Old-fashioned Rye Gems (Rye Muffins)

Rye Gems (Muffins) on Plate

Some ingredients languish in my pantry during the summer months, and then, as the weather cools, I again begin to regularly use them. Rye flour and molasses are two such ingredients. I hadn’t used either in months, but when I came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Rye Gems (Muffins) that called for both ingredients, I just had to try it.

The rustic sweetness of the molasses merges beautifully to create a hearty muffin. The Rye Gems make a nice dinner muffin. I served them with butter. They nicely complemented the roast beef and baked winter squash that I served with them.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Rye Gems (Muffins)
Source: The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1921 Edition)

Gem pans traditionally were made of cast iron, but I just used my usual muffin pans and it worked fine.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Rye Gems (Rye Muffins)

  • Servings: approximately 24 muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 2/3 cups rye flour

1 1/3 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup molasses

1 1/4 cup milk

2 eggs

3 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 400° F. Sift together rye flour, flour, baking powder and salt. Add molasses, milk, eggs, and melted butter; stir to combine. Grease gem pans (muffin pans), and then fill each gem 3/4th full with batter. Bake for approximately 20 – 25 minutes or until an inserted wood pick comes out clean.


17 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Rye Gems (Rye Muffins)

    1. I think that rye flour may have been a little more popular a hundred years ago than it is now. It was particularly popular (or at least widely used) during the later part of World War I (1917 -18) when there were food shortage and much of the wheat flour was being sent to Europe to feed the troops. Magazines during that era often had bread and dessert recipes that called for little or no wheat flour.

    1. Molasses has grown on me over the years that I’ve been doing this blog. I used to think that I didn’t particularly care for molasses – but I now realize that it adds rich, nuanced flavors to foods and really enjoy it.

  1. That’s so interesting. So you eat them alongside a cooked meal, rather than as a little treat with a cup of tea or coffee? Is that the traditional thing to do?

    1. hmm. . . Your question makes me realize that I’m not sure when these are supposed to be eaten. The cookbook gave no clues about when these should be served. The Rye Gems aren’t nearly as sweet as many muffins that I’d typically eat with tea or coffee – so I served them as a bread with a meal. That said, maybe they are supposed to be served with tea or coffee.

      1. Well, maybe someone will chip in with a definitive answer! Meanwhile, eat them exactly when you want to. I’ll try them next time I buy rye flour, which I find a tricky ingredient.

  2. I bet your kitchen had a wonderful aroma of autumn days and then you got the bonus of enjoying the autumn taste of these yummy muffins. 🙂

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