Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Swedish Limpa

{Blogger won't accept any titles at the moment... but.....look what the lovely Meeta has to say in the comments....that worked! thanks sweetie!}

Anyway, I've made limpa before, from scratch and from a mix of flour we brought from Sweden, I even tried the mix from Ikea (twice, but both times I couldn't get a satisfying result). This is one I made using the recipe in Baking with Julia. Resulting loaves were very good although more flavoured than I used before. This larger amount of spices makes the bread a little less versatile; I like it with cheese but cold cuts is a bit more tricky due to the use of anise seeds and orange. Toasted with a dab of butter it's downright delicious.

Crust and crumb each were just perfect (see pic below) I admit that I love a crusty artisan bread but that's not what you are aiming at here. This bread makes a soft and somewhat chewy crust, (which is caused I think by the amount of sweetener) blends perfectly with the soft crumb inside. Breads made with part rye can be a little gummy inside because it's very tempting to add either more flour or even water in the dough-making stage, be careful not to do that, the rye will continue to absorb water during proofing. Adding more flour than needed will result in a dense and dry crumb whereas adding too much water in the initial stage will render a clammy, gummy crumb. Recipe:
(adapted from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan)
2 cups milk (scalded and cooled till lukewarm)
1 ts caraway seeds }
1 ts fennel seeds } grind coarsely using a mortar and pestle
1 ts anise seeds }
1 tbs active dry yeast (2.1/4 ts instant yeast*)
1 ts sugar (omitted)
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup molasses (used our Dutch stroop, but less)
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted (used 70 grams**)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar (used less of our "basterd" sugar***)
1.1/2 ts salt
grated zest of 1 orange
1.1/2 cups light or medium rye flour (used the dutch "sharp" rye flour which is like rye ww)
5 - 6 cups bread flour (used 5x150 gr. = 725 gr ****)

I never proof my instant yeast so just combine water, milk, molasses, butter, brown sugar, salt, crushed seeds and grated orange zest in the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the paddle, whisk in rye flour and stir until smooth. Add 1 cup of the flour and again mix until very smooth (batter like). Switching to the dough hook, mix in as much additional bread flour to make a stiff dough.

While I almost always use my stand mixer to knead my dough, aiming at kneading for approx.
10 minutes on low-medium speed, I always allow some "hands-on" kneading to get a feel for the dough. Not much of a work-out, just a couple of minutes to really feel if the dough needs anything. This is going to be a smooth, soft dough, somewhat stiffer than you (I) would normally aim for.

First rise as usual in a lightly oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap (plastic bag or as I do: a shower cap) for an hour or so, doubles in bulk.

Deflate and shape: gentle deflating by folding the dough over itself once or twice. Shape in desired shape: I made a "batard" and a round loaf that I proofed in a proofing basket, thoroughly floured. When using such basket you can either flour your dough ball, smoothing the flour over the dough with your hands or flour the basket itself making sure it has flour all over.
Again, the rye in the dough will get you a clay-like dough, not as airy as you would expect but don't worry it will rise....slowly.

Second rise: again cover with plastic and let almost double in size. Try to catch it just before it's peak, thus allowing for some ovenspring.
Bake in a preheated oven 375F for 35-45 minutes.
Okay, now you should have two wonderful smelling loaves, while they cool it's time for some discussion:

Any suggestions on why the milk has to be heated? Other than giving the yeast a head start?

* on yeast: active dry vs. instant => when you're using instant you'll need to reduce the amount of yeast by 25%.

** this is a lot of butter, I sort of followed the recipe here but I made some heavily buttered/sweetened versions of dough before and somehow experience difficulties in rise. Why would that be? Any suggestions how I can improve that? There is a wonderful sounding recipe in one of my books using bourbon... made that once and failed horribly, the dough resembled playdoh even after 4 hours of rising...

