Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Personal Favorite - My Recipe Rotation - Swedish Limpa Bread

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This is one of the first breads I learned to make, and I suspect the pleasant memories associated with those very early days in the kitchen explain why it holds a place in my permanent rotation. It has been my favorite bread for over 6 decades now, and while I try to replace it, I've never found an adequate substitute. When this bread was first featured on One Perfect Bite, I posted 2 recipes for it, one modern and one not so much. Although I appreciate the ease with which the no-knead version comes together, I am a traditionalist and use the original method when I make this bread for the Silver Fox and myself. I love the heady aroma of the orange and anise seeds as the bread bakes and I can't think of a bread in the world that makes a better open-faced sandwich. If you have never had Limpa bread, I urge you to give either version of this bread a try. Here is what I had to say about the bread back in 2008.

Today is going to be a recipe "twofer". We older gals sometimes back ourselves into corners. To avoid the label "old" or, even worse, "passe" we do things that aren't really necessary - like today's bread. Bread making techniques have changed a lot in the last few years and I thought it would be nice to pass on a stored-dough, high-moisture loaf that uses a no-knead bread technique. I actually purchased (unusual for me) a copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, found a recipe for Swedish Limpa and went at it, despite the fact that I already had a lovely recipe in my files. What did I find? The new recipe requires advance planning; while time to shape may be 5 minutes, you'll need more time for mixing, rising and baking. The dough is slack and loose and is not easy to handle. That being said, I must say the end product is a very nice loaf of bread and it's very easy to make. I followed directions to a tee, as is my wont first time through a recipe, though I did omit the sugar from the cornstarch glaze because there's so much honey in the bread. You'll need a mixer with a dough hook or a strong arm to pull this off, but the bread is worth it. So is the book.

Trouble is I prefer my old, knead-me-till-you-die recipe. Joyce Carol Oates once said she "found comfort" in the daily routines of housekeeping. I feel that way about bread baking, so I'm going to include my old-fashioned version of Mrs. P's recipe as well. Take your pick, either method will produce a produce a wonderful Limpa bread.

Swedish Limpa Bread - No Knead Recipe

3 cups lukewarm water
1-1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (1-1/2 packets)
1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon ground anise seed
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons orange zest
1 cup rye flour
5-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Cornstarch wash (for each loaf: 1/4 teaspoon ground anise seed, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, plus 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar mixed together for sprinkling on the top crust)

1) To mix and store the dough, add yeast, salt, honey, spices, orange zest with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or lidded (not airtight) container.
2) Mix in remaining dry ingredients using a spoon, food processor with dough attachment or a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
3) Cover; let rest until dough rises and collapses back on itself, about 2 hours.
4) The dough can be used at this point, but it will be VERY loose and hard to shape. Alternatively, refrigerate for up to 7 days.
5) When ready to proceed, dust top with flour, punch down and divide dough into 4 pieces. Dust again with flour; quickly shape into balls by stretching the surface of dough around the bottom on all four sides. Cover 2 cookie sheets with corn meal. Place bread on cookie sheets. Let rest for 40 minutes.
6) Twenty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place an empty broiler pan on the floor of the oven. Position racks to divide oven into thirds.
7) Prepare cornstarch wash (see below). Paint surface of loaves with wash. Use a razor to slash a cross on top of each loaf. Sprinkle with the additional anise, cardamom and sugar (I omitted the sugar).
8) Pour 1 cup hot water into broiler pan. Place 1 cookie sheet on each oven rack. Close door; no peeking! Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown and firm. Cool completely before slicing. Yield: 4 one pound loaves.

Cornstarch Wash:In a small microwavable container, blend 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch with a small amount of water to form a paste. Add 1/2 cup water and whisk to dissolve. Microwave until mixture appears glassy, 30 to 60 seconds on HIGH power. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Cook's Note: Recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Bread may be baked in batches. Unused dough can be refrigerated for up to 7 days.

Swedish Limpa - Original Recipe

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups warm non-alcoholic amber ale or beer
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon ground anise seed
Zest of 1 large orange
1 cup rye flour
4-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour + 1 cup for kneading

1) Combine yeast, sugar and warm water in a large mixing bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes to proof. Whisk in beer, honey, vegetable oil, salt, cardamom, anise and orange zest.
2) Combine rye and all-purpose flour. Stir 3 cups of flour into liquid mixture. Beat to combine. Let sit for 1 hour. Stir down and add remaining flour to make a stiff dough (it will be sticky).
3) Sprinkle work surface with flour. Turn dough onto surface; knead well. The dough will remain sticky, but it will become smoother. Place into a well-greased bowl; turn dough to coat all sides. Cover; let rise till doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch down and form into 2 small loaves. Place on a large greased cookie sheet. Lightly brush tops with cooking oil; cover with parchment paper and refrigerate for 3 hours. Remove from refrigerator about 20 minutes before baking.
4) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 1 hour, or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool before slicing. Yield: 2 one pound loaves.

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