It is difficult to say when man started spicing breads, but it is known the Romans used poppy, fennel and cumin seeds, as well as parsley, in their oven-baked breads. These were possibly the first of what are called the savory breads.

When it comes to seeded rye, Swedish bakers take the prize with Limpa, a bread that contains whole caraway and fennel seeds as a topping. The mingled flavors of these distinctive seeds also are enhanced by grated orange peel and a small amount of dark brown sugar and molasses.

One of the most unusual savory breads is a split pea-stuffed loaf made in Trinidad. This bread is very similar to the puri made in India. The stuffing of split peas is seasoned with onion and garlic and flavored with curry powder, ground cumin seed and freshly ground black pepper. When cooked, portions of this mixture are placed in the center of dough circles, and the rims are pinched together to seal.

Another example of stuffed savory bread is the Chinese steamed bun, which is soft, puffy and fragrantly tasty. It can be served unstuffed, but, when it has a filling, it is called “bread with a heart.” There are several kinds of fillings. In char siu, chopped barbecued pork is flavored with soy sauce and sugar, and spiced with ginger, scallion, garlic and red pepper.

Pain de Provence is delicately flavored French bread that owes its special character to a mixture of Herbs de Provence (aromatics grown in the region). The mix contains equal amounts of thyme, savory and fennel, and twice the amount of basil. The final flavor touch is a liqueur; readily available Grand Marnier or orange-flavored Curacao may be used.

Flavor Secrets pilot recipes have originally been adapted exclusively for Prepared Foods by the test kitchen of the American Spice Trade Assoc. Visit and type “Flavor Secrets” into the keyword search field for more recipes.  (FR1192)

Limpa (Swedish Rye Bread

3.5 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
2.5 cups unsifted rye flour
2 cups warm water
2 packages active dry yeast
.25 cup butter or margarine, melted
.25 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsps grated orange peel
2 tbsps molasses
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsps caraway seeds, divided
2 tsps fennel seeds, divided
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp whole cumin seeds

On a sheet of waxed paper, combine flours; set aside. Pour warm water into a large mixing bowl; sprinkle in yeast; stir to dissolve. Add butter, brown sugar, orange peel, molasses, salt, ground cumin and 1 tsp each caraway seeds and fennel seeds. Add about 3 cups flour mixture; beat until well blended. Gradually beat in remaining flour to make a soft dough; turn out onto a floured board; knead until smooth and elastic, adding more all-purpose flour, as necessary, to prevent dough from sticking to the board. Place dough in an oiled bowl, turning dough to coat. Cover lightly with a clean towel. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 50 minutes. Punch down dough; divide in half; shape into two balls; let rest 10 minutes. Shape into two round loaves, each about 7in in diameter. Place dