This bread is called limppu in Finnish & in general it is understood as malted rye bread. It is a soft festive loaf with a sweet aroma, bold spices and a glazing syrup wash finish. Typically we Finns enjoy limppu during Christmas time and Easter but I also think it makes a great sandwich bread.
Malted rye has many forms: cut, chopped, crushed and milled. I count on the last two and they are commonly found methods to bake bread in Finnish culture. When using crushed rye groats, which are coarse and dark bits, you need to take time to soak as well as cook them before baking. Second option is to bake with malted rye flour which is light brown and sand-like flour. With this limppu recipe, I use malted rye flour. Scroll down the post for a photo of malted rye flour to get a hunch how the texture is.
What is malted rye flour?
The malted rye flour has a full taste giving the bread beautiful dark or golden color and sweet notes. Malted rye flour is milled from fermented whole grain. The rye grains are washed, soaked, sprouted and then finally dried. The hotter the drying temperature is, the darker roasting taste of the malted rye.
Malted rye has specific qualities in baking. Malted rye…
- has an ability to absorb water for which it gives the bread longer shelf life
- is diastatic and the enzyme activity transforms starch into sugar increasing the fermentation and volume while decreasing the proofing time
- has a reputation of a natural dough conditioner
Where to find malted rye flour?
Since majority of malts are used for beer brewing, I would check the malt product selection of your local brewing brands. I would then scout the supermarkets with good specialty selections and potentially ask bakeries for their recommendation. Many ways to find malted rye flour.
If you want to bake with the very same malted rye product I’ve used here, check this label and globally delivering web store. The flour brand I used is called Laihian Mallas and it has also an English site here but unfortunately no store yet. (Disclaimer: I’m am in no association with either the malt brand nor the store.)
If you can’t find malted flour anywhere, I’ve got good news for you too! You can make some yourself but you need to be patient and plan ahead. Vanessa Kimbell has a step-by-step guide to homemade malt in her book The Sourdough School: The Ground-Breaking Guide to Making Gut-Friendly Bread. So if you like to get in-depth with your bread baking, making everything yourself from scratch is also possible.
And finally, if you have a Finnish friend coming over, ask they to bring a bag of the malt flour. This product is commonly found in Finnish supermarkets.
About this recipe
Ready to bake malted rye bread? I love this Laihian Mallas product and I wanted to adapt a recipe from the very backside of the package. It’s a relaxed recipe and does not differ much from other limppu recipes out there. The key is to focus on the syrup wash in the end of the oven bake.
The recipe yields two small loaves. The ingredients are scaled by 50 percent from the original recipe and instructions are from yours truly.
If you want your loaf to have a more Christmas feel, use orange juice and a selection of spices. Taste the dough and adjust more spices to your liking.
These two loaves in the photos I baked last spring for sandwiches. I had crushed fennel seeds and aniseed flavoring the milk-based dough. I also added handful of organic raisins which I soaked a little while before adding into the dough. Last spring I was still battling with a small oven here in the countryside which resulted a bit too dark surface.
In the photo below, you see how the first set of syrup wash looks like. Wash the bread with the syrup, do not forget the side parts. The surface should look wet when you transfer the loaves back into the oven. Glazing is build during second half of the baking, I usually wash 4-5 times.
Making limppu the with sourdough starter
What about sourdough? I’ve baked limppu twice with sourdough but I was not perfectly happy with the crust which resulted in cracks. Limppu is supposed to be soft all around and those past sourdough trials with it were too crispy despite the syrup wash. Back then I used 20% starter in relation to the total flour and I had two oven-bake versions.
Sourdough experiments with this recipe continue, though. I will be sure to update and link the successful solution here when I find it. When testing this recipe with sourdough, keep in mind that this bread is sugary and fast.
0,5 liter liquid (milk, orange juice or water) 25g fresh yeast 1 teaspoon salt 0,5 dl dark syrup 50g melted butter 1 dl malted rye flour 1,5 dl rye flour 7,5-10 dl wheat flour (Optional spices: 0,5-1 tsp aniseed, crushed fennel seed or bitter orange peel powder, ginger, soaked raisins) Syrup wash is 0,5dl water + 0,5dl dark syrup
0,5 liter liquid (milk, orange juice or water)
25g fresh yeast
1 teaspoon salt
0,5 dl dark syrup
50g melted butter
1 dl malted rye flour
1,5 dl rye flour
7,5-10 dl wheat flour
(Optional spices: 0,5-1 tsp aniseed, crushed fennel seed or bitter orange peel powder, ginger, soaked raisins)
Syrup wash is 0,5dl water + 0,5dl dark syrup
Last Christmas we were overseas and I missed most of the traditional Christmas food. This year, however, I’m baking and cooking everything for our Christmas Eve at the countryside cottage, malted rye bread included.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and make it your own!