Rye Berry Buns are savory, chewy mini versions of round Scandinavian rye loaves with a hint of anise and orange and are perfect for your favorite toppings.Jump to Recipe
I absolutely love rye breads and the heartier the better! I grew up eating sweeter light rye loaves with plenty of caraway, Swedish Limpa with orange and anise and dark round loaves with extra bran and plenty of fennel and onion. My grandmother and mother both baked these breads on a weekly basis using recipes handed down from a variety of Swedish relatives. My Rye Berry Buns are a tribute to these family loaves, just in a miniature form! They are also made with 100% rye flour rather than having a blend of wheat, so they are extra dense. I love the addition of whole cooked rye berries for the wonderful texture they add and the extra nutrition.
Fun Facts about Rye:
Rye is a staple in Scandinavian cuisine. Here are a few things you may not know about the noble Rye:
- Rye is a grass! It is related to wheat and barley, but it was once considered a weed in these crop fields.
- Rye is higher in protein, phosphorus, iron and potassium than wheat. Rye is high in lysine and soluble fiber, vitamin E, calcium and potassium. Because rye is harder to refine than wheat, it retains more of its nutrients.
- Rye is low in gluten! It is still problematic for those with Celiac Disease, but a better option than wheat for many.
- Rye is good for the environment! It has been used as a winter cover crop, especially in organic farming, for generations. Because it has deep roots, rye is able to capture nutrients, enhance soil health, prevent soil erosion, and reduce weeds without the use of herbicides.
- Rye can be used as a food and a drink! Most rye gets processed into flour for bread or fed to livestock but it is also used to make whiskey, vodka, gin and the beloved Scandinavian Aquavit!
Making the Rye Berry Buns:
First the rye berries are cooked until soft in salted water. You can use the same process for utilizing the cooked berries in salads, casseroles, soups or other dishes. They are wonderfully chewy with a slight nutty, earthy flavor.
This recipe requires a starter or “sponge” to generate a bit of sour flavor and a nice crust. Because the dough is very dense, the starter gives an extra burst of rising power.
After the starter rises for a couple of hours, the remaining ingredients are mixed in. I use olive oil but canola would be more traditional in Swedish baking. Anise seed and orange zest add just a bit of extra flavor reminiscent of Swedish Limpa bread. The dough is mixed and then kneaded until smooth.
Let the dough rise until nearly doubled and then punch down and divide into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball by using the palm of your hand to roll and stretch the surface of the dough until smooth.
Place the balls on parchment-lined baking sheets and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.
Cover the buns and allow to rise for about 30 minutes. Once slightly puffed, brush each bun with an egg white glaze. This adds a nice sheen to the baked buns.
Bake the Rye Berry Buns for 25-30 minutes until nicely browned and the bottoms sound hollow when tapped. They will not rise much in the oven so be sure they are thoroughly baked.
The insides will have a nice chewy crumb with the exterior being crisp.
These buns make perfect open-faced sandwiches, or Smørrebrød, spread with butter, cheeses, meats or smoked fish. Our family loves this imported Finnish butter below:
I also think this Kite Hill almond milk “cream cheese” is pretty fantastic!
Whether you choose butter and jam or a more savory spread, you are sure to love these hearty Rye Berry Buns! Happy baking!
Rye Berry Buns
- 6 oz. whole rye berries (about 1 cup)
- 4 cups salted water
- 10 oz. rye flour (about 2 ½ cups)
- 12 oz. warm water
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 8 oz. rye flour
- 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
- 1 tablespoon anise seed
- 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 egg white, for glazing
- Rinse the rye berries in a fine mesh colander.
- Bring the salted water to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan.
- Add the rye berries, stir and reduce heat to a gentle simmer.
- Cook for 50-60 minutes until quite tender. Drain and cool the rye berries to room temperature.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the 10 oz. rye flour, warm water, yeast and molasses.
- Mix well and cover the bowl with plastic or a damp tea towel. Let rise in a warm place for 1 ½ hours.
- Uncover the starter and add the 8 oz. rye flour, cooked and cooled wheat berries, oil, anise seed, orange zest and salt.
- Mix well with a stand mixer or by hand until the dough is smooth and a bit elastic.
- Transfer the dough to a surface dusted with rye flour and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.
- Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 1 ½ hours or until puffy and nearly doubled in bulk.
Shaping and Baking the Buns:
- Punch down the dough and divide into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball.
- Place the balls on parchment-lined baking sheets and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400°. In a small bowl whisk the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water. Uncover the buns and brush each with a thin coat of the egg white mixture.
- Bake the buns for 25-30 minutes until starting to brown and sound hollow when the bottoms are tapped. The rolls will not rise much in the oven and are quite dense, so they need to be baked thoroughly.
- Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Serve the buns sliced with butter and jam, nut butters, cream cheese, smoked fish, meats or mashed avocado. They are delightful with any number of sweet or savory toppings!