — in the berries accentuates the finer subtleties of the rye crust. Any berries will do in this pie, but a mix of blueberries, huckleberries, and blackberries is featured in Heidi’s post. Don’t overwork the pie dough, but don’t be afraid of it, either. This pie is pretty sturdy, it can handle your pie instability. Give it a go!
- Scant ⅔ cup rye flour
- 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 1 cup salted butter
- ⅓ cup cold water or beer
- ⅔ cup natural cane or brown sugar
- ⅓ cup flour
- ¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 pounds of berries
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water, whisked
- Large grain sugar, for sprinkling
Directions: Whisk together all of the dry ingredients for the crust and then cut in the butter to rough, pea-sized pieces. Mix in cold water or beer and knead gently, quickly, and briefly into a cohesive pie dough. Chill for 15 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the bottom third. Roll out your pie crust into 11- or 12-inch circles, top and bottom, on a flour dusted counter. Work quickly and keep the dough moving. Place between unbleached parchment paper or Silpats, and refrigerate while you make the filling.
Combine the sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and thyme in large mixing bowl. Add the berries, and toss gently until well combined. Set aside.
Line a 9- or 10-inch pie plate with the bottom piece of pie dough. Guide it into place without stretching. You want about an inch of dough extending past the rim of the pie plate; trim a bit with scissors or a sharp knife if needed.
Fill the crust with the berries, drizzle with lemon juice, and dot with the butter. Brush the rim of the bottom crust with a bit of egg wash, then top with the other piece of pie crust. Trim the top crust a bit if needed, then press the top and bottom crusts together at the edges. Working around the rim, tuck the overhanging dough under itself, and crimp with a fork or flute using your fingers.
Brush the crust with more of the egg wash, sprinkle on sugar, and cut a few slits into the top. Place in the oven for about 45 minutes, until the crust is deeply golden, checking your pie regularly after 25 minutes. Let cool a bit, slice and serve.