*** Our Dutch basterd sugar is available in 3 colours: white, yellow and brown, a combination of granulated sugar with invert sugar, caramel and moisture added. It's not exactly muscovado sugar but can be substituted, however this kind of sugar has more moisture in it so take that into account (ie. cookies will spread more easily when using basterd sugar). The darker color is higher in moisture, invert sugar and caramel.

**** Tadaaa, here we go again.... exactly how much does a cup of flour weigh? What can I say that is not already been said. Scoop vs. spoon, level, sweep, fluff or not? In almost every book I own there is some explanation on a how-to in that particular book for that particular author (that is when you're lucky!). What I really don't understand is that something that evidently needs so much clarification is still being used. Beats me!

Love the books that give weights (in ounces or grams) next to cups, apart from pure greed that is one reason to just go and buy the book! I do have a set of metal cups in my kitchen (American, and yes cups as well as spoon sizes differ between the continents) but I adore my Salter scale that weighs in ounces as well as grams. Can you imagine the trouble a Dutch baker has to go through? Fluff, scoop, level, and weigh and accordingly taking into account the differences in flour (our European flour comes from softer wheat and as such you'll usually need more flour for American recipes, or not....), the weather and the age of the flour. All these circumstances have their influence on the way flour absorbs liquid.

Usually I calculate 140 grams for 1 cup of flour, why 150 in this recipe? Because Julia/Dorie explains that her cup of flour in this book weighs 5 ounces. I have a list on my fridge that says 5 oz = 150 grams and ahem, now I notice this little list which says that 5 ounces is 140 grams (checked with the converter on the right hand side, they are right!) which means that the list on my freezer is terribly wrong....... and I use it all the time..... HELP!!

· Beth 4.5 ounces (126gr)
· Kevin 5.2 ounces (145gr)
· Susan 5 ounces (140gr)

list is copied from the very recent discussion in A year in bread, please go over and read! And maybe add your thoughts to the discussion?


  1. It looks absolutely perfect! now, maybe I should try to bake some too...

  2. Oh, it makes my heart so happy to know that I can bake in that shape now too!
    Warm milk - can't find a source to quote but I'm thinking it may have to do with heat breaking the protein bonds but don't know why, maybe it is more the warmth for the yeast.
    Would the time butter or bourbon going into the recipe influence (like salt to early slows everything dow) - can alcohol kill yeast?
    Yea, well, you know my confusion level here.
    Factoring in different cups, flour, weather, bakers, scales, maybe I just have to pay more attention to the feel.

  3. SueCooksWild10/7/07 3:12 PM

    What a beautiful loaf! You certainly are a student of bread baking! All that thought and analysis!! One could get quite confused by it all! Just give me a slice with some jam and I'm a happy camper!

  4. Oh this looks soooo good. Nothing like fresh bread and butter yummy!

    By the way the way to get around the Blogger title glitch is writing the titles in Preview mode. For some reason it works there!!!

  5. Het verschilt ook vaak per boek wat een cup bloem zou wegen. Ik heb boeken waar ik 150 gram moet nemen, maar ook varierend tussen 125 en 142. Heeft vaak ook te maken met hoe de schrijver/schrijfster een cup vult: scheppend, scheppend in losgeroerde bloem, gezeefde bloem, met een lepel vullend ...

    Tegenwoordig schrijf ik voor in het boek wat een cup moet wegen.

    Prachtig brood trouwens!

  6. It is wrong that when I saw limpa I thought it said loompa, like in Oompa loompa from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

    Nevermind. Anyway looks fantastic.

  7. No it's not wrong at all! From now on it's Oompa Loompa bread in this household!

  8. That is such a gorgeous loaf of bread...I am so intimidated by bread and pastry, and I am amazed at some of the intricate creations many of the skilled food bloggers can turn out.

  9. This looks great! I will have to give it a try...

  10. It looks beautiful! And sounds even more beautiful when you say it has Dutch stroop! Oooh la la


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