Chocolate rye brownies with bay & almonds

Rye flour and good chocolate are extraordinarily delicious together. I often use rye in place of a plain flour in my baking – it brings its delicate roasted, nutty notes to chocolate cakes, fondants and biscuits, and plays off the bitter qualities of dark chocolate in a new and wonderful way. These rye brownies also contain aromatic bay, which accentuates and permeates the chocolate- and-rye marriage with its distinct perfume. A crunchy, sugary almond topping finishes off the brownies with an amazing extra texture.

6 - 8

200g (7oz) good-quality dark chocolate, at least 70 per cent cocoa solids, broken into pieces

180g (61⁄4oz) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled, plus extra for greasing

2 pinches of fine sea salt

4 eggs

100g (31⁄2oz) golden caster sugar

80g (23⁄4oz) soft brown sugar

150g (51⁄2oz) light rye flour, plus extra for dusting

100g (31⁄2oz) whole, skin-on almonds

finely grated zest of 1⁄2 orange

50g (13⁄4oz) golden granulated sugar

6–8 bay leaves


Heat the oven to 160°C/315°F/gas mark 2–3.

Grease and lightly flour a medium baking tin (about 20 x 30cm/
8 x 12in). Melt the chocolate pieces and butter, with 1 pinch of the salt, in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of very gently simmering water for 6–8 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the chocolate is smooth and delicious-looking. (Don’t let the bowl touch the water.)Remove the bowl from the heat and set aside.

Separate 1 egg. Divide the white in half as best you can. In a large bowl, use an electric whisk to beat the remaining eggs, as well as the yolk and 1⁄2 egg white of the separated egg, with both the sugars until light, airy, pale and fluffy. Reserve the remaining 1⁄2 egg white.

Beat the whisked egg mixture into the melted chocolate mixture, then fold in the rye flour until the batter is fully combined. Pour the batter into the prepared tin.

To make the topping, whisk the reserved egg white in a bowl until light and airy, then fold in the almonds, orange zest, granulated sugar and remaining pinch of salt. Tumble together until the almonds are well-coated and the mixture is fully combined.

Spoon the almond topping evenly over the brownies, then dot the bay leaves over the top, pushing the base of each leaf a little way into the batter. Bake the brownies for 20–25 minutes, until they are cracked and firm on top, but gooey in the middle. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin, then cut into squares. Serve individually with cream, ice cream or thick, plain yoghurt; or as they are with a cup of tea or coffee.