Rye cakes


Swedish rye cakes in a bread basket

Rågkakor (rye cakes) have a lovely flavour and are ideal for smörgåsar (open sandwiches). In Sweden they are normally made with a hole in the middle, although the hole is something of a mystery because, unlike knäckebröd, I’ve never seen anyone hanging rågkakor up! John Duxbury


Recipe summary for rye cakes


Swedish mörk sirap (dark syrup)

• Swedes use mörk sirap (dark syrup) which can be bought in specialist shops or online. If you can’t find mörk sirap use half a tablespoon of treacle or molasses and half a tablespoon of any light syrup instead.
• Try anise seeds or caraway seeds instead of fennel seeds for a slightly different flavour.

Rye cakes make an excellent base for Swedish style open sandwiches

• I usually bake smaller 10 cm (4”) rågkakor, which I find more convenient for smörgåsar (open sandwiches). Follow the recipe below, but divide the dough into just four pieces, roll each to about 10 cm (4”) diameter and omit making a hole. One small rågkaka is sufficient for two smörgåsar.


180 g wholemeal (dark) rye flour
150 g strong white flour (bread flour)
5 g salt
5 g fennel seeds
7 g "instant" dried yeast, 1 packet
250 g* water
10 g* mörk sirap (see the tips above)
7 g butter
  milk, for brushing cakes after baking

*For bread recipes we recommend measuring all quantities in grams.


1. Add the flours, salt and seeds to the bowl of a stand-mixer and stir to mix.

2. Add the “instant” dried yeast and mix again.

3. Heat the water, mörk sirap and butter in a saucepan until the butter has just melted and the mixture is lukewarm (40ºC/104ºF). Pour over the other ingredients and stir thoroughly.

The dough for Swedish rye cakes

4. Knead on a low speed for 8 minutes (10 minutes if kneading by hand). Add more white bread flour if the dough seems too sticky and stop the machine every now and again to scrape down the sides if necessary.

5. Cover with a cloth and leave in a draught-free place for 10 minutes (there is no need for it to double in size).

6. Turn the dough onto a worksurface dusted with flour. Divide into two and shape each into a ball. Leave to rest again for 5 minutes.

Rye dough rolled into a round and flat cake shape
(The photo above shows a smaller version, about 10 cm/4" diameter.)

7. Roll the balls into flat cakes about 15 cm (6”) in diameter. Cut a hole in the middle of each cake if desired.

A rye cake ready to prove

8. Transfer to a baking sheet covered with baking parchment. Prick each cake with a fork each cake, cover with a cloth and leave to double in size.

9. Pre-heat the oven to 225ºC (425ºF, gas 7, fan 200ºC).

10. Bake in the middle of the oven for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom and the middle of the cakes reaches 96ºC (205ºF).

11. Transfer to a cooling rack, brush with milk and leave to cool completely.


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