A sweet, dark loaf, Vortlimpor (vohrt-lehm-poor) made from a traditional Swedish recipe. The bread is served at lunch on the day before Christmas, and softened unsalted butter is often piped on top in a decorative pattern.

Vortlimpor is particularly delicious served with butter and cheese or honey.

3 LOAVES | oz. fresh yeast

2 teaspoon soft brown sugar

2 tablespoons lukewarm water

24 fl. oz. stout or dark brown ale

2 oz. plus

1 tablespoon butter or vegetable fat

12 oz. flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ lb. rye flour

8 fl. oz. dark treacle or molasses grated rind of

4 oranges

2 tablespoons aniseeds, crushed


1 tablespoon dark treacle or molasses mixed with

3 tablespoons hot water

Crumble the yeast into a small bowl and mash in the sugar with a fork. Add the water and cream the yeast and water together. Set the bowl aside in a warm, draught-free place for 15 to 20 minutes or until the yeast mixture has risen and is puffed up and frothy.

Vortlimpor is a Swedish Christmas bread traditionally decorated with piped unsalted butter.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized saucepan, warm the stout or ale over low heat. Add 2 ounces of the butter or fat and heat the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes or until it is just lukewarm and the butter or fat has melted. Remove the pan from the heat.

Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir in the rye flour. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast and stout or ale mixtures, the treacle or molasses, the orange rind and aniseeds. Using your fingers or a spatula, gradually draw the flours into the liquid. Continue mixing until all the flour is incorporated and the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured board or marble slab and knead it for 5 minutes, reflouring the surface if the dough becomes sticky. The dough should be elastic and smooth.

Rinse, thoroughly dry and lightly grease the large mixing bowl. Form the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl.

Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and set it aside in a warm, draught-free place for 14 to 2 hours or until the dough has risen and almost doubled in bulk.

Lightly grease three baking sheets with the remaining tablespoon of butter or fat. Set aside.

Turn the risen dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead it for 10 minutes. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and shape each piece into a long loaf, slightly shorter than the baking sheets. Transfer the loaves to the baking sheets and cover them with clean cloths. Return them to a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the loaves have risen and expanded across the sheets.

Preheat the oven to very cool 250’F (Gas Mark 1/2, 130°C).

Uncover the loaves and prick them all over with a fork. Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the loaves from the oven and brush them with the treacle or molasses and water glaze. Return the loaves to the oven and bake for a further 20 minutes.

After removing the bread from the oven, tip the loaves off the baking sheets and rap the undersides with your knuckles. If the bread sounds hollow, like a drum, it is cooked. If it does not sound hollow, return the loaves to the oven and bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes.

Cool the loaves on a wire rack.

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