OK, another No-Knead variety of bread we have been enjoying lately. Yes, this comes on the heels of the No-Knead Holiday Pumpkin Bread, but 'tis the season. Limpa is appropriate for the holidays when it's spiced with anise, cardamom, and orange zest and sweetened with honey.This is not a dark and hearty limpa made with molasses and/or beer. It's a delicious, lighter version perfect with coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon, or cocoa before bed. It's also a good way to introduce yourself to rye flour.This is the recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François. The only change I made was to omit the cornstarch wash and the sugar from the additional spices you sprinkle on the top of the loaf prior to baking.
3 cups lukewarm water
1-1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (1-1/2 packets)
1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon ground anise seed
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons orange zest
1 cup rye flour
5-1/2 cups unbleached bread flour (recipe from book calls for all-purpose flour)
Optional cornstarch wash:
For each loaf combine 1/4 teaspoon ground anise seed, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, plus 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar. Directions at the end of the post.
Add yeast, salt, honey, spices, orange zest with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or lidded (not airtight) container.
Mix in remaining dry ingredients using a spoon, food processor with dough attachment or a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. I find a rubber spatula is perfect. Remember, it's going to be wet and sticky but that's perfect.Cover; let rest until dough rises and collapses back on itself, about 2 hours. The dough can be used at this point, but will be pretty hard to handle. This dough mixture can be stored for a week in the refrigerator and that's just what I did. Loaf #1 was the test loaf and we devoured it. Loaves 2, 3, and 4 were gifts for the holiday. I wrapped each in brown paper to give an old-fashioned package look to it. Pretty Martha of me, I know.
When you are ready to make some bread, dust the top of the dough mix with a little flour to help the knife avoid sticking. Flour your hands too. Grab a grapefruit-sized blob of dough and cut from the mix with a serrated knife.
Quickly shape the blob into a loaf by stretching the surface of dough around the bottom on all four sides. Dust with more flour if needed. Let the dough rest on a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal for 40 minutes. You can cover with a dry, floured towel if you like.
Twenty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place an empty shallow pan on the floor of the oven. Even a bread loaf pan will work but you might not get all three racks back in the oven. I only bake one loaf at a time so I use the loaf pan and bake the bread on the rack in the middle.
At this point you can paint the bread with the cornstarch then sprinkle the bread with the additional anise, cardamom and sugar. I did not use the cornstarch wash and I did not use the sugar. I find the bread plenty sweet and I didn't even want to bother with a wash, just gave the whole thing a nice dusting of ground spices. This is also when you score the bread with a razor or very sharp knife. Score, gently, slash marks or a cross (keep the cross small because they really expand), etc.To bake - pour 1 cup hot water into the shallow pan to create a burst of steam. please be careful! Then right away slide in the cookie tray holding your very first loaf of limpa. Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown and firm. You might have to turn the loaf half way. I always have to do this because our oven is hotter in the back. Not the hardest part - COOL COMPLETELY BEFORE SLICING.Cornstarch Wash:
In a small microwavable container, blend 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch with a small amount of water to form a paste. Add 1/2 cup water and whisk to dissolve. Microwave until mixture appears glassy, 30 to 60 seconds on high power. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.