The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Swedish Limpa

This Day's picture
This Day

Swedish Limpa

I found this recipe in one of my grandmother's cookbooks, which is at least 50 years old. The recipe states that it's "an old recipe handed down in the family" (not mine). I tried this recipe once, but found the sourdough taste more pronounced than I care for. The loaves had a lovely, even crumb.

Swedish Limpa

Cook potatoes with peelings. Peel while hot and mash or put through a ricer. To 5 cups mashed potatoes stir in as much rye flour as you can. Set this in a warm place for 2 days. Stir a few times. It will get thinner as it ferments. To this mixture add:

1 quart buttermilk
1 cup water
1 cup molasses
3/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup salt
1-1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel seed
3 yeast packages
(More rye flour and white flour, to be added during kneading)

Have all this lukewarm. Let this rise until light. Knead using about 2 cups more rye flour, rest white flour. Do not knead it too hard. Let rise and knead down again. After second rising form in eight small loaves. Let rise until about double in size. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Brush top of loaves with molasses water a couple times during baking. This bread is heavy so it will rise much slower than ordinary bread.

PaddyL's picture

I've only ever made Limpa with beer, and there's orange zest and juice in there as well.

This Day's picture
This Day

Yes, I usually add orange zest to Swedish rye bread. "Limpa" is the Swedish word for "loaf", but at least in the U. S. it seems to have become associated with Swedish rye bread with orange zest in it. Beer or ale is used in rye bread at Christmas for "dopp i grytan", or dip in the kettle. The bread is dipped into the kettle containing the broth from the Christmas ham. I grew up in a community with many Swedish immigrants; my grandmother was born in the U. S. of Swedish immigrants. She made Swedish rye bread frequently but never used orange zest. The flavors usually associated with Swedish rye bread in my hometown were molasses and anise. My grandmother frequently used potato water in her bread.

Kuret's picture

As I live in sweden this references to what is real swedish "limpa" is quite entertaining. Because as you say the word means loaf. There is a big variety of breads traditionally made in sweden wich allmost all of them consists of some rye, this is due the climate preventing succesful growing of wheat. Not saying that you cannot grow wheat here It is just that the country is so "long" that the climate differs hugely.

 Swedish breads tend to be over sweetened but there are a couple of good traditional breads.

Vort-loaf: The traditional Swedish christmas loaf with vort flavoring with or without raisins.  Tunnbrod: Flat (4mm high) barley and rye bread, soft or crispy. The standard limpa here in sweden is often flavored with anis, fenne, caraway and pomerans (the zest of a bitter small citrus fruit) but potato flavored bread is also common as is breads made with scalded flour.

Scalded flour is a good technique wich I think you should try. Simply take some of the rye intended for your recipie and pour boiling water over it and then leave it on the counter to bake bread with it in the morning. This makes for a somewhat sweeter rye without adding lots of sugars! 

This Day's picture
This Day

Thank you for your authoritative comments about Swedish breads, Kuret! I frequently scald the rye flour when making Swedish rye bread, but hadn't known that one of the reasons is to make it sweeter. When we visited relatives in Sweden several years ago we marveled at the variety of good breads on the table.

Kuret's picture

I can´t say that I "know" that scalding is for making the bread sweeter, however it does make the bread sweeter.
quoting a swedish baker : "scalded breads always taste a bit sweet. this is due to the starch beeing degraded to sugars during the night"  probably the scaldning brings the flour up to a temperature where diastetic enzymes can work on the flour? Assuming that the water is not exactly boiling when poured over the flour the mixture will probably have even lesser temperature allowing the enzymes to do their magic.. the ones suriviving the intense heat that is.

I also find scalded rye less crumbly than unscalded, do you?

butrflynet's picture

One of my mother's best friends gave this family recipe to her before she passed away.  I've since made it several times for my mother and it always brings her joyful memories of her friend.  I have also tried this recipe in a bread machine, but it has a different texture than the more desirable hand-kneaded and oven-baked loaves.

