How to make Swedish Limpa bread

Since a number of our readers seem to enjoy food as much as Chris and I do, I thought I’d occasionally try to weigh in with a cooking post based on some new recipe I’m trying.  This time, it’s King Arthur Flour’s recipe (or one of them) for  Swedish Limpa bread.


I’ve been to Sweden a few times, but no one had introduced me to Limpa bread (bad Swedes).  But the recipe looked interesting, and relatively easy (bread-wise), so I gave it a go, since I’ve been on a homemade bread kick lately.

You can find the detailed recipe instructions here.  I’ll post the recipe itself, and my walk through, but you’ll want to click through to read the detailed instructions.

2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
1/2 cup King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour (a flour that’s much less “wheat” tasting than regular whole wheat, but has all the same nutrients)
1/2 cup pumpernickel (I used rye)
1/4 cup dark corn syrup (I used molasses)
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons EACH caraway, fennel, and anise seeds
1/4 teaspoon orange oil (I used 1T orange zest, about the amount you’ll get from a good-sized orange)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk (they mean use 1/4c of the powder, not the liquid – don’t reconstitute it)
1 to 1 1/4 cups water (I found the recipe to be far too wet with this much water – but it depends how you weigh the flour)
4 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil (I used olive oil).

The nice thing about this recipe is that you combine all the ingredients at once.  I started with the dry ingredients: flours, yeast, various seeds, salt, dried milk.  Then mixed them well.


Here’s the caraway seeds, had to get these at a local natural foods store.


And the fennel seeds – same natural foods store:


And powdered fennel – not called for in this recipe, but others called for it – so I added half seed and half powder:


Anise seeds.  Very nice stuff, wonderful aroma.  Got these for cheap at a Central American grocery store nearby – I’d read after I made the bread that sometimes crushing the anise seeds just a bit helps to bring out their flavor:


I’ve read other recipes where if you don’t like seeds in your bread, just pulverize all of them with a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder (though beware, because your coffee grinder could end up spicy) and mix them in the dough like that.

As for orange rind, that was fairly easy – I needed two oranges, because mine were on the small side. You just want to be careful not to include the white of the orange, you just want the orange.  And wash them well first, as God knows what pesticides are on the outside.  You’ll need a fine grater as you want the rind pulverized.

Then I started adding my liquids and mixing everything in my Bosch Compact, a wonderful European blender that can knead 100% whole wheat doughs – newer Kitchenaid blenders reportedly can’t handle 100% whole wheat dough without burning out.  The Bosch Compact (can handle about 6c flour IMHO), and its larger version, the Bosch Universal (which can handle a lot more flour), are well-loved by bread makers.  I love this thing – I haven’t hand-kneaded dough in years (I have tendonitis, so stopped trying a few years ago, then bought this baby).  And I also use it as a regular mixmaster (or I guess we say “mixer” now, since I’ m not my mom :)


After a while I realized my dough was far too wet, so I ended up adding about 4T more flour, and threw in 2T of vital wheat gluten because I wasn’t liking my results with the “window test.”  Google it if you’re not sure what I mean.  As you can see below, it finally came together as a proper dough with the additional flour.  Rye dough tends to be tackier to start with, so you have to be careful not to add too much flour.  I ended up kneading this thing a good 15 minutes or longer.


Then I put the dough in my neat little plastic thingie that I perhaps got from King Arthur or online elsewhere. It’s a wonderful tool for making bread as the marking make it easy to see when the dough has doubled in size.


View of the unrisen dough, looking down:


I forgot to grab a photo of the risen dough.  Here’s the dough after I made them into logs.  You could just as easily make it into a round ball. The bottom dough is before I rolled it up into a log. There’s a neat technique for doing this where you roll the dough out, fold the top half down. Then fold the sides in, then roll the entire thing.


After the dough had risen – I wish I’d gotten a bit of a larger rise, but the bread still turned out nicely.  I just like fluffier bread.  Which doesn’t always happen when you’er using rye or whole wheat flours.


The dough in the 350F oven, after I scored the top – which always tends to deflate my bread.  I don’t know if I’m going to score non-white-bread recipes in the future, as they don’t then get enough oven-bounce – which is when bread rises rapidly as soon as you put the dough in the oven.


The finished loaf.  I use a  thermometer – the internal temp is supposed to be 190F.  But once I got to 190F, I took the bread out, turned it upside down and thumped the back with my fingers.  If you don’t get a nice hollow thud, it means the bread isn’t done.  I ended up cooking it another 13 minutes or so, until I got a nice thud.


And voilà, my finished Swedish Limpa loaf.  I tried a slice, it’s good.  It’s supposedly better the next day. It’s a subtly sweet bread, and the spices are relatively subtle as well – tasted to me like a subtly sweet rye bread.


One of the ways they suggest eating Limpa is toasted with butter and jam. I chose apricot and raspberry, two of my favorites (Bonne Maman jam, my favorite).  It was quite good.  The bread benefits from the sharpness of the jam.  I just had it toasted with butter and no jam, and it’s good, a tinge of orange, but again I’d like more sweetness, and more orange.  I think next time I might even make the bread a bit sweeter – I’ve seen some recipes add some OJ or a few tablespoons of orange jam – I’d also consider adding a touch more molasses.  Other recipes add a bit of depth to the bread by using beer as well.

Keep in mind that sweet things tend to taste less sweet when they heat up – at least that’s my experience with drinks (coffee) and food (any kind of bread that’s sweet).  So to some degree you have to decide if you want it sweet for regular eating, or sweet for baking.

Another suggestion I read was to try Limpa with smoked salmon, and I happened to have some in the fridge:


It was quite good (I toasted the bread), but needed something sharper.  Some capers would have been nice.  Or a splash of lemon, which I didn’t think of until it was too late.  Or maybe even horseradish, which I never keep around.

So there you have it.  Swedish Limpa bread.  I think the hardest thing about making bread for beginners is getting the feel for when the dough has enough flour and/or liquid.  It’s next to impossible to get the measurements right, as they can be affected by the weather.  So you have to learn to be able to get a sense of the look and feel of a proper dough, so you know when to stop adding flour or liquid.  It’s not always easy.

But this turned out well.  When I finish these loaves I may try another Limpa recipe for fun, and maybe add some more gluten to it, as I tend to like my breads airy, even if they’re breads like this that I think are traditionally a heavier bread.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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