When I think of rye bread, I usually picture a plump loaf, sliced thick and piled with corned beef and sauerkraut. The very name conjures images of hole-in-the-wall delis in some generic New York neighborhood that exists only in my head. Coming across this recipe in Gourmet therefore gave me pause. Rye… muffins? Muffins are fluffy, sweet things, stuck in a delicious halfway-point between cupcakes and dinner rolls. Even the name sounds adorable. Rye bread and muffins are, if not exactly worlds apart, definitely incongruous. I had to make it. Could this recipe really mix the two, and successfully produce rye muffins?
In short, not really. Yes, they are cooked in muffin tins, but they ended up more as small rye dinner rolls. Not that that’s a problem, but I was expecting fusion of a higher level, something more along the lines of a grainy brioche. So maybe I’ll tweak the recipe and get back to it later in the year, but for now, I give you a pretty good recipe for Rye Dinner Rolls. It has a lovely flavor, with light smokiness from the cumin, and a hint of anise that makes me wish I’d added a pinch of ground cloves. Don’t skip the orange zest or the salt sprinkled on top (I used plain kosher salt). Oh, and I baked these in regular-sized muffin tins before I realized that mini muffin tins were called for. So they turned out short, and had a bit too much crust-to-soft-interior ratio, but were otherwise fine.
The main thing, though, that I love about this recipe is the method of baking bread in muffin tins. I mean, I’ve seen a few (usually sweeter) breads done like this (Parker House rolls come to mind), but why not just pan all kinds of bread like this? Instant single servings! It’s perfect! And why, oh why, didn’t I think of it before? Spluh.
Scandinavian Rye Muffins
from Gourmet Magazine
makes 24 mini-muffins
1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (from a 1/4-oz package)
1 1/2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar
1 cup warm water (105-115°F), divided
2/3 cup rye flour
1 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange zest
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon anise seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus additional for greasing
2 tablespoons molasses (not blackstrap)
Vegetable oil for greasing
1 large egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt such as Maldon
2 nonstick mini-muffin pans with 12 (1 3/4-inch-wide) muffin cups
1. Stir together yeast, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup warm water in a large bowl until yeast is dissolved. Let stand until foamy, about 15 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)
2. Whisk together rye flour, 1 cup all-purpose flour, zest, salt, anise seeds, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds. Add flour mixture along with melted butter, molasses, and remaining 3/4 cup warm water to yeast mixture and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, beating until combined. Add remaining 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour and beat until incorporated. (Dough will be very sticky.) Scrape down dough from side of bowl with a rubber spatula and let rise, bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap, in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
3. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter muffin pans.
4. Stir down dough (it will be too sticky to punch down). Divide dough evenly among 24 muffin cups, about a rounded tablespoon per cup. (Grease tablespoon with oil as necessary to prevent sticking.) Let dough rest, uncovered, in a draft-free place at warm room temperature 30 minutes. Gently brush tops of muffins with some of egg wash, then sprinkle with sea salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds.
5. Bake until muffins are puffed and a wooden pick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Turn out muffins onto a rack and cool to warm or room temperature.
1. Dough can be made (but not allowed to rise) 1 day ahead and chilled in refrigerator, bowl wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. Put chilled dough in muffin pan as directed and let rise 1 hour, then proceed with recipe.
2. Muffins keep, frozen in sealed plastic bags, 2 weeks. Reheat on a baking sheet in a preheated 350°F oven until muffins are heated through, 8 to 10 minutes for frozen.