Swedish Limpa Bread
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Limpa, a flavorful Swedish bread, is wonderful for open-face sandwiches or morning toast. Aromatic seeds, rye flour, and orange juice give it a distinctive flavor.
The longstanding joke in my family is that my grandfather was always two. As kids we could never get a straight answer out of him regarding his age, and that tradition continued when his great-grandkids were born.
Limpa is another tradition he kept up, baking it into small loaves that sliced into perfect snack-size bites.
Flavored with fennel, caraway, molasses, and orange, it’s a step above your regular white bread.
He never shared with me his personal recipe, but I always feel like I am channeling him when I make this limpa bread.
If you’ve tried my honey oatmeal bread or French bread and are looking for a great sandwich bread that is full of flavor, add this limpa to your to-do list!
Ingredients for limpa bread
To give the bread its unique flavor, you’ll need a few special ingredients in addition to the bread basics.
Rye flour – Rye flour is made from rye kernels (berries) instead of wheat. It has a nutty flavor and is perfect for when you want to add more dimension to baked goods.
There are four main kinds of rye flour: white, medium, dark, and pumpernickel.
For this recipe, I use Bob’s Red Mill Dark Rye Flour. Medium rye also works well.
All-purpose flour – To prevent the loaves from being too dense and heavy, I use all-purpose flour as well, in approximately equal proportion to the rye.
Yeast – I use instant yeast in this recipe.
If you use active dry yeast, you will want to let it rest with the warmed ingredients to activate before mixing in any flour. Make sure the liquid is not too hot or it will over-activate the yeast.
Orange juice – Instead of water, this uses orange juice as the liquid to give the bread a lovely citrus flavor. I recommend a no-pulp version here.
Molasses and brown sugar – I use two kinds of sweetener for a deeper flavor. The molasses also gives it a nice color and works well with the orange juice and seeds.
Butter – Added fat helps create a soft and tender texture inside with a crisp crust. Salt is also added to the bread, so use unsalted butter.
Fennel and caraway seeds – Anise and similar flavors are very popular in Swedish baking. Fennel and caraway are both similar to anise, but impart slightly different flavors.
If you only have one or the other, you can simply 2 teaspoons instead of 1.
However, if you only have aniseed, reduce the total seed amount to 1 teaspoon, as the flavor is stronger.
How to make Swedish rye bread
In a small saucepan, combine the orange juice, butter, molasses, brown sugar, fennel seeds, and caraway seeds.
Set over medium-low heat and warm gently, just until the butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.
Do not let the liquid get too hot, or it will kill off the yeast. If needed, let it cool before adding the yeast until it feels about the same temperature as your inner wrist, approximately 100°F.
Pour the liquid mixture into a large mixing bowl and whisk in yeast and salt.
Stir in all of the rye flour with a wooden spoon or dough whisk. You can also mix the dough in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook if you prefer.
Add 1 cup of all-purpose flour, mixing in fully before adding more. You only want to add enough flour to make the dough come together, but still be a little sticky.
Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
Dust a work surface with flour and turn out dough from the bowl. Dust your hands and the top of the bread with more flour and knead gently for about 5 minutes.
Add flour as you knead to prevent sticking. The dough should feel soft and stretchy. Shape into a smooth ball.
Keep in mind that bread is dependent on your environment and ingredients, so you may need more or less flour to achieve the desired texture.
Lightly coat a large bowl with nonstick spray or oil. Place the bread in the bowl and cover with a kitchen towel, plastic wrap, or thin plastic shower cap.
Set in a warm place and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
In the winter I like to put mine into the microwave, or you can use an oven that has been warmed and turned off.
Once risen, deflate dough. Divide into 2 pieces and either shape into freeform loaves and place onto a rimmed baking sheet, or place into greased loaf pans.
Cover and let rise again for 1 hour.
While the bread is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.
Once the bread has risen, use a serrated knife to slash the tops (or leave smooth).
Place the bread in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the loaves are dark and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the bread center registers between 190°F and 210°F.
Let cool on a wire rack before slicing.
Honestly, I like to eat this simply toasted with salted butter on top, but you can enjoy it in lots of other ways!
