Whenever my siblings and I visited our mother’s parents, we’d hope for the heavenly scent of freshly baked russinbröd. A slice or two spread with butter turned into the an irresistible treat. This bread is more commonly known as filmjölksbröd or filmjölkslimpa — Swedish sour milk bread.
Consider it the sweeter, Swedish version of soda bread.
Before the electrical stove, baking would mean setting up a fire, heating the oven to the right temperature, and then keeping it at the right temperature. No wonder it was convenient to bake in large batches, right?
Then the modern, electrical ovens changed everything in the first half of the 20th century. Yeasted breads tend to stay fresh longer than those with bicarbonate of soda or baking powder. But, when it is that easy to get the right temperature, then why not make a simple, quick bread every now and then?
Stora kokboken features a similar recipe in 1946. Here, the authors suggest that you can use water, small beer, milk (sweet or sour), or buttermilk. The recipe features baking powder instead of bicarbonate of soda. It includes neither raisins nor sunflower seeds (but these are quite optional), and instead features ground bitter orange peel.
How to make Swedish sour milk bread — filmjölksbröd
You can change the proportions and the types of flour you use depending on what you have at home, but keep the proportions the same.
2 1/2 dl (1 cup) wheat flour
2 1/2 dl (1 cup) heavier flour(s) — I tend to use half graham flour and half rye flour
2 dl (4/5 cups) rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds (or fennel seeds or anise seeds)
4 1/2 (1 4/5 cup) sour milk – filmjölk
3/4 dl (1/3 cup) golden syrup (you can use ljus sirap, mörk sirap, or even honey)
1 dl (2/5 cup) raisins (or chopped dried apricots or other fruit)
1 dl (2/5 cup) sunflower seeds (or other nuts)
Optional: extra rolled oats or sunflower seeds for decoration
- Set the oven to 175°C (345°F). Prepare a loaf pan that is about 1 1/2 liters or 6 cups. I tend to simply line it with a baking sheet, but you can grease it if you prefer.
- In a bowl, add the wheat flour, heavier flour, rolled oats, bicarbonate of soda, and salt. Ground the caraway seeds roughly with a pestle and mortar and add them to the bowl. Stir it so it is blended.
- Add the sour milk, golden syrup, raisins, and sunflower seeds. Stir it all until you have a uniform paste. Add it to the loaf pan and even it out with a spatula. If you want, scatter a couple of tablespoons of rolled oats or sunflower seeds on top of the bread.
- Bake the loaf for 50-60 minutes. You want the top to have color. The bread should let go of the sides of the pan and be dry (though a few crumbs are fine) if you poke it with a toothpick. If the surface is done but the inside isn’t, cover it in foil and bake it a while longer.
- Let the bread cool (if you can!) before you slice it and tuck in.
If you can’t find a sour milk — filmjölk — you can make the same bread with yoghurt or something similar. However, if you’re not using an acidic base, swap the bicarbonate of soda for 3 tsp baking powder.