Friday, December 12, 2008

Swedish Limpa (Rye Bread with Orange, Molasses, and Anise)

Do you know where Santa's reindeer are raised and trained? Sweden! The guy in the middle is Blitzen, who is charged with training the other two, Erik and Axel. They've been going through several exercises in preparation for the big event on Christmas Eve. Word has it that Santa now has an on-board satellite navigation system. That plus his Blackberry should keep him on track (he probably subscribes to Wired magazine). Erik and Axel will be filling in for Dancer and Prancer, who will be taking a much needed vacation after 20years of service.

Word has it too that Santa loves Limpa and takes a loaf along in his sleigh. He gets mighty hungry during the long winter night of delivering gifts! I don't have a photograph of my Limpa because I haven't made it as yet this year. I might not get to it until after Christmas as my cookie baking will be taking much of my time in the kitchen. Nevertheless, I keep getting requests for the recipe. So ... here it is, sans photo.

Limpa is a bit sweeter than New York /Jewish Rye, Russian Rye or Pumpernickel. I love eating and baking rye bread - all kinds. In his book "The New Complete Book of Breads", Bernard Clayton says, "rye is the glamour flour of the dark grains". I agree. If you haven't worked with rye flour before, this is a good recipe with which to begin as it doesn't require a starter or sponge and comes togther rather quickly (yet is full of flavor!). Carefully read through the recipe and you'll be fine. Questions? Just send me an e-mail or contact The Baker's Hotline at King Arthur Flour (802.649.3717).


• 3 to 3-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour (King Arthur brand preferred)
• 3 cups medium or dark rye flour (Bob's Red Mill Dark Rye Flour is excellent and widely available)
• 2 envelopes Fleishmann's "Rapid-Rise", Red Star "Quick-Rise", or 2 teaspoons SAF Instant Yeast (preferred)
• 2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten* (optional but helpful)
• 2 cups milk (nonfat is fine)
• 1/2 cup light molasses (such as "Grandma's Original")
• 1/4 cup orange marmalade mixed with a one tablespoon orange juice.
• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter - plus extra soft butter for greasing the rising bowl
• 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (do not use iodized salt)
• 1 tablespoon anise seed (or 1-1/2 teaspoons ground anise)
• 1 tablespoon fennel seed (or 1-1/2 teaspoons ground fennel)
• 1 tablespoon caraway seed (or 2 teaspoons ground caraway)
• 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
• Zest of 1 large orange (colored part only)
• 1 egg yolk lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
• Cornmeal (if using a baking/pizza stone)

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 2-1/2 cups of the unbleached flour, yeast, vital wheat gluten, salt, spices, and the orange peel and blend well. Heat milk, butter, molasses, and marmalade in a medium saucepan until warm (120º) (the butter does not have to be completely melted). Add to flour mixture all at once and blend at low speed, using paddle attachment, until moistened. Beat at medium speed for 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beat for another minute. With mixer running on low speed, add rye flour and additional all-purpose flour 1/2 cup at a time and knead until dough pulls cleanly away from sides of bowl and forms a ball - about 2 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 20 minutes. This autolyse period gives the flour a change to hydrate.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 5-8 minutes (form dough into a ball, fold edges of dough toward center and push dough down and away with heels of hands. Give dough a quarter turn and repeat until dough is smooth and elastic. Feel free to knead 3-4 minutes with the electric mixer using the dough hook but knead by hand for 2-3 minutes afterward.) Rye flour is inherently sticky and recalcitrant. Use a metal dough scraper to gather up the dough. Resist the urge to add additional flour - the dough will become less difficult as you work with it.

Liberally grease another large bowl with unsalted soft butter. Place dough in the bowl, turning to grease it on all sides. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place free of drafts (the oven is a good place - turned on for one minute at 300º and then turned off) until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Gently deflate dough. Let rest 10 minutes, covered. Divide into two equal parts. Shape into round loaves, seam side down (this takes a little practice - just keep rotating the dough in a circular motion on the work surface between your hands, while keeping it taught. It doesn’t have to be perfect). Place on a baking sheet covered with Reynolds Release foil or parchment paper or directly on a baking/pizza stone sprinkled with cornmeal (you don't need to preheat the stone). Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place, about 30 minutes. You can also shape into traditional loaves. Scoring of the crust before baking is not necessary but as Bernard Clayton advises, prick the top of each loaf with a toothpick, 1" or more deep in a dozen places so that steam can escape.

Preheat oven to 375º for at least 20 minutes. Combine water and egg yolk and brush on loaves. Reduce the oven temperature to 350º and bake for 45 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when lightly tapped and/or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaves read between 190º and 210º (most reliable method). Ovens vary so your loaves make take more time. Cool on wire racks. When completely cool, store in plastic bags, leaving the bags partially open (round loaves fit perfectly into gallon size Ziploc bags). For a softer crust, omit the egg wash and brush the loaves with very soft butter immediately after baking.

Notes: Limpa is delicious the day it is made but is even better on the second and third days when the flavors have had the chance to develop. It's wonderful toasted and great with cheese and/or a well-crafted beer, ale or stout. *Hodgson Mill Vital Wheat Gluten with Vitamin C and Bob's Red Mill Organic Dark Rye Flour are widely available in the baking isle of most supermarkets. Similar brands can also be had from The Baker's Catalogue at King Arthur Flour. Rye flour has very little gluten. The Vital Wheat Gluten helps to ensure a higher rise (as does the higher protein bread flour) and the Vitamin C extends freshness. Yeast dies at 138º. Liquid should feel comfortably warm on the wrist, as with a baby's bottle. For accuracy, use a thermometer. For seedless rye, ground anise, fennel and caraway may be used. All are available from Penzey's.


Nancy Swanson said...

The Swedish bakery in our area recently closed and I am trying to bake Coffee breads and Limpa. This recipe is wonderful! Having never done this before, I followed the recipe exactly. Everyone thought it was done professionally! Thank you so much for sharing. My husband is loving the aromas coming from our kitchen!

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