Serve with gravlax (cured salmon) and dill on top for an open-face sandwich.
Shape into four smaller loaves and cut thinly for crostini to serve with egg salad or your favorite dips like beer cheese dip.
Serve alongside a dinner of Swedish meatballs and dill potatoes.
Use for a Reuben sandwich or an amazing grilled cheese.
This flavorful limpa bread is such a treat. Give it a try!
- 1 3/4 cups orange juice
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
- 2 1/2 cups rye flour
- 2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
- In a small saucepan, combine orange juice, butter, molasses, brown sugar, fennel seeds, and caraway seeds. Heat just until butter is melted, sugar is dissolved, and liquid feels about the same temperature as your inner wrist. If needed, let cool to reduce temperature.
- Pour into a large mixing bowl and whisk in yeast and salt. Stir in rye flour, then add all-purpose flour gradually until dough is soft and pliable. It should still be somewhat sticky. Let rest for 20 minutes.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently for approximately 5 minutes, adding more flour to prevent sticking as needed. Shape into a smooth ball. Set in a large greased bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, approximately 1 hour.
- Deflate dough dough, divide in half, and shape into loaves. Place loaves on lightly floured baking pan or in greased bread pans. Cover and let rise 1 hour.
- While dough is rising, preheat oven to 375°F. Once ready to bake, slash tops with a floured serrated knife and place bread in oven.
- Bake for 40 minutes, or until loaves are dark and crusty. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a loaf should read between 190°F and 210°F.
- Makes 2 loaves.
- If using bread pans, adjust baking time as needed to fully bake.
- You can shape into 4 smaller loaves or even individual rolls. Reduce baking time as needed; rolls should take about 25 minutes.
That looks GREAT!
I have the exact same cannister for my flour, labeled EXACTLY the same way (same label font, label tape, etc.)
Is yours also getting a little too small? I swear I have to fill that thing every week!
@Dorothy at Shockinglydelicious, I P-Touch label my stuff too! I love my label maker!
I just read a quote that said something like every great dish is formed in memory first. That’s where this post is from. Wonderful memories of times spent with a loved grandfather.
Now I have to go find some Sprat. It looks and sounds delicious. And the bread? I love the color of the sliced loaf. I can see me just piling the Janssons Temptation on the bread and eating it open faced. Mmm.
Thanks Robyn! I’m really grateful for your help in figuring out my bread problem. It really is the most beautiful bread I’ve ever made!
You sure did your grandfather proud Megan. This is so well written adn evocative, and the dishes so intriguing. Well done. You certainly hit this one out of the park. Good luck although I am sure we will see you in Round 3!
Thanks a ton Mardi 🙂
I really want to make Limpa! It looks super easy to make. COngrats on such a great post. Good luck onto next round!
@Noelle, I did have trouble with it but thankfully I had time to make it a second time. It was worth it! Thanks much!
What a cute story about your grandfather! I’m sure he’d be proud that you soldiered on through the sprat (I would have freaked too), and that you baked a lovely loaf of bread.
Seriously… tiny whole fish freak me out. Thank goodness they didn’t have heads!
I love swedish food actually, it is the polar opposite of indian food and I relish it for that. one of my very best friends growing up was swedish (her mom immigrated), and there were midsommers with the pole, cardamom infused pastries, st lucia and lots of fish. this looks delicious and I think you did a wonderful job.
Thanks! I thought of making St Lucia buns but it’s not the right time for it. So wonderful that you have so many memories of Swedish food!
Lovely story and recipes, as well. What a breath of fresh air to see something so different as Swedish food- great job with this challenge!
I absolutely love the story behind this post and I feel like I actually learned something new from your post. Thank you for teaching me about Swedish food!!!
@Carol, Thank you so much! I had a great time writing the post.
simply fantastic. thanks for letting us learn about Swedish dishes. nice choice for challenge 2 🙂 hope we all make it to the third. good luck!
lovely story about your grandfather and a wonderful homage to your heritage. thank you for a great post!
I absolutely love both Jansson’s frestelse and limpa! Good luck with the competition!