1 cup of warm water
1/2 cup orange juice concentrate (undiluted)
2 packages of active dry yeast
1/4 cup of light or medium molasses
1/4 cup of white granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of salt
Finely grated rind of 2 oranges
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
2 tablespoons soft butter
2 & 1/2 cups of rye flour, sifted
2 & 1/2 cups of all-purpose white flour, sifted

Place the warm water in a large warm mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let dissolve. Mix in the molasses, sugar, salt and orange rind.

Add the soft butter, orange juice concentrate, caraway seeds and rye flour; mix well. Stir in the all-purpose white flour.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface; knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. If the dough is too sticky, work in a little more of the all-purpose white flour (about 2 tablespoons.) The dough may optionally be kneaded with a power mixer and a dough hook.

FIRST RISING: Grease a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover it with a clean dry towel or plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until it is double in bulk, about 1 & 1/2 hours.

SECOND RISING: Punch the dough down and let it rise again until it is double in bulk, about 1 hour.

THIRD RISING: Flour your hands. Punch the dough down again. Divide the dough in half. Shape the dough into two oblong loaves. Place the two loaves on one or two greased baking sheets. Cover the loaves with a warm, damp towel. Let the dough rise again until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Uncover the two loaves. Bake them in a 375' over for 35 minutes or until the loaves are a rich brown. Remove the loaves from the oven, brush them with additional melted butter.

This recipe makes two loaves that will keep well wrapped in a refrigerator or freezer protective wrap. This bread is a lovely moist, dense, easy to slice bread, delicately flavored with orange, that makes wonderful sandwiches or toast.

Optional:  Add 1/2 cup dried cranberries or golden raisins to the dough while kneading.

Donut1213's picture

Kurt, there is a big difference between Swedish bread and Swedish American bread. You may laugh at the word limpa. But in the Scandinavian communities in the US, "limpa" refers to a certain type of bread. Let me put it into perspective for you: say one of your relatives immigrated to Sweden with a family recipe for bagels. Over time, the bread recipe gets changed and handed down. Your comment is about as ludicrous as my telling you that your bagel recipe isn't "authentic" or "right". I'd be wrong, as are you. And yes, what know what I am talking about. I am 3/4 Norwegian and 1/4 Swedish by descent, second generation in the US. And a pretty mean Scandinavian-American bread baker to boot.

This Day's picture
This Day

I will pay more attention to the crumbliness next time I scald the rye; however, I use more wheat flour than rye in my loaves, so perhaps there isn't a noticeable difference.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Thanks, never even thought of scalding rye.  ooh, yes, I see a connection, I'm on to time...gotta run...mad scientist mode....later...

buns of steel's picture
buns of steel

Hi Kuret, do you have any recipes for good Swedish breads (limpa LOL)...  I have a friend who lives here from Sweden and it would be a nice surprise to give him some bread that would be like those from his home country.  I just got some organic whole rye berries, I can grind them at home to whatever consistency is needed.



SueElin's picture

I use half anise and half fennel it is a smoother taste. To  help with the heaviness of the bread ad some Gluten. That is why recipes always have white or unbleached flour  to provide some gluten. 


The Korv is all made an all is ready for the big day. But I cannot find vort limpa so I may end up making it.  I should  probably just plan on that to begin with.

 I found a bakery in Bristol that has Vort Limpa  lots of it. I can get it at 5:00 am tomorrow.  I also wanted to make some Swedish coffee cake for Christmas morning. I guess I will be a busy girl. Dinner is at 5:00 pm.


When I make a coffee cake to be served for guests I either prepare it  by putting  the rolled cinnamon pastry on a large sheet  and cut it with kitchen shears turning the cut slice to expose the filling around the circle. The other one I use is to cut through with a knife  and put the cinnamon rolls on the side edge in a spring form pan all the way around leaving room for rising the dough and baking . It forms a ring and the rolls can be peeled off 




Sue Kelly

saltandserenity's picture

I just made the Swedish Rye bread from Peter Reinhar't Bread Baker's Apprentice book.  An interesting bread but it brought back some interesting teenage memories!

Check it out.


highmtnpam's picture

Thanks for the information. I try and bake as many Swedish breads  as I can find recipes.  My favorite memory of Sweden is breakfast and the vast variety of bread and cheese.  There may have been other foods, but I never got past the bread and cheese.  Pam