The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Swedish Limpa Rye

hanseata's picture

Swedish Limpa Rye

One of the breads I bake regularly for sale is the Swedish Limpa Rye from Peter Reinhart's "Whole Grain Breads". The word "Limpa" sounds intriguing - but it simply means "round" in Swedish - I asked my Finnish friend Melita. Therefore, of course, my Swedish rye breads are always round.

I made some changes to the original recipe, though. I use less water for the starter - I found 142 g water results in a really wet dough: 127 g is sufficient. I also cut back on the molasses, adding only 37 g. The recipe amount with 57 g is, like many of the WGB recipes, too sweet for my taste.

As with all my breads I bulk ferment the dough overnight in the fridge - I need only 4 g instant yeast (instead of 7 g) - and bake it the next morning.

142 g rye flour
85 g whole wheat flour
4 g salt
170 g water
64 g whole wheat mother starter
191 g whole wheat flour
127 g water
all soaker and starter
57 g whole wheat flour
5 g salt
4 g instant yeast
37 g molasses
14 g canola oil
9 g anise, fennel, cardamom, cumin, (cumin less than others)
7 g orange zest ( 3/4 - 1 orange)


In the morning, prepare soaker and starter.

In the evening, prepare final dough, place in lightly oiled container, cover and refrigerate overnight.


Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hrs. before using.

Preheat oven to 425 F/220 C, including steam pan.

Shape boule and proof in floured banneton (seam side up) for 45 - 60 min., until it has grown 1 1/2 times its original size. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Score (I like a windmill pattern).

Bake 20 min. at 350 F/175 C, steaming with 1 cup boiling water, rotate 180 degrees and continue baking for another 25 min. until bread is a rich reddish brown and sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom (internal temperature at least 200 F/93 C).

The breads I sell are a little smaller (80%), to fit into the oven - and to cost a little less!

Updated 11/4/14


LindyD's picture

Pretty boules! 

Your scoring pattern reminds me of starfish.

Floydm's picture


Jaydot's picture

Not only do they look marvellous, they must smell fantastic too!

AnnaInMD's picture

wtg, Karin


hanseata's picture

They do smell good! What makes this rye bread special is the seasoning - cardamom and cumin are not commonly used bread spices, and the orange zest gives it a very interesting flavor.

When we eat oranges, I usually grate them first, and freeze the zest. When I have collected enough, I make another batch of Limpa Rye.

But, like German rye breads, Swedish Limpa Rye can be eaten with (salty) cold cuts or (sweet) jam or honey.



ananda's picture

Yes, these are great Karin

All good wishes


Mebake's picture

Has to be tasty, Karin! Wholegrain breads Rule!!

THank you for posting this.

wally's picture

and wonderful looking boules!  Thanks for sharing Karin!


hanseata's picture

And, of course, you are right, Khalid: wholegrain breads do rule!

Today I made my favorite multigrain sandwich loaf - great for toasting (a variation of the Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire from BBA).


AnnaInMD's picture

do you knead the dough after combining with soaker and starter or do you do just stretch and folds ?  



hanseata's picture

Anna, I haven't made this bread with stretch and fold, yet. But I'm sure you can do either.

Usually I knead the final dough 1 - 2 minutes on low speed, until it forms a coarse ball. Then I switch to medium-low speed, knead for 4 minutes, let the dough rest for 5 minutes, and knead for another 1 minute. That's all. I place the dough into the fridge overnight, and bake it the next morning.

Let me know how it turned out,


Cher504's picture

Hi Karin,

I'm pretty new here at TFL. I made this Limpa Rye today following Peter Reinhart's directions in "Whole Grain Breads", and also noticed that you had blogged about this recipe here. Unfortunately, your photos are not visible…maybe too old? Anyway, it sounds like you bake this bread quite often, so can i ask you a few questions?

Have you ever tried using a rye starter to make this bread? One sidebar comment in the recipe said that you could use a rye starter in place of the WW starter in the recipe. I keep my rye starter at 100% hydration, but followed his directions to make the recipe starter at 74%, and to use only WW flour in the soaker.  Everything seemed to go well until I checked the progress on the final proof after 45 minutes and it was already bordering on over-proofed!  I got it into the oven pretty quickly. It was shaped as a batard and I didn't score it. I got very little oven spring, it seemed to spread rather than rise and the loaf is quite dense. Also it cracked open a bit - I guess I should have slashed. But the flavor is wonderful!! I'd like to perfect my methods. Here's a few pictures

Limpa Rye Limpa Crumb

So my questions: Do I need to make adjustments in timing on account of rye starter?  If I retard overnight as you do, can I bake right out of the refrigerator? Would I have better loaf volume if I use the cast iron baking vessel? Or maybe a loaf pan? Do your loaves get a nice oven spring? More height or more open crumb than mine did? 

