Thursday, October 2, 2008

Swedish Limpa Bread Two Ways

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.


Maria said...

Both recipes look fantastic! I love a good rustic loaf!

Jeff Hertzberg said...

I'm Jeff Hertzberg, one of the co-authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I'm so glad our limpa compared favorably with the old reliable. If you really want to knead, you can do it, but do it before you rest the dough for it's initial rise-- it adds a little structure that some of our testers found desirable (but isn't neccesary).

Come visit us anytime at, where you can post questions into any "Comments" field, or click on "Bread Questions" on the left side of the homepage and choose among the options.

Jeff Hertzberg

Chicago tribune video:

Mary Bergfeld said...

Jeff, I'm having an 'oh, my God' moment. With this type response it's no wonder your book is such a success. My highest compliment is an 'atta girl'; I guess I need to come up with something less gender specific. Thanks for stopping by. Mary

Anonymous said...

Wow! I'll have to give it a go! So cool Jeff stopped by!

Jeff Hertzberg said...

Mary: Thanks for stopping by our site. One other thing I should have said... if you do decide to knead prior to rising the batch, don't add flour the usual way or the dough will get too dry. Knead with wet hands and sort of pull and push it around. A dough scraper can be helpful here, again using water rather than flour as you knead. Jeff

Anonymous said...

I have never made a loaf of bread from scratch, without the use of a bread machine. I am without a bread machine for years now, and wanted to make my father (who's parents came from Sweden) a loaf of limpa for this Christmas. I tried 3 unsuccessful loaves from 2 different recipes that were in my mother's recipe collection. After becoming frustrated, I started looking online for some recipes, and I came across your blog. I thought I'd try the Limpa recipe you posted from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book. I am happy to say that I my father received 2 large loaves of yummy Limpa for Christmas this year. Thank you for your post, and thank you to the authors for having such a simple recipe that even a newbie can make! I will be picking up their book too, in the future. Thanks again! Lisa H.

Donna said...

I made the original recipe but had no room in the fridge so I let it rise on the counter. Baked to perfection in just 35 minutes. It is awesomely delicious. Just like my mom used to make. Thanks for the great recipe!

June12345 said...

As usual am late to the party ! Mary, why non alcoholic beer?

Mary Bergfeld said...

June, I use non-alcoholic beer because it leaves no bitter aftertaste. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Meredith Roark Childress said...

Mary, I made the no knead Swedish limpa on Tuesday and baked half of the recipe. It was delicious. I've baked the second half today. A satisfying success all round. I didn't have cardamom or anise, so I added 2 tsps. cinnamon--so good! I saw that you liked the original recipe better and will add this: no knead bread is so easy--I like it because my hands hurt and I don't want to knead. I've made the brioche from Artisan in Five and it's amazingly easy and comes out perfectly--an amazing statement given the effort many chefs give to making it. I've made it six-seven times now and it never fails me. Throw it all together and let it sit two hours on the counter, then in the fridge for a while or even overnight or a week. I make it for my grandchildren and they enjoy having it for breakfast. Shape is up to you too! Thanks for the blog--love it!

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