Bread Baking: Light Rye Buns

Bread Baking: Light Rye Buns

[Photograph: Donna Currie]

When I was growing up, there were a couple local places that served burgers on rye buns. Not dark and hearty rye, like you'd use for a patty melt, but a light and fluffy burger bun with a subtle rye flavor. And when I say subtle, let's just say that it took me quite a while to figure out the the buns had rye in them.

OK, I was just a kid, but I knew rye bread—the serious seedy rye—and these buns weren't that serious and the rye wasn't that obvious. It was just an extra nuance that made those burgers different from all the other places.

Rye buns must not be popular, given that I've never seen them sold anywhere. But why not? Besides using them for burgers, buns are great for sandwiches of all types. And a little bit of rye makes them a lot more interesting.

This recipe uses a medium rye flour, but you can certainly use any type of rye you have available. And since I wanted these buns to be light and fluffy, I used one of my favorite secret ingredients - mashed potato flakes. If you don't have the flakes, skip them and increase the bread flour a bit to make up the difference. An extra 1/4 cup of flour should be fine, and add more if you need it during kneading.

Light Rye Buns

About the author: Donna Currie has been cooking for fun and writing for pay since the days when typewritten articles traveled by snail mail. When she combined those talents in a food column for a newspaper in her area, she realized that writing about food is almost as much fun as eating. She most recently launched the blog Cookistry and has now joined the Serious Eats team with a weekly column about baking.


  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup medium rye flour
  • 1/2 cup mashed potato flakes
  • 2 cups (9 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  1. 1.

    Mix the water, yeast, sugar, rye flour, and potato flakes in the bowl of your stand mixer. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 15 minutes.

  2. 2.

    Add the bread flour and salt to the mixture in the bowl, and knead until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl and starts becoming elastic.

  3. 3.

    Add the olive oil and continue kneading until the mixture is smooth and elastic and is no longer sticky.

  4. 4.

    Cover the bowl again with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled, about an hour.

  5. 5.

    Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F and sprinkle cornmeal on a baking sheet.

  6. 6.

    Lightly flour your work surface and knead the dough briefly. Divide the dough into 12 roughly equal pieces (you can be precise and weigh them out, but I don't mind having some buns that are slightly larger or smaller, for different appetites.)

  7. 7.

    Roll the pieces into balls, then flatten the balls. Continue flattening the dough disks, leaving the edges higher and flattening more toward the center. When the dough rises, it will want to rise more at the center, so this helps to make more even buns.

  8. 8.

    Place the dough disks on the baking sheet, leaving an even amount of space between them. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

  9. 9.

    Remove the plastic wrap and bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, until nicely browned.

  10. 10.

    Move them to a rack to cool. If you want a very soft crust, cover them with a clean kitchen towel while they cool.

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