Thanks in advance for any pointers/advice!



hanseata's picture

for letting me know that, after the format of TFL changed a while ago, the links to the photos were broken. I used this opportunity to update my original post (new photos, less instant yeast in the final dough).

To your questions: I never used a rye starter for this bread, but in principle it shouldn't make too much difference if you adjust the flours accordingly, what you obviously did.

I bulk retard only the dough in the fridge overnight, not the shaped bread, and I reduce the amount of instant yeast, so that there is no danger of overproofing.

Your bread looks pretty good to me, unfortunately I never took a crumb shot, but it doesn't look too different from mine.

I bake this bread whenever I collected enough orange zest for a batch of four breads - I grate every orange before we eat them, and freeze the zest in little tin foil packages, very practical. It tastes really good and my customers like it a lot.


Cher504's picture

for the feedback - and now I see the pictures - nice slashes! Next time I'll try your procedures as my family and I love the taste of this bread.

I've visited your website by the way, and ALL your breads look awesome. Wish I known about your bäckerei when we vacationed on Mount Desert Island 2 summers ago! What a beautiful place to live, it must be especially colorful this time of year - lucky you!



Candango's picture

Karin,  I started searching for a recipe/formula for Swedish Limpa as a present for my neighbors.  They were raised in Chicago many years ago and remember the Limpa that a grandmother used to make and which they have not had since and which is probably unavailable in the Washington, DC area.  I have modified your recipe a bit ( lacking WW flour and starter, I used my rye starter at 100 %  and then BF in place of WW.  The first time out, I used cumin, as you originally suggested, but only half the amount of the other spices.  When I saw your correction to caraway, I use half caraway and a touch of cumin.  The aroma is remarkable.

It goes into the fridge at night in a plastic container, and if I cannot bake first thing in the morning, I fold it down back into the container to keep it from exploding too much.  As for steaming, I have used a small kitchen hand towel folded into an aluminum mini bread loaf pan, then filled with water and put into the oven next to my baking stone.  The wet towel acts as a wick and provides sufficient steam during the first part of the bake.

My neighbors love the bread, as it brings back many memories.  I love it too, as it is great toasted in the morning with butter or jam.  

Thanks again,


hanseata's picture

Even though the kind of flour in the starter has some influence on the taste, this doesn't affect the overall aroma of the bread too much, as long as you adjust the formula accordingly. 

I had to adjust my steaming method with every new stove I got, depending on available space. Right now I'm using a disposable aluminum pan, squeezed a bit to fit next to my baking stone, and filled with pebble stones from our garden.

Happy Baking,


AnnieF's picture

Achieved no or very minor oven rise. Small amount of dough ingredients made my kitchen aid mixer inefficient in developing gluten after 1-2 mins on low, med-low for 4 mins, rest 5 and knead 1 min more as given in another post. Baking day rainy Florida weather and maybe overproofed at 50 mins.  Two questions—how stiff is your wwheat mother starter, mine pretty loose, and is it possible to hand knead the small amount of this dough?


hanseata's picture

I'm sorry to hear that your bread didn't rise properly. (Just to make sure that there are no mistakes in the recipe amounts, I re-checked them.)

My whole wheat starter is hydrated at 75%, neither loose nor stiff. Yes, you can mix the whole dough by hand, no problem. I hope you have more success next time, the bread is really nice.


squattercity's picture

Great adaptation for a delicious bread.

I made it with a biga rather than sourdough starter. It was still great, though I got almost no oven rise in my boule. Which I guess I should have expected. Weirdly, I had to bake it for 60 minutes. Maybe my oven. Or perhaps my preheat was a little feeble. But it was worth every minute.

Thanks, also, for the suggestion about cutting Reinhart's sugar/molasses/honey recommendation. The taste was so interesting -- the rye flavor mingling with the spices to create something special. It was excellent on its own, or with butter, or with smoked fish, or with goat cheese.

And the windmill scoring is genius!


hanseata's picture

I'm glad that your bread turned out nice even though it didn't have much oven spring. Yes, it has an interesting taste with all the orange zest.

Have you measured your oven temperature? With some ovens, it can be considerably off. With every move and every new range, I had to adjust my bread baking. The Miele I have now is basically not usable for bread baking in winter - it takes forever to reach the temperature, because the old wall behind the oven is not insulated.

Thanks for sharing your experience,


squattercity's picture

Thanks, Karin. I think you’re right about my oven. It is quite ancient (late 1950s or early 60s, I suspect) and seems to be decent for breads baked hot. Lower temps, though, are suspect. Last night I baked Reinhart’s whole wheat multi grain struan & it took 65 minutes to get a reasonable thump on the bottom of the loaf. The bread was delicious (I followed your excellent suggestions from other recipes in dialing back the honey & the yeast & allowing a 12-hour rise in the fridge.) Still, it seems time for me to get an oven thermometer. —Rob

hanseata's picture

I'm glad it worked out so well for you. I bake the multigrain struan quite often, one of my favorites.