November 28, 2010

Joululimppu - Finnish Christmas Bread


It is First Advent today and my partner and I are meeting his parents for a pre-Christmas lunch. Last year we spent the Christmas here in Sydney and I prepared a full-on Scandinavian feast for us to enjoy: Finnish Christmas casseroles, salads, home-made gravlax and joululimppu - the Finnish Christmas bread.

I also prepared a Christmas hamper with everything home-made; including tomato chutney, apricot marmalade, chocolate, truffels, date cake, etc. Yes, I went Christmas crazy! Obviously I have taken it easy this year seeing we are departing for our trip in a week's time. I couldn't help myself but make this bread again as it was a huge success (especially had with home-made gravlax!), and this morning my home smells like sweet Christmas :-)

This is a typical bread for Christmas in Finland. We call it joululimppu ('joulu' meaning Christmas and 'limppu' meaning a type of bread), it is sweet because of the dark syrup (treacle) and fragrant thanks to the spices like aniseed and fennel. The crust is sweetened with syrup-water and it is my favourite of the whole bread. Back in Finland I'd have to fight over the end pieces of the bread with mum, but here I can enjoy them all by myself :-)


Joululimppu - Finnish Christmas Bread

100ml treacle (dark syrup)
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp aniseed or 1/2 tsp carraway seeds
1 tsp dried (but not candied) orange peel, finely chopped*
600ml buttermilk or milk
about 300g organic rye flour
about 300g organic white, unbleached spelt flour or plain wheat flour
4 tsp dry active yeast
a good pinch of salt
100ml canola oil or melted butter

1 tbsp treacle, extra
100ml water

*in Finland I would use 'bitter orange peel' for this, but dried orange peel works well, too


In a small saucepan bring the syrup and the spices to boil. Remove from the heat. Pour the milk into a large bowl and add the warm syrup. Mix and check the temperature. You will need this to be hand-hot so place it in the microwave and heat for a minute or two to get it right. Be careful not to over heat though! Add the yeast and the salt into a small amount of flour and stir into the milk. Starting adding the flour kneading and mixing as you go. You may need more flour (or use less) depending on the type of flour you are using. Knead the dough until smooth and slightly elastic. Add the oil and knead it in as well. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to double in size.

Form the dough into two large breads (shape of a large ball), place on a large roasting tin lined with baking paper and leave to rise for 20-30 minutes. Prick the breads and bake in 200C for about 50-60 minutes. After 45 minutes brush the bread with the syrup and water mixture (mix the syrup into warm water) and continue to bake until the base of the breads seems cooked. Leave to cool on a wired rack and serve with butter or gravlax.

Enjoy!

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27 comments:

  1. That bread looks delicious - packed with flavor!

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  2. I love it when you share Finnish food Maria. I don't know much about so hopping on to your blog and learning more is great. Happy Joulu! (Did I say that correctly? ) :)

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  3. Looks like a very nice bread. It must be so aromatic

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  4. This sounds delicious, I'm not a big fan of commercial fruit breads but even though there's orange peel in this, making it at home means I can control the amount of fruit and sugar. Win win! Thanks for sharing this. :D

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  5. Yum, this looks great! It looks a lot of Swedish limpa (but with the addition of treacle). I'll have to bookmark this for next month when Christmas baking gets full swing.

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  6. Aww you must be so excited about your trip now!! This bread definately makes Christmas seem that little bit more special =)

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  7. wow this look amazing even tho i have no idea what it tastes like!! just looking at the ingredient i can imagine id love to have a few slices!! enjoy your holiday :)

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  8. What a festive & georgously looking appetizing Christmas bread!!

    Have a great trip & enjoy Christmas!

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  9. Aiii, I remember this bread so well from the year I lived in Finland but have never made it. Bookmarked!

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  10. It looks and sounds wonderful - the shape reminds me of biscotti and the texture of the French pain d'epice! Yummy

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  11. What a lovely Christmas treat!

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  12. I have never heard of this before, but it looks fantastic. I also didn't know it was First Advent yet (shows how far behind I am this year).

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  13. Love that dark rye colour and the lovely dark crust to match. Another dish of yours you can almost smell with your eyes :)

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  14. Oh! My best friend throughout primary school lived with her Finnish grandmother, who used to often send me home with cakes. Though her spice of choice was cardamom, not fennel and caraway. I adore the latter spices, though, so hopefully will be able to make this on the weekend :) It looks marvellous!

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  15. You are such a good little Finnish girl making all those goodies! If only I knew how to make it all for Panu :) I think I need to get you to cater for me next time when we're back in Sydney :)

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  16. If there's any holiday worth going crazy for, it's Christmas! This bread sounds delicious!

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  17. I'd so love to try this. I love all of the beautiful flavours. I can imagine biting into one of these with a cup of tea. It would be heaven!
    *kisses* HH

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  18. Maria, this bread looks delicious, love the orange peels in it...yummie!

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  19. What a nice looking bread. Very dense?

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  20. Oooh this looks wonderful! I bet you're excited about your Christmas trip too! :D

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  21. Nope, I wouldn't have any problem 'finnish'-ing that off! Get it?

    I know, I'm sorry. Worst pun ever.

    But the bread does look great!

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  22. Ohhh I'm excited I have found the perfect bread recipe to make one of my best friends who is Swedish. She makes a fantastic Gravlax and this bread will be perfect with it.

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  23. Looks delicious and sounds amazing - all spicy and sweetish. What a lovely tradition to have for Xmas!

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  24. This looks amazing, and very similar to something we have in Norway! Only we add raisins and a particular kind of beer! Check out my post about it :)
    http://iheartcakes.wordpress.com/2009/12/19/vørterbrød-wort-bread/

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  25. This looks so delicious. I am always on the look out for new homemade bread recipes! Maybe I'll try to make gravalax over the break this year too!

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  26. I had to write and tell you of my leipa baking yesterday.
    I let the second rise go on a little too long and was worried about that.
    I thought the longer rise might have caused air pockets,
    but luckily it did not. I forgot I needed orange peel, so at the last moment
    I took some fresh from an orange and quickly dried it in the microwave.
    OMGoodness the bread from your recipe turned out fantastic!

    My Mom is now in a nursing home. I figured that if *I* didn't start making
    it, Christmases would no longer have joululimppu. Between you, me, and
    the lamppost, I'd say YOUR recipe is better than my Aiti's! Kiitos paljon!

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