Yes, it’s possible that your grandmother’s recipe for Swedish limpa is different from this one.
There are grandmas who made it with beer, those who never used orange rind, those who skipped caraway in favor of cardamom, or who gave it their own secret tweak.
They are all excellent recipes, OK?
But here is ours, derived from several versions.
Limpa, by definition, is the Swedish word for loaf. It’s most often described as a rye bread made with molasses and brown sugar, so it’s slightly sweeter than the staid and sturdy loaves often associated with rye.
But limpa, at least in America, often is an orange-tinged, spice-scented loaf. It makes great toast, but an even better foundation for those open-faced Scandinavian sandwiches called smørrebrød.
These sandwiches are edible works of art, a thin slice of limpa ready to receive soft folds of smoked salmon, hard-cooked eggs, fronds of dill, rare roast beef, radishes, pickled onions, roasted beets, pickled shrimp or whatever strikes your fancy, in a combination that stokes your appetite.
On a hot summer evening, cold beverage at the ready, limpa is the first step to a perfect supper.
The bread itself isn’t difficult. Rye flour has a reputation for making a sticky dough, but a proportion of bread flour makes it easier to knead.
We like a combo of caraway, anise and fennel seeds, but if you’re among those who regard caraway as the devil’s spawn, you can leave it out. Grind the seeds in a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder. (Just make sure to wipe out the coffee grinder before the next morning’s beans.)
Orange zest is simply a joy to bake with, infusing the kitchen with citrus aromas. We’ve also added some juice to the egg yolk glaze.
Maybe your grandma did that, too. Or maybe she rubbed the baked loaves with the paper from the stick of butter, or she let the limpa be. That’s the beauty of an ethnic recipe: It’s the result of many hands over the years — now, yours among them.