Munchie Monday: Brown Muffins

Even though George Macculloch’s account ledger and garden journal show that he purchased rye flour and grew rye on the family’s farm in the early 1800s, it is interesting that there are only a few recipes that list rye as an ingredient in the family’s hand-written cookbook. The Brown Muffin recipe is one the recipes that calls for rye flour. This very basic recipe, now adapted for the modern kitchen, results in a healthy, and tasty, breakfast muffin that can be enjoyed with butter and jam. The photo shows muffins made according to the original recipe, without molasses, on the right and muffins sweetened with molasses on the left.

Rye is a grain related to both wheat and barley. Rye bread comes in different forms: light rye, dark rye, marbled rye (a combination of light and dark rye), and pumpernickel made from coarsely ground whole rye grains. Baked goods made with rye flour can provide a healthier alternative to white and even whole wheat flour, since it has more nutrients making it high in fiber and B vitamins. Another health benefit to rye flour is that it may lower cholesterol. Historically, rye flour was used in combination with other flours since, on its own, the rye bread is very heavy.

There are some similarities between the Brown Muffin recipe and New England Brown Bread since it uses two types of flour: rye and whole wheat. However, the New England recipe also includes cornmeal and is sweetened with molasses and currants or raisins. The original Macculloch recipe calls for “brown flour”. Whole wheat flour was used in this modern adapted recipe, but “brown flour” could also refer to a technique where flour was heated and browned over a low flame which is included in the 1824 cookbook, “The Virginia Housewife” written by Mary Randolph. (


Brown Muffins — Original Recipe

2 cups rye flour

2 cups brown flour

4 cups milk

2 eggs


Bake in little tins.


Brown Muffins — Adapted Recipe

1 cup rye flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 ½ cups milk

1 egg

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1/3 cup molasses (recommended)

1 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix dry ingredients: rye and whole wheat flour, salt, and baking soda. Add egg and slowly add milk. Combine well. Add molasses and stir.  Grease 12-cup muffin pan. Fill each cup ¾ full. Bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on baking rack. Makes 16 muffins.

Muffin recipes from around the world that use rye flour

If you would like to try a brown bread muffin recipe that uses corn meal, try

A decorative plate holds a pile of muffins. Muffins on the left are darker brown in color than muffins on the right.

Topic: Munchie Monday
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