Swedish friends invited us for a casual supper and a movie, and I was arrogant enough to think that I could make them a Swedish-style rye bread. I'd already established, with the same Swedes, that the term limpa, which I had always understood to mean a type of bread, a recipe, in fact described a shape of loaf, a long bloomer shape, rather than a round. So I set out to modernize one of Bernard Clayton Jr's recipes, desweetening it too.


  • 300 grams whole rye flour
  • Grated rind of 2 oranges
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
  • 50 grams molasses
  • 135 grams seedless raisins or sultanas
  • 560 grams strong white flour
  • 480 grams warm water
  • 25 grams butter, softened
  • 10 grams salt
  • 15 grams fresh yeast (or whatever)


  1. Crumble the yeast into a little of the water with a pinch of sugar and allow it to get going while you weigh the other stuff.

  2. Grate the orange rind into a large bowl. I'm lucky to have a Microplane. Add all the rye flour, the fennel and cumin seeds, the molasses, the raisins, the frothy yeast and the rest of the water and about 175 grams of the white flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth and free of lumps.

  3. Add the salt, the butter cut into small pieces and the rest of the white flour a handful at a time and stir to incorporate the flour. The dough will come together into a somewhat sticky mass.

  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead briskly to bring it together. It will likely remain a little sticky, so work fast. I kneaded about 4 minutes.

  5. Round up the dough and put it into the washed and dried large bowl, cover, and allow to rise in a warm place until roughly doubled in size. Mine took about 3 hours, during which the smell of the orange zest became maddeningly intense.

  6. Remove the dough onto a floured board and divide in two. My total dough weight was 1570 grams, so the loaves were 785 grams each. Roughly form the dough into balls and allow 10-15 minutes bench rest.

  7. Shape the dough as you prefer. I made one ball and one limpa. Cover with a floured cloth and allow to rise, about 45 minutes.

  8. Heat the oven to 190℃ (375℉) and when the loaves are ready slash them and slide them on in. Bake for about 45 minutes until they are done.

  9. Take the limpa loaf to your Swedish friends for a most enjoyable supper and accept their praise with suitable amounts of modesty.

I didn't get a crumb shot, because it was all eaten. But it was soft, and moist, and spicy with little bombs of sweetness where the raisins were. All in all, a great bread, which I am sending to YeastSpotting.

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