A Swedish Bread for the Holidays

by Chris Bjorklund

In past December newsletters, I’ve shared recipes from my family’s Christmas Eve dinner that features Swedish meatballs, the heated adult beverage Swedish glögg and Green Goddess salad dressing. Now it’s time to tell you about the bread I make every year called limpa bread.

This Scandinavian bread was originally made from fermented brewer’s wort, a byproduct of beer making. While some recipes include stout beer as a key ingredient, mine uses molasses, orange rind, fennel and cumin seeds. Limpa is traditionally served at Christmas Eve smörgåsbords.

Not everyone likes a hearty, flavorful bread like this, but I love it, especially the next day. It’s so aromatic when toasted and it has to be accompanied by fried eggs. It’s great with cream cheese and jam, too. The recipe below is from one of my oldest paperback cookbooks, Recipes for a Small Planet, that has been used so much it’s falling apart!


Limpa Bread

*Makes 2 small loaves or 1 large loaf

1 cup boiling stock
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
1/3 cup molasses
2 teaspoons grated dried orange peel OR 1 tablespoon fresh peel
1 tablespoon baking yeast
1 cup milk
2 cups rye flour
2-3 cups whole wheat flour

Pour the stock over the seeds, orange peel, salt and molasses. When the mixture cools to lukewarm, add the yeast, milk and rye flour. Add enough whole wheat flour to make a stiff dough. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Let rise for 2 hours or until double the size.

Shape into loaves, place into oiled loaf pans and let rise again OR shape into two small rounds or one large round. Place on an oiled cookie sheet to rise. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.

Happy baking and happy holidays!