All About Home Baking: Nana’s Limpa Bread

Nana's Famous Limpa Bread. Photo: Heather Platt

Nana’s Famous Limpa Bread. Photo: Heather Platt

I received a package in the mail a few months ago. I recognized the handwriting immediately. It appeared that my Nana had been sorting through her apartment in Florida and decided to send me some of the treasures she’d dug up. Inside the package was a book, a very old book. The title read “All About Home Baking.” and it smelled like a basement…(a grandma’s basement). It was the most amazing treasure I’d ever seen. But when I carefully began flipping through it, noticing it’s copyright of1933, and such recipes as  “Economical Gold Cake,” the real treasure fell out. A folded piece of paper with the handwriting I could never mistake; all slanted capital letters, legible, but requires serious concentration to decipher.  It was my Nana’s Limpa Bread recipe in her very own writing.

When my Nana came to visit us when I was a kid, my brother and sister and I would stand around the kitchen watching her, eagerly waiting for the delicious bread to be ready. It smells amazing, looks amazing, tastes amazing, and until now, is something I only thought she could make. But the torch as been handed.  These are not easy shoes fill. My Nana is a real baker and cook. Along with being a  mother of four, she and my grandfather owned, ran and cooked for a restaurant, dairy bar and candy kitchen in rural Vermont.  Years later she worked at a Vermont specialty food shop known for  hams, smoked cheeses, and Vermont cheddar, called Harringtons. The apron I love to cook in now was her required uniform there. As happy as I was to receive this recipe in the mail, there was a problem. Certain directions were missing. I did some research, made a phone call and filled in the blanks. This recipe is my take on Limpa bread. But you can thank my Nana (who turned 91 this week) for how good it is. Happy Birthday Nana!



In Nana’s Apron

Nana's Famous Limpa Bread. Photo: Heather Platt

Nana’s Famous Limpa Bread. Photo: Heather Platt

Nana’s Limpa Bread

Yields 4 Loaves

  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour

Dissolve the 2 packages of dry yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm water.  Be sure the yeast you are using is fresh. In a 2-quart heavy sauce pan, bring to a boil brown sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, salt, molasses and water. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to let cool. In a  large bowl, combine yeast mixture with buttermilk and stir. Add molasses mixture once it has cooled completely . (Nana says to make sure to add the milk to the yeast before adding the molasses mixture so as not to risk cooking the yeast in the molasses.) Add the flour and combine to form the dough and knead until it is elastic. It will be very sticky so feel free to add generous amount of extra flour while kneading. Grease a large bowl with some of the remaining butter and place dough in the bowl. Flip the dough to coat with butter and let rise for 2- 2 1/2 hours or until it has doubled in size. Punch the dough in the center and remove from bowl. On a floured work surface, knead the dough again for about 5 minutes. Divide the dough into four pieces. Knead each piece into round loaves and place on a large greased baking sheet. Do not place them too close together because they will double in size. Cover with a cloth and let rise for 2-3 hours or until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place loaves on a rack in the top third of oven and bake for 40 minutes. When ready a toothpick inserted in to the center of the bread will come out clean. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

limpa dough

limpa 2


Filed under Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Heather Platt, Vegetarian

8 responses to “All About Home Baking: Nana’s Limpa Bread

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  3. Terry Palatino

    I can’t wait to try Nana’s Limpa Bread recipe. I will let you know how it turns out…thanks for sharing the recipe.



  4. Kyla

    I’m gonna make this today! It’s a rainy, cool day.. a perfect one for bread making! xoox


  5. Jenny

    Limpa bread! I cannot believe you got the original recipe! What a treasure. I fondly remember the smell wafting through the house as it baked, and then the torture of having to wait for it to cool enough after baking to cut it. Nana would sit in the kitchen with her hawk eyes, keeping guard over that bread, protecting it from us rapscallions!

    Happy 91st birthday, Nana!!


    • HP

      Oh yeah! I forgot about the hawk eyes. It was very liberating to bake it myself, knowing I could cut in to it whenever I wanted to! But Nana managed to rub off on me after all those years and I knew that for the best results, I should let it cool.


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