I loved this, truly. The bit about your grandfather, the recipes. Really wonderful good luck!
Fantastic!! I would have freaked out opening that can LOL. I went with Jewish bagels for my challenge! It was so much fun!
@Steph – Thanks! I don’t know why little fish freak me out, but they do!
So it’s like a potato gratin with smoked fish inside? That sounds really good. I’m going to the 99 Cents Only store right away to look for some exotic sort of tinned smoked fish (they must have it, right?).
@Erika – Ha! I didn’t think to look at the 99 cent store but it seems like a perfect place to find it! Yep, it’s a gratin but without cheese. I thought I would miss the cheese but it’s good without!
Hi – I am born and raised in Sweden. Nice work on your Jansons frästelse and swedish sweet bread. You have my vote. Vote for me here: http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/2/view/974
Beautiful bread! You get my vote!
Nice entry. Good luck!
I did Swedish cuisine too! Potato dumplings and a princess cake. I really want to try Janssons Frestele! Excellent post. I might give it a try!
I love this! I made the same decision to try a classic dish from my own heritage and I’m glad others had the same idea. Exploring your own culture is so rewarding. Good luck and I voted for you! 🙂
Good for you for taking inspiration from your heritage! That bread looks delicious and together the lunch looks like something I could eat right this second. You gladly have my vote 🙂
it looks really good. and the bread looks amazing
sending a vote your way
I have to say that Jansson’s Temptation has always given me pause, despite my well-documented love of anchovies, but you actually managed to make it look appealing. The bread looks amazing, too.
I love anything with potatoes and smoked fish (yes, I even eat the bones) but it’s that bread that’s calling my name! I am intrigued by the mix of juice, molasses, rye flour and flavouring in it! Voted 🙂
Well, I did the meatball thing but this is truly outstanding! The bread is making my jowls water and the simple sprat dish is a perfect pairing. Your Grandfather would most definitely be proud. You got my vote!
The finished meal looked so good! That bread was gorgeous and I loved your story. Happy to find your blog through the contest. You got my vote….great job & good luck!
I really enjoyed your post. I traveled to Sweden last year and I LOVED the food, every bit of it. I had something similar to this in a small cafe, and I miss it so.
I so voted for you 🙂
You can see my entry at http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/2/view/973
Hope you vote for me!
Your childhood story and the stories behind Swedish dishes are priceless. You can always learn something new when it comes to food. But the bread, so beautiful, got my vote! Thank you~!!!
Lick My Spoon
I love your story about your grandfather and how you decided to choose Swedish food for this challenge. That limpa looks awesome! I can almost hear the crust crackling. Another vote heading your way!
Despite having been to Sweden a number of times, I have to admit that I remember little about the food, apart from the concept of smorgasbord and the regional affinity for rye breads. Having said that, I did go and make lefse for my PFB challenge, so between that experience and this post, I’ve just learned a lot more about Scandanavian food!
I loved reading the story about you and your grandfather. It was really nice to also learn about Swedish food from you! Everything you made looks wonderful, especially the bread. YUM!!! Great job with the 2nd challenge, I’m definitely voting for you!
Amazing post! That bread looks incredible, so tasty. I love how you showed everything.. every step of the way. I must say.. I am scared of the sprat, but the finished plate looks amazing!
I love that you chose to make Swedish food! I’ve got a little bit of Swedish heritage myself, and I’ve always been curious about the cuisine. From what I’ve seen here, there is lots of yummyness to be found! 😀
Very nice post. Good luck in PFB. You have my vote!
Great post! That loaf of bread is so perfect. I voted for you!
Good luck! =)
You can check out my PFB post at :http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/2/view/864
this looks delicious 🙂 Good luck with project food and you got my vote for this one! Feel free to drop by 🙂 Good luck and best wishes for making to the top !! WOOHOO
jen @ http://www.passion4food.ca
Sprat is a fun word to say anyways. 🙂 Can you buy them fresh like sardines? Maybe hat’s a silly question though…That bread is perfect! Just the thing to snack on all day.
Canned fish is pretty far out of my comfort zone, so I’m impressed. And the bread looks beautiful! You’ve got my vote 🙂
Oh, your bread looks so beautiful!
