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Malted Rye Bread Recipe | Baking Finnish Limppu

by Saara

This malted and spiced rye bread is called limppu in Finnish. It is a soft festive loaf with a sweet aroma, bold spices, and a glazing syrup wash on top. Typically we Finns enjoy this loaf during Christmas time and Easter but I also think it makes a great sandwich bread and they’re available in grocery stores all year round.

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 cuisine.

Limppu recipe includes crushed rye groats which you cook & soak in hot water. Crushed rye groats are coarse and dark malted bits. You need to take time to soak as well as cook them before baking. The second option is to bake with malted rye flour which is light brown and sand-like flour. For the loaves you see here, I used malted rye flour.

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What is malted rye flour?

The malted rye flour has a full taste giving the bread beautiful dark or golden color plus adding 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 the roasted 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 (not all malts though)
  • has a reputation of a natural dough conditioner

Where to find malted rye flour?

Since the majority of malts are used for beer brewing, I would check the malt product selection of your local brewing store. No luck there? I would scout the supermarkets with good specialty selections and potentially ask bakeries for their recommendation.

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 an online store yet. (Disclaimer: I’m am in no association with either the mentioned malt brand or the store.) If you have a Finnish friend coming over, ask them to bring a bag of the malted rye flour. This product is commonly found in Finnish supermarkets.

If you can’t find malted rye flour anywhere, I got good news for you!

If unable to find malted rye flour, you can substitute it with malted barley. You can also make some yourself but you need to be patient and plan ahead. Vanessa Kimbell has a step-by-step guide to homemade malted flour in her book The Sourdough School: The Ground-Breaking Guide to Making Gut-Friendly Bread*. If you like to get in-depth with your bread baking, making everything yourself from scratch is also possible.

About this recipe

Ready to bake malted rye bread? I have loved the malted rye flour from Laihian Mallas for years 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 at 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 an extra festive aroma, use some 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 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. When baking these, I was still battling with a small old oven here in the countryside which resulted a bit too din ark surface.

In the photos above, you see how the first set of syrup wash looks like. Wash both the top of the bread as well as the sides with the syrup. The surface should look wet when you transfer the loaves back into the oven. Sugar glazing is built during the second half of the baking, I usually washed 4-5 times.

Making limppu the with sourdough starter

What about using a sourdough starter? I’ve baked sourdough limppu twice but I was not perfectly happy with the crust which resulted in cracks. Limppu is supposed to be soft all the way and those past sourdough trials were too crispy despite the syrup wash. Back then I used a 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 dough is sugary and fast.

malted rye bread nordic baking

Malted Rye Bread | Limppu

This malted and spiced rye bread is called limppu in Finnish. It is a soft festive loaf with a sweet aroma, bold spices, and a glazing syrup wash on top. Typically… Bread homemade bread, malted rye European Print This
Makes/Serves: 2 loaves
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat


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


  1. Dissolve yeast into lukewarm liquid and syrup. Add malted rye flour, rye flour and small portion of the wheat flour. Let the mix sit for 10 minutes. Then continue mixing the dough either by hand or in a mixer. Build the dough by adding more wheat up to 2/3 of the wheat total and then add melted butter, salt and spices. Keep on adding wheat flour and mixing until the dough feels elastic. You can either add the raisins either into the dough or fold them in when shaping.
  2. Let the dough rise under cover in a warm spot until doubled in size.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough for two equal loaves and shape them into boules. The loaves should be small enough in size so that you can simultaneously bake the loaves on the same baking tray. Let the boules rise on the baking tray covered with a kitchen towel for 30-60 minutes. Pre-heat oven 200 celcius (400°F)
  4. Just before baking, spike the loaves with a BBQ stick, fork or a drink stick. Bake the loaves in second lowest rack 190°C (374°F) for 20 minutes. Then give the loaves a syrup wash 4-5 times during the last half of the baking until the loaves are ready. Total baking time is usually 40-50 minutes.
  5. Let the loaves cool first a while and then cover them with kitchen towel (slow cooling softens the crust even more).

I hope you enjoy this recipe and make it your own!

More rye bread recipes? Click here

Love, Saara

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1 comment

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