Loaf 18: limppu from Finland

I’ve barely scratched the surface of Finnish bread-making in my research, and it already is clear that whole books could be written about about. And probably have been. In Finnish.

The main divide, as far as I can see, is between the east, which has been influenced by Russia, and the west, which has been more influenced by the rest of Scandinavia.

Traditional Western Finnish bread, reikäleipä, was baked to last over the winter in flat rounds, with a hole in the centre to hang the loaf from the ceiling. Some sources say it was baked once a year; they seem to agree that reikäleipä lasts a very long time.

Limppu, on the other hand, is from Eastern Finland and has more of the characteristics  you’d expect from a bread, such as being baked pretty frequently, not hanging from the ceiling.

Finnish bread history as a whole has a feeling of hardship to it that I haven’t encountered elsewhere yet. Read this for example. Bark bread appears to have been common at points in history, a famine food that involves mixing tree bark flour into rye flour to make it last longer. As I said, more research needed on all of the above.

Anyway, I made limppu from a recipe in here and it was fun. It’s 100% rye sourdough with three fermentation periods. On the final stage, you shape your quite soft dough into a cone.

limppu 1

The cone flattens out as the bread rises, and when the top is flat it’s ready to bake. Mine retained a wart-like bump on top, because I shaped that bit too enthusiastically.

limppu 2

The loaf turned out looking just like it ought to. Even the wart had more or less flattened out in the oven.

limppu 3

Unfortunately, I hated it. It was mouth-scouringly sour, almost bitter. I have no idea if this is the correct flavour, but it is too much for me and I’ve taken to eating it doused in honey. I wonder if the limppu would be better with some traditional Finnish accompaniments (buttermilk?).

I am still determined to give reikäleipä a try.


7 thoughts on “Loaf 18: limppu from Finland

  1. Your ruislimppu looks very good! It’s true that the taste is somewhat sour, which is how we like it here in Finland. In all fairness, though, many Finns don’t like it that much anymore… They are getting used to white breads and prefer a somewhat less sour version that includes some wheat, and maybe even potato flakes like for sweetness. Unfortunately. 🙂

    But you should definitely eat ruislimppu with a very generous amount of _real_ butter on it, and maybe some hard cheese. That neutralizes some of the bitterness. And a glass of milk goes very well with it too.

    • Hi Jarkko, thanks for your comment! I think it’s possible that I let it ferment for too long… Or that I just haven’t eaten enough rye to acquire a taste for something that strong. But I will try it with some hard cheese next time.

  2. It’s important to get the correct ingredients in making limpu. It should be sweet. Yes buttermilk is a missed ingredient but you also have to becareful not to over do the flour. It takes south caraway seed and fennel. That’s both not south. I grew up eating limpu as the town I gre up in was Finnish and it helps being Finnish. Limpu is traditionally made only at Christmas time. You also have to punch downthe center before cooking. Molasses is very important.

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