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Swedish Rye Bread (Limpa)

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Swedish Rye Bread is tender, slightly sweet with brown sugar and molasses, and flavored with anise, caraway, and fennel.

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Swedish Rye Bread, or Limpa, is the most treasured bread of my Swedish family members. This was a staple in my grandmother’s kitchen and her mother’s before her. Aunts, uncles, and cousins all long for my mother’s signature bread. One of my favorite summer food memories was eating freshly baked Swedish Rye Bread at my grandparents’ kitchen in Upper Michigan, slathered with fresh raspberry jam. Everything about this bread is wonderful–the soft texture, the delicate sweetness, and the savory spices. Limpa was traditionally a Christmas bread, but my ancestors embraced it all year long, and for good reason!

The Ingredients for Swedish Rye Bread:

Limpa is a slightly sweet yeasted bread, enriched with molasses, brown and white sugars. These components, along with the distinctive flavor of caraway, anise, and fennel point to the holiday feel of the bread. Canola oil serves as the fat, although melted butter could be used in its place. A combination of rye and bread flour makes for a nice tender, yet stretchy structure to the bread.

The Process:

This is an easy bread to do in a stand mixer, although traditionally it was done by hand. Proof the yeast in water with a bit of sugar just to activate it. Add all other ingredients, with some of the flour kept in reserve. This helps prevent adding too much flour, based upon what the climate is like when you are making the bread. Either mix and knead the dough with a dough hook in a stand mixer, or get a good workout with a wooden spoon! Once the dough is smooth and elastic, place in an oiled bowl, cover, and let proof for 1.5-2 hours until doubled.

Divide the dough into 3 equal amounts and form into balls.

Shape the loaves as desired (my mom makes the prettiest braided loaves!)

Cover these loaves with plastic or damp tea towels until double in bulk. Bake the loaves for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from the oven and rub the loaves all over with butter to create a beautiful sheen and soft crust.

The Swedish Rye Bread will have a fine, soft texture with a bit of chew from the whole spices.

Swedish Rye Bread is wonderful toasted with jam or used for sandwiches, like this Swedish Rye and Lingonberry Grilled Cheese

Swedish Rye Bread (Limpa)

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Swedish Rye Bread is tender, slightly sweet with brown sugar and molasses, and flavored with anise, caraway, and fennel.


  • 2 cups warm water
  • tablespoons dry yeast (2 packages)
  • cup molasses
  • cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seed
  • ½ teaspoon anise seed
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seed
  • 5 cups bread flour (can substitute all-purpose)
  • cups rye flour
  • Butter, for glazing loaves


  • Dissolve yeast in the warm water with a pinch of the granulated sugar in a stand mixer bowl or large mixing bowl. Let sit until foamy (about 10 minutes).
  • Add all remaining ingredients except 2 cups of the bread flour.
  • Mix at low speed with a dough hook or by hand until dough comes together. Knead with the mixer until a smooth dough forms, or vigorously by hand, adding the remaining flour ½ cup at a time.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead briefly by hand until smooth and supple. Form dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl (I use the same mixer bowl). Cover with plastic and a damp tea towel and let rise in a warm spot for 1½ – 2 hours until doubled in bulk.
  • Punch the dough down with your fist to push out air and divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Form each piece into a smooth ball and let rest, covered, for 10 minutes.
  • Shape the dough into loaves by either braiding or flattening the dough and rolling into a loaf shape. Place loaves in 3 oiled 9 x 5-inch bread pans. Cover and let rise until double. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  • Bake the loaves for 35-40 minutes until nicely browned and firm. Remove from oven. Immediately rub the tops of the loaves with butter to create a nice sheen. Cool loaves in pan on rack for about 15 minutes, then gently remove from pan and cool completely.
  • Slice and serve as desired or wrap in plastic and foil and freeze until ready to use.


  • Swedish Rye Bread is wonderful toasted and spread with butter or jam, or is a perfect sandwich bread
  • Use Swedish Rye Bread in Lingonberry Grilled Cheese
  • Try it in Rye Dressing with Juniper, Apples, and Prunes
Course: bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Fika, Snack
Cuisine: Scandinavian, Swedish
Keyword: Swedish Rye Bread Limpa
Servings: 3 loaves

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