Swedish Limpa Bread

Baking bread while it's cold out is a good way to warm up one's home.  Over the past few months I've been baking Swedish Limpa Bread on a regular basis because it seems to have a little bit of everything.  There is a hint of sweetness that is just right with every bite, and yet, it's perfectly savory to have with eggs for breakfast because of the rye flour.  The recipe I turn to, which I'm quite spoiled by, is from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads. If you don't own this book you really should add it to your cookbook library, because there is a lot to learn from Bernard's recipes, tips and anecdotes.

Have you ever had limpa?  If so, then you understand that enjoying a slice of it slathered with butter or some marmalade is one of life's little pleasures.  I love having this toasted bread with my tea or with a cup of coffee if I can help it. Don't tell anyone, but I've also had it with some nutella spread and it is amazing!  Keep reading.

As I said, I've been baking Limpa this Fall and Winter, so there is a fresh loaf at all times in the freezer just waiting to be toasted and reheated.  Thankfully I've managed to find the exact recipe online for all of you to try, if you aren't familiar with it, and let me just say, you've been warned!  Once you master the recipe once you will try it again and again, perhaps adding something or subtracting something to suit your tastes.  There aren't too many ingredients and with only two rises, you can have loaves warm and ready for dinner in no time.  The one thing I recommend you not omit is the freshly grated orange zest, for it is essential to the bread's flavor.

Swedish Limpa Ingredients
I always find it best to set out my measured ingredients before I begin the recipe.  Some may find this fussy, but I find it to be an absolute must if you want success when baking.  As you can see, the flours are separated (per the recipe), the raisins are a mix of golden and regular Thompson, the molasses and sugar are ready to be added and the orange zest is fragrant and fresh.  The caraway, cumin and fennel seeds are sitting in my Mason & Cash mortar and pestle from England, waiting to be pounded.  The recipe doesn't call for this, but I like to crush the seeds as I'm doing the initial kneading so that I release the essence of the seeds.

Flours: the bread flour of choice in my kitchen is from King Arthur.  I've experimented with different rye flours and have come to love Arrowhead Mills Rye Flour and Hodgson Mill Rye Flour.  The choice is yours.

click on the link above

Ever since I bought myself that giant KitchenAid 7qt. mixer, I have loved how quickly the ingredients come together.  I've done this recipe by hand and believe me when I tell you that if you have a stand mixer in the kitchen, use it for this.  Rye breads are heavy to knead by hand and you will indeed have to employ a lot of elbow grease should you choose to do it the old-fashioned way.

Give yourself a good amount of counter space to do the final kneading by hand.  That giant board on my dough counter is used for this purpose, because it sits a few inches lower than a standard counter. I love working here by the sunny window.

Find a good bowl to allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft-free place.  This stoneware bowl from Martha by Mail is perfect.  

The generous recipe makes two loaves.  Once they've cooled down, slice the breads as thin or thick as you feel like and enjoy them.    

Tip:  since the breads don't contain any preservatives, they will only keep for one day.  What I do is slice them completely and seal the loaves in zip-top freezer bags after they have cooled, removing every bit of air.  They then get placed in another zip- top bag to prevent any freezer burn.  Whenever I feel like having some, I remove as many slices as we're going to consume and toast them.  I've kept this bread for up to a month in the freezer and have never had any problems with it.

Limpa and nutella heaven!  If I'm not having it with this chocolate chestnut spread, then I reach for some good butter and/or marmalade.  With a cup of coffee or with a cup of tea, Limpa is bound to become a favorite at your house.  Make some this week!


  1. A little behind on my reading of all that is posted for feb. I like to scour the whole blog for wonderful pictures and ideas. I love the suggestions for everyday things and ideas that make my life easier and enjoyable. Thanks again for such a wonderful recipe. I'm going to try this bread! It can go along with a Katie Brown recipe of her grand mothers cinnamon bread that I make often and love! Thx David.��

  2. I've never looked at Katie Brown's cinnamon bread, but I'm going to find it. Co.Co., isn't it wonderful when you have bread baking in your kitchen? There is nothing like that aroma.

    Happy Baking!

  3. My mother was full Swedish. As a boy we traveled often to Chicago to visit my grandparents who were Swedish migrants from the 1920s and lived in a Swedish district called Andersonville. I grew up loving Limpa, Swedish coffee cake, palt with mint jelly, pickled herring, and Christmas Glog.
    The last remaining authentic Swedish bakery in Andersonville closed last February. All the original immigrants have died off and the community has been gentrified by affluent generation X'ers with families. Better than it becoming run down I suppose. But sad there's no one left to remember and keep alive the taste of Sweden.


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