Swedish inspiration Discover the treasures of Sweden - no matter if you are in Sweden or in Hong Kong

Syrup loaf (recipe)

Sirapslimpa

sirapslimpa (syrup loaf) is a sweetish, often lightly spiced, rye and wheat loaf with a dark, slightly chewy, crust. It is a loaf that lots of older Swedes remember with great affection from their younger days because many recall getting home from school and enjoying a slice of buttered sirapslimpa with some cheese, or perhaps some Kalles kaviar, and a glass of milk. Others have nostalgic memories of taking prickigkorvmackor (salami sandwiches) made with sirapslimpa on skolutflykter (school trips).

Most will be thinking of a Skogaholmslimpa, Sweden’s most famous sirapslimpa brand. Skogaholm is a bakery, established in 1926 in the town of Eskilstuna, about 60 miles (100 km) west of Stockholm. The company was so successful that, in 1945, they became the first bakery to distribute bread across the whole of Sweden. By the 1960s their bread was established as a firm favourite with most Swedish households.

Today, because of competition from a much wider variety of breads and a rise in the number of artisan bakeries, Skogaholmslimpa is not quite so popular, but it is still sold in most Swedish supermarkets and it remains the bread that most Swedes have in their minds when they think of a sirapslimpa. Indeed for some it will forever be the only proper Swedish limpa.

Most will be thinking of a Skogaholmslimpa, Sweden’s most famous sirapslimpa brand. Skogaholm is a bakery, established in 1926 in the town of Eskilstuna, about 60 miles (100 km) west of Stockholm. The company was so successful that, in 1945, they became the first bakery to distribute bread across the whole of Sweden. By the 1960s their bread was established as a firm favourite with most Swedish households.

Today, because of competition from a much wider variety of breads and a rise in the number of artisan bakeries, Skogaholmslimpa is not quite so popular, but it is still sold in most Swedish supermarkets and it remains the bread that most Swedes have in their minds when they think of a sirapslimpa. Indeed for some it will forever be the only proper Swedish limpa.

Working with rye flour

Swedes use rye flour in bread a lot because, in the days before good transport links existed, it was essential to use flours that could be produced locally. In most parts of Sweden that meant using rye flour as wheat was too difficult to grow. Although that is no longer so important, Swedes still love rye because it has a distinctive, deep flavour and it retains more nutrients, including higher amounts of fibre, than wheat.

However, rye flour is not as easy to work with as wheat flour, so over the years Swedes have learnt various methods in order to get the most out of rye. One technique, in common use in Sweden, is to scald rye flour with boiling water, usually 8-12 hours before using it. This tends to softened the crumb, prolong the life of the bread and encourage the development of natural sugars.

Rye dough is very sticky and difficult to knead, so here there is a simple solution: don’t bother kneading it at all! Rye grains have naturally occurring yeast on them, which will multiply slowly when mixed with water, especially with the help of honey and syrup to feed off. By giving the dough a long rise time, about 8 hours, the dough’s gluten molecules will naturally align with each other without any kneading. (The same technique is used in no-knead sourdough breads.)

Why use dried yeast?

This recipe uses a small amount of baker’s yeast to supplement the naturally occurring yeasts. Although Swedes would normally use fresh yeast, I have suggested using fast action dried yeast simply because fresh yeast is too difficult to obtain in many countries. (If you want to use fresh yeast, simply crumble 3 grams of fresh yeast into the mixture during step 4.)

Sceptical?

If you are sceptical of scalding rye flour, using very little yeast and not kneading the dough, I urge you to set your scepticism on one side and give this recipe a try! It really does produce a Swedelicious sirapslimpaJohn Duxbury 

Summary

Tips

• If you can’t get Swedish mörk sirap, use golden syrup or any other syrup instead.
• Only lightly crush the fennel and aniseeds to release their delicious aroma because if they are finely ground their flavour will be too dominant.
• Bake with confidence! Don’t worry if the loaf is looking burnt, as the crust should be dark and chewy.

Ingredients

Variations

There are numerous recipes for sirapslimpor (syrup loaves) across Sweden. The most common variations compared with the recipe below are to:
• use milk, instead of water,
• omit the spices, although others use caraway seeds in addition to fennel and aniseeds,
• use more yeast and a shorter rise time,
• glaze the loaves with syrup, diluted 50:50 with water, or leave them unglazed.

Method

1. Add 55 grams of rye flour to a small bowl. Pour over 125 grams of boiling water and whisk with a fork until evenly mixed. Lightly cover with a cloth or a shower hat and leave at room temperature overnight.

2. Add the rye flour, strong white flour (bread flour), fennel seeds, aniseeds and fast action dried yeast to a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

3. Add the salt and mix again.

4. Add the water, mörk sirap, honey and the scalded rye flour. Mix with a large spoon (or use an electric stand-mixer if you prefer) for about 5 minutes until everything is thoroughly incorporated. Cover with a cloth or a shower cap and leave at room temperature for 8-10 hours until doubled in volume and there are small holes on the surface.

5. Dust your hands with flour and then scrape the dough out of the bowl on to a well-floured worksurface. Flatten it into a square about 20 x 20 cm (8″ x 8″). 

Syrup-bread-280-L7276

6. Line a baking tray with baking parchment and, with the aid of a dough scraper, roll the dough up into a sausage shape. Transfer it to the tray, seam side down. Cover with a cloth and leave to prove for 45-60 minutes.

7. Pre-heat your oven to 250°C (475°, gas 9, fan 220°C) at least 30 minutes before baking.

8. When ready, place the dough on a middle shelf and give the top of the oven a good spray of water. Bake for 5 minutes.

9. Reduce the temperature to 210°C (410°F, gas 7, fan 190°C) and bake for a further 10 minutes.

10. Open the oven door to let the steam out and then bake for another 25 minutes, 40 minutes in total, until the loaf is quite dark and the inner temperature is 98°C (208°F).

11. Melt the butter in a microwave and use it to brush the top. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

This recipe is offered through our collaboration with SwedishFood.com.
SwedishFood.com is run by a not-for-profit company set up to help English speakers around the world who would like to learn more about Swedish food. Please visit their website for your inspiration on Swedish cooking and recipes.

For more recipes on Sweden Culture click here