The only time I eat Swedish is when I am at Ikea, but I do love that lingonberry sauce. I am slightly obsessed with all things Swedish. You have an enthusiastic heart from me! Best of luck in round 2!!
Gorgeous photos and I love your writing! Thought definitely something I’d never tackle… Just voted for you. 🙂
You get huge points for writing the best first line ever: My grandfather has always been two. Love, love, love your post! Best of luck in moving to Round 3; you certainly have one of my votes!
this is fantastic and original. great post. i love the bread… chomp!
you’ve got my vote 🙂
What a beautiful way to tackle this challenge! I love that you explored your roots. I think that our own personal heritage is so important to who we are, and that includes our food heritage!
Thanks for stopping by my blog to check out my tamales! 🙂
I love your personal story w/ these dishes! I voted! Good luck 🙂
Great choice and the bread is beautiful! I did the untouchable, nostril offending lutefisk!
Your bread was just too gorgeous… I clicked the heart button before I even read the post – well done- Megan
What a great post! You’ve got my vote 🙂 I think your grandpa would be more than proud. He’d still be two, with a happy tear in his eyes.
XOXO best of luck!
p.s. I love your userpicture–it reminds me of my favorite movie of all time: Amelie.
simplicity is the hardest thing to accomplish!
I voted you. (You can see my post here: http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/2/view/869)
I really enjoyed reading this – the combination of your words and the lovely photos meant I could practically smell and taste these recipes. The Jansson’s Temptation really caught my eye. I have a Swedish friend here in Shanghai, so I’ll ask her if you can get tinned sprat anywhere.
Sent you a vote!
To me, both dishes look wonderful but I’m so impressed by your limpa. It’s beautiful. I tackled bread making for the challenge but mine didn’t come out like yours. I just voted for you.
Your grandpa sounds like he was a wonderful man and you did him proud with this lovely post. I surely would love to be served this plate! Voting now, and Here’s to both of us hopefully advancing to the next round.
I voted, beautiful bread!
Truly lovely post that garners a vote from me! I love IKEA, but I love your exploration into Swedish food even more 🙂
My own entry, Indian dessert Gulab Jamun, is soaked in rosewater, cardamom, and saffron syrup as well as lots of sweet memories.
Beautiful post and omg the bread looks divine. You have one of my votes. Best of luck to you!
I enjoyed reading your post and admiring your photos. A very nice answer to the challenge. I voted for you.
A terrific meal.
If you wanted to substitute something for sprats due to availability, would you recommend anchovies, herring, sardines, or something else? What do the sprats taste like right out of the can?
looks great I bet your grandfather would be proud if he saw it…looks authentic to me and im a native Swede. You got the bread nice and rustic…perfect meal for the winter season that is around the corner….most swedes actually only eats Janzons temptation around x-mas but some use it as comfort food…
If you ask me simple things are by far the best…
If you’re ever in Chicago in the winter, you need to head to Tre Kronor restaurant for some of the best Swedish food in the U.S. It’s on the north side of the city (across the street from North Park University, founded by Swedes in 1892). They have amazing Swedish food year ’round, but in December they host a julbord, complete with gravlax, lutefisk, numerous kinds of herring, potatiskorv, Janssons frestelse, limpa, hardtack, and so much more. It’s $50/person, but you can stay for two or three hours and go back as many times as your stomach will let you! This regular customer — of 100% Swedish heritage herself — promises you will not be disappointed.
Your bread is beautiful! I love rye bread but have never made or tasted limpa. I’m really intrigued by the addition of orange juice. It certainly gives the crumb a nice color. 🙂
Love these recipes! I’m a Swede in San Antonio, TX and I would love to know where you found the Sprats?
Hi there! I honestly can’t remember if I got them at Central Market or Whole Foods, but it was one of the two!
Well I’m born and bread swedish and this has me scratching my head.
The bread u posted looks great but does not look like traditional limpa.
Jansons Frestelse is ALWAYS made with anchovies and nothing else. This is not authentic nor correct.
I do understand that recipes change when people come to a new country, I’m sure that’s what happened here.