Swedish Limpa Bread (Vörtlimpa)

Light Rye Bread

Light Rye Bread

By Cat, Jan 2012  (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

Includes: 1. About rye flour and substitutes; 2. Limpa bread, yeast-risen recipe; 3. Ingredients for one loaf (for testing)

See also: 1. Sourdough Swedish Limpa Bread (Rye); 2. Bread & Rolls Menu

According to Scandinavian Food (on About.com (3)), Limpa bread was “originally made from the fermented brewer’s wort produced in beer-making.” It can still be made that way today, or with beer. The flavoring with orange zest; anise, fennel or caraway seeds; and/or spices make this a popular bread in Sweden.

It is typically made from light or medium rye with wheat flour. Light rye is comparable to unbleached white flour in that most of the bran and germ have been removed, but it has a tiny bit of that rye color and flavor. Medium rye has more rye flavor, and used to be the most common type of rye flour in grocery stores. Now it is hard to find, and is not available at Bob’s Red Mill. See References section (below) for online sources of medium rye flour.

About medium rye flour and substitutes

Medium rye has more bran than light rye, comparable to a mix of white and whole rye flours (according to Sourdough Home (4)), but mixing light and whole rye is not necessarily a good substitute for medium rye; unbleached white flour (wheat) and whole rye flour would be a better combination.

If you grind whole rye grain at home, you will get something between dark rye and pumpernickel, depending upon how fine the grind. It is difficult to remove the bran at home, but you can approximate the rise of medium rye by using a combo of fresh-ground whole rye and unbleached bread flour (wheat) or unbleached all-purpose white flour. Also look for versions that are not brominated, as bromine is toxic.

Limpa Bread, Yeast-risen Recipe

See also Sourdough Swedish Limpa Bread (Rye) (I’ve not yet tested either version – yeast or sourdough)

This recipe is adapted from three sources:

  • The Great Scandinavian Baking Book, by Beatrice Ojakangas (1) is my main source
  • food.com (2)
  • Scandinavian Food (on about.com (3))

The Ojakangas version includes wonderful flavors from seeds (which I love), but uses some ingredients that I would avoid for reason in parenthesis, including:

  • dark corn syrup (GMO unless Organic); I’d use maple syrup or molasses
  • brown sugar (highly refined); I’d use Rapadura sugar
  • ‘salad’ oil (rancid before bottling, and highly refined); I’d use butter, ghee (clarified butter) or olive oil

She uses milk as the main liquid, but my other two sources use orange juice as the liquid, and butter instead of oil. I offer three options for the liquid in the recipe, and I retain the wonderful seed flavors.

I don’t think the addition of oat (in Ojakangas version) is typical of limpa recipes but since I love oat, I keep it in mine. She also gives a range of amounts for molasses and sugar, depending on how sweet you like the bread, and the occasion for which it is being made. I include her range, but choose the lower end of the range for myself.

The food.com (2) recipe gives an alternate method for mixing the dough, which involves boiling the whole seeds first, rather than grinding them. See Alternated Mixing Method, below.


Ingredients (4 loaves; see below for 1-loaf modification):

  • 1 – 2 oranges
  • 1 tsp each finely crushed caraway seed, fennel seed, and anise seed
  • 3 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water, 105° – 115°  (not needed for alternate method)
  • ½ – 1 cup dark molasses
  • 4 cups chilled liquid *
  • 1 cup melted butter or ghee (clarified butter)
  • ½ – 1 cup Rapadura sugar (or dark brown sugar)
  • 2 – 3 tsp Unrefined sea salt
  • 1 cup uncooked rolled oats (old-fashioned)
  • 2 – 4 cups rye flour (see discussion, above)
  • 5 – 10 cups bread flour or unbleached white flour
  • warm molasses to brush on hot loaves

* liquid options:

  • chilled milk
  • half freshly squeezed orange juice and half cold filtered water
  • combination of orange juice, water & beer (stout or amber)


  • large bread bowl
  • saucepan (for alternate mixing method only)
  • 4 baking pans: 9” round cake pans or 9” x 5” loaf pans


