Sweden and other Scandinavian and Nordic countries have a notable bread culture. The bread culture is dominated by four main grains: rye, barley, wheat, and oats. Let’s dig into those Swedish bread types and see what’s what.
In Sweden, breadmaking was traditionally a male role and was held in high regard. Most breads were homemade. However, in modern Swedish society, bread production is industrialized and commercialized. Bread is mass-produced and sold in grocery stores and bakeries.
Overall, the consumption of bread has increased significantly since the 1990s. Most bread is made of wheat and whole grains. A wider variety of international types of bread such as ciabatta, naan, pita, bagels, and focaccia have become part of the Swedish bread culture.
Below is a look at the five most common Swedish bread types:
Lefse is originally a Norwegian flatbread. It is made of wheat flour and may include butter, cream, milk, and lard. Typically, it is cooked on a large, flat griddle. The bread is prepared with special tools—rolling pins with deep grooves are used to spread it out, while long wooden sticks are used to turn it.
It has become a major part of the Scandinavian bread culture, especially around Christmas. There are different variations of the lefse bread, some bigger and thicker while others smaller. The range of ingredients also varies.
The Swedish lefse is a little thicker than the tortilla. It is made like the Norwegian lefse with flour and potatoes. You can top it with other ingredients such as butter, sugar, jelly, buttermilk, or even meatballs for a savory taste.
To make it, start by boiling potatoes and then draining them. Put them in a large bowl and add cream, butter, and salt. Mix or blend until well-mixed and creamy. Add whole wheat flour, one spoon at a time, until the dough is well formed. Separate the dough into small ball sizes. Spread and flatten each at a time with a rolling pin.
Preheat a pan, oil it, and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Repeat for all dough balls. Serve immediately. If you want to store it, cover it snugly with plastic wrap or put it in an airtight container and refrigerate.
Swedish Limpa Bread
Limpa bread is the classic rye bread. Unlike most other Scandinavian rye breads that are dense and savory, the Swedish limpa bread is light with a fine crumb and sweet. There are different recipe variations, although most contain ingredients such as orange zest and spices such as caraway seeds, fennel seeds, sunflower seeds, or anise seeds.
Swedish limpa bread is generally easy to make. It incorporates both rye and regular wheat flour. Wheat flour has a high gluten protein content that gives the bread structure while making it light. On the other hand, rye flour adds a robust, earthy flavor to the bread.
Unlike most bread recipes that call for active dry yeast, the sweet limpa bread recipe requires that you use instant yeast. As such, you do not need to proof the dough before baking.
If you use buttermilk in your recipe, add baking soda to neutralize the acidity of the buttermilk. Use orange zest to bring out a citrusy flavor and molasses for sweetening. You can incorporate other spices to your liking.
Swedish Sweet Bread (Vetebrod)
The Vetebrod is a type of Swedish coffee bread or cake. It is a sweet, leavened bread that is typically spiced with cardamom but can also be spiced with cinnamon. One of its most outstanding features is that its top crust is braided. Traditionally, the bread is glazed at the top with almonds and pearl sugar, but you can use any other ingredients, per your preference.
The recipe uses common ingredients for a rich bread, including milk, active dried yeast or fresh yeast, wheat flour, salt, butter, brown sugar, eggs, and your preferred flavorings. Although there might be slight variations in the Swedish sweet bread recipes, it is an easy bread to make.
For instance, you can replace half a portion of milk with cold water or lemon juice with buttermilk. Bake like you would make other bread in an oven-safe greased bowl or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Cover with a plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for 45 minutes to 1 hour until it rises. Bake in an oven at 375°F until you achieve an internal temperature of 190°F. Let it cool down completely before serving. The only challenge you may encounter is braiding, especially if you have never done it before. However, you will quickly learn how to do it with a few videos.
Upplandskubb is a unique Swedish bread from the Uppland part of Sweden. This bread has a unique baking method that was awarded the protected designation of Origin by the European Union. It was mostly cooked around Christmas time.
It is baked in a cylindrical-shaped container with a lid in a warm water bath for a few hours. It is made using a combination of rye and wheat flour. The dough should be fermented in a warm place for three hours or more and then cooked for at least four hours.
Its color ranges from greyish to brownish. The interior is thick and juicy with small air holes and a crumbly texture. The rye flour gives it a unique flavor that is a bit sour with a burnt aroma.
When serving, it is cut vertically into four pieces and then halfway through its height. Typically, it is served as quarter circles with ice cream, butter, and red onion.
Tunnbrod is a type of Swedish flatbread that originates from Northern Sweden. There are many variants. Some are soft, while others are crispy. The dough comprises oat, barley, rye, and whole wheat flour. Most recipes require a leavening agent–you can use yeast or ammonium.
The Swedish tunnbrod is enjoyed in numerous ways. As a burrito with roasted herring and mashed potatoes. As a crepe or as a tortilla wrap for other foods. It is also a common street food whereby a soft Tunnbrod is rolled around a hot dog, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and shrimp salad.
Swedish Bread Types: SOLVED!
Swedish cuisine has a wide range of bread. While some are unique to the Swedish food culture, others are variations of Nordic and Scandinavian bread. Some, such as the Swedish Lefse, Swedish limpa bread, and Tunnbrod, are quite easy to make, while others, such as Upplandskubb, have an intricate preparation process and unique baking method.