I’ve been excited about Swedish Rye (Limpa), the next BBA Challenge bread, since well before the challenge, so it’s about time I made it. I imagine this might be the first time many fellow BBA bakers have heard of Limpa, let alone made it or eaten it, but I first had it a while ago in Chicago, where I purchased a whole loaf on a visit to the old Swedish part of town. (Yes, that’s what I did in Chicago, I bought a loaf of bread and Swedish licorice. Over 10 years ago, but less than 20…and that’s all I will admit to). And I remember loving it. In fact when I first bought the BBA, I was disappointed that this recipe required a sourdough starter, thinking “I’ll never do that…” (Fast forward to find a stiff levain, a liquid levain, and a rye sourdough starter currently inhabiting my fridge. Fast forward to my husband looking for the yogurt sauce I made for our eggplant salad, throwing up his hands: “I keep thinking I’ve found it, but no, it’s just more sourdough!”
I know reviews have been mixed with certain other BBA Challenge participants: Phyl and Anne Marie are fans, Andrea not so much, and Daniel’s oven sabotaged his efforts. In part, itt’s probably a matter of whether or not you like the flavors of fennel or anise (which I do, though i hate black licorice candy–who knows?) I didn’t realize that fennel and anise were different spices until making this dough, and not having anise I just left it out. (Here I am, thinking back on many other recipes I’ve made with “anise” aka fennel–oops!). I like fennel, but more importantly, this had cardamom, one of my all-time favorite flavors. Throw in the citrus essence, bring to a boil and steep, and enjoy the warm, aromatic scent that pervades your kitchen! This mix of flavors is then mixed with your sourdough starter and molasses to create your pre-ferment: definitely a most unusual beginning for a bread.
I was nervous whether my pre-ferment was truly ready (the instructions say it should be frothy, you can judge for yourself from my photo below if I achieved that) and as always I was uncertain as to whether or not I had kneaded properly given the presence of that tricky flour, rye. But I think I somehow got it right: I got a great oven spring, a beautifully shaped loaf, and a delicious, unique bread. For me it’s definitely worth making again, though I wish I could think of more uses for it: that very uniqueness makes it a little less versatile (not that I have problems eating bread straight, mind you). Anyone know a good Swedish holiday to celebrate?