  1. Place seeds in mortar and grind fine. Grate zest of one orange and add to seeds.
  2. Squeeze juice from orange(s) to make 1 – 2 cups (depending on which liquid combo you are using).
  3. In bread bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and let stand about 5 minutes, until it begins to froth.
  4. Stir in molasses, liquid, butter, sugar, salt, spices and orange zest; then slowly stir in oats and rye flour. Beat well.
  5. Adding a bit of the white flour at a time, stir in as much as you can to make a stiff dough. There should be no loose flour in the bowl, but the dough will be lumpy.
  6. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let site on counter overnight (for colder climates), or 3 – 4 hours in a cool place (for warm climates).
  7. Dust top of dough and kneading surface with white flour. Slide spatula down sides of bowl to release dough, then turn out, floured side down, onto kneading surface. Knead until smooth & satiny, about 5 – 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed to keep dough from sticking. If batch is too big, divide it into half and knead each part separate.
  8. Let dough rest while you butter the baking pans. Divide dough into 4 parts and shape each part for the pans (round ball if using a round cake pan; oblong if using bread pans). Place each in its pan with smooth sides up. Cover with damp cloth and let rise in warm spot until almost doubled, about 1 hour.
  9. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375° F. When loaves have risen, place them in oven and bake about 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. If bread browns too quickly in oven, cover with foil to finish baking.
  10. Remove from oven, remove loaves from pan to cooling rack. Brush tops with warm molasses, then let loaves cool.

Alternate Mixing Method:

NOTE: You will not need the ¼ cup warm water for proofing the yeast in this method.

  1. Combine juice, butter, Rapadura/brown sugar and spices/seeds in saucepan; bring to a boil and boil about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool some. Add cold water/beer, test temperature. When it reaches 105° – 110°F, add the yeast and proof about 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer to mixing bowl. Add rye flour and oats, and mix in. Then add white flour as needed to make a soft dough. Following instructions in the previous method, dust top of dough with flour and turn out to knead until smooth and satiny. It will be a soft dough.
  3. Shape loaves, rise, and bake as in previous method.

Ingredients for 1 loaf (used for testing recipe):

  • 1 orange (grate ¼ orange for zest; squeeze ¼ – ½ cup juice depending on which liquid combo you are using)
  • ¼ tsp each finely crushed caraway seed, fennel seed, and anise seed
  • 2 ½ tsp active dry yeast (or one packet)
  • 2 Tbsp warm water, 105° – 115° F (not needed for alternate mixing method)
  • 2 – 4 Tbsp dark molasses
  • 1 cup chilled liquid *
  • ¼ cup melted butter or ghee (clarified butter)
  • 2 – 4 Tbsp Rapadura sugar (or dark brown sugar)
  • ½ – 1 tsp Unrefined sea salt
  • ¼ cup uncooked rolled oats (old-fashioned)
  • ½ – 1 cup light or medium rye flour
  • 1 ¼ – 1 ½ cups bread flour or unbleached white flour
  • warm molasses to brush on hot loaves


  1. The Great Scandinavian Baking Book, by Beatrice Ojakangas,
  2. food.com recipe (food.com/recipe/swedish-limpa-bread-136565)
  3. Scandinavian Food (about.com) recipe (scandinavianfood.about.com/od/breadrecipes/r/limpa_bread.htm)
  4. SourdoughHome, Rye Types (sourdoughhome.com/index.php?content=ryetypes

Online sources of Medium Rye flour

  1. Honeyville Grain, 50 lb bags (shop.honeyville.com/medium-rye-flour-50lb.html)
  2. King Arthur Flour, 3 lb bags (kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/king-arthur-medium-rye-flour-3-lbrthur)
  3.  Weisenberger Grain, 5 lb bags (weisenberger.com/Medium_Rye_Flour_p/300005.htm)


About Cat

See my 'About' page
This entry was posted in Alcohol, Baked, Citrus, Fat or oil, Flour, Leavening, Spices, Sweetener and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.