Homemade Jellies and Jams and Swedish Limpa Bread

My first time making raspberry jam was a couple of years ago, with my friend, Simon.  That was a revelation about working in the kitchen.  Simon bustled and directed and had me stirring the jam in the pot until I thought I couldn’t stir any more.  In the end there was plenty of blackberry and raspberry jam to take home!

Although when I was a child I had watched grape jelly being made by my neighbor, Mrs. Anderson, I was not allowed to help. I was often found sitting on the little ladder in the corner of the kitchen while Beda baked, washed clothes by hand and hung them on the line, or cooked. I was her little shadow.  She gave me my first coffee – kids coffee with lots of milk and Swedish meatballs with potatoes and veggies. (To this day, that’s my favorite meal.) Mrs. Anderson and her husband Walter maintained a large garden with a grapevine, strawberries, various vegetables and flowers – beautiful irises. The garden was ideal with straight rows and beautiful colors. It was a time when the Swedish baker delivered bread to the house in a dark blue van. This is where I had my first tastes of many new foods.  One of these foods was Swedish Limpa Bread.  The baker delivered a brown bread whose aroma was sweet and savory.  I can see the shiny crust of this oval loaf of bread and am transported back into the sunny little kitchen. Mrs. Anderson gave me a slice and asked me if I wanted butter.  “No thank you.” I said simply. “Are you sure?” “Yes.”  Then I bit into this most sweet bread with so many tastes. The marvels of fresh baked bread remain as a cherished memory. (What is Limpa Bread?)

Limpa bread is a traditional Swedish rye bread which is flavored with molasses, anise, and orange peel. When well made, Limpa bread is moist and extremely flavorful with a rich, almost intoxicating odor. This bread is extremely popular in Sweden and in areas with a large Swedish population; if you happen to be fortunate enough to be living near Swedes, you can probably find a bakery which makes Limpa bread. This bread can also be made at home.

The bread also pairs well with naturally sweet spreads like cream cheese, jams, and preserves; if you make Limpa bread at home, you might want to try pairing it with your own sweet preserves for a simple and delicious treat.”*

Most people love jams and jelly. When you think of them you think berries and fruits.  Jellies and Jams are a sweet way to preserve the fruits of summer. A week ago Richard gifted me two jars of freshly made jelly – one jar jalapeño and one of basil jelly.  Richard loves hot pepper in his foods. (Me too!) The basil jelly goes well with cream cheese on Wasa crackers.  The fresh basil taste is preserved in the jelly. It’s still summer on my tongue when I eat it. The jalapeno jelly dances in my mouth. (It would be good on buttermilk biscuits!)

There are so many moving parts to the process of making jam or jelly.  The fun part is seeing the finished jars lined up and labeled.  Then tasting the product is the best.

I’ll make some Limpa bread to go with that jelly.

Here is a recipe for Limpa Bread. The recipe looks like the bread I ate.

http://batter-splattered.typepad.com/battersplattered/2009/04/swedish-limpa-bread.html

This looks like the bread I used to eat. Click the link for beautiful pictures of bread and nature.

Swedish Limpa Bread

From Heartland by Marcia Adams

Makes two loaves

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp caraway seeds

1 tsp crushed star anise seeds

1 ¾ c water

1/3 c dark molasses

¼ dark brown sugar

1 Tbsp salt

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

3 Tbsp grated orange rind

2 Envelopes active dry yeast

2 1/2 c medium rye flour

2 c all-purpose flour

¼ yellow cornmeal

DIRECTIONS

“In a small saucepan, combine the anise, caraway, and fennel seeds with the water and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes, then cool to lukewarm (if you’re impatient like I am, use a little less than 1 3/4 cups of water to begin with, then when your simmering time is over, add an ice cube to cool it off faster). Pour into a mixing bowl — there should be 1 1/2 cups of water.

Add the molasses, brown sugar, salt, oil, and orange rind. Stir together. Whisk in the yeast then add the rye flour and beat until smooth, using the beater paddle of your mixer or a wooden spoon. Gradually add the all-purpose flour and continue mixing until thoroughly blended. Allow dough to rest in bowl for 15 minutes. It will be very stiff. Knead 10 minutes (I didn’t have any luck using the dough hook on my mixer and ended up kneading it by hand).

Grease your hands with vegetable shortening and form dough into a smooth ball. Place in a large greased bowl and turn a couple of times. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Punch dough down and divide into 2 pieces. Form each into a round ball. Grease a 12 x 17 inch baking pan and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves in opposite corners and flatten slightly (they should be about 5 inches round). Cover with a dishtowel and allow to rise 45 minutes or so.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees for 20 minutes before baking time. Lightly slash an x across the top of each loaf. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until nice and crusty — the bottom should sound hard and hollow when tapped with your hand. Remove to a wire rack to cool.”

Notes: It was not clear to me if the seeds stay in the water. I removed most of them. I had to redo the water because it boiled off too much. Burner control is poor on my stove. Also, I don’t think it was necessary to put in less water and then add ice cubes.  That’s just like silly!  Use a little more than 1½ cups of water to get the required amount – avoid having to measure and re-measure and say bad words because there wasn’t enough water.  Since I am not a bread baker this is really highly experimental. The rye flour is too roughly milled. (Hmmmm. Is bread dough supposed to smell like beer? “Cause mine does. Not bad.)

Finally, it’s out of the oven. It made two small loaves. The bread tastes really good, if I do say so myself. I recommend using a less coarse ground flour if you want a less textured loaf. The texture doesn’t detract from the overall flavor.

Nice touch for a chilly night in November. Smell the homemade bread?

About kunstkitchen

Visual artist and writer hunting words, languages, visions, and insight in my kitchen - connecting Art (Kunst) and culture and slow food cooking. Credits: Do not own a microwave oven and never have. Do not own a food processor. Chopped veggies in a Zen monastery for a weekend. (Seriously) Classically trained artist. Paint and draw with traditional materials. Live in the Northland where it's six months of winter. Appreciate the little things in life. Sharing food and art experiences and the lessons that my talented and generous friends have given me.
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