24 October 2009
Swedish Limpa Bread
I remember picking up the first care package in the dingy basement of my college dorm. Sure, I'd been to summer camp before, but now I was on my own, taking the subway with my roommates, dashing across the traffic of Seventh Avenue, pretending like was a real New Yorker, and hoping I would really be one someday soon. And a few weeks went by, and there was that box, with my mom's handwriting on the top, and I opened it and all these colorful things just spilled out. Polka dotted tissue paper and cards and a little stuffed animal and brochures from the last art exhibit my mom went to and extra bobby pins. And right in the middle was a big round loaf of bread, all swaddled in plastic wrap and pink plastic cellophane like you wrap cookies in at Christmas.
In the seventies, when it was trendy to make everything from scratch, my mom knitted blankets and pressed homemade paper and cooked yogurt in little cups and she baked bread. She had the Sunset Book of Breads, and over the course of a year she made every single recipe. Even the danishes, she'd always tell me. But her favorite was the Swedish Limpa bread, the thick crumbed bread flavored with dark rye, molasses, cumin seeds, and orange peel. She loved it because it made great toast, crusty and warm and swathed in butter.
I had had mom's Limpa bread before, but sitting on the floor of my dorm room holding that loaf up to my nose it was as if I was smelling for the first time. And tasting each bit of rye and caraway and orange with each bite. And like mom, it's still one of my favorite breads, perfect for those first cool days of autumn, when the leaves are falling and turning on the oven is just what you want to do.
Swedish Limpa Bread
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cracked wheat (aka bulgur)
1 teaspoon crushed fennel or anise seed
1 teaspoon crushed cumin seed
1/4 teaspoon crushed caraway seed
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup molasses
3 tablespoons butter
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) dry active yeast
1/4 warm water
1 cup milk
2 cups unsifted dark rye flour
about 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
1. Place cracked wheat, fennel, cumin, caraway, orange zest, salt, molasses and butter in a very large bowl and pour boiling water over top. Let sit about 5 minutes, until cooled to lukewarm.
2. Meanwhile, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let sit until foamy.
3. Add the yeast mixture to the cracked wheat mixture and add the dark rye and the milk. Add enough flour to make a moderately stiff dough. Turn the douh out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Yes, I sad 10 minutes.
4. Place in a large greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise for 2 hours, until nearly doubled in bulk.
5. Punch down the dough and form 1 large or 2 medium size loaves. Place on a greased baking sheet and allow to rise until almost doubled, about 1 hour.
6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes for the large 12 " loaf, or 35 minutes for the smaller 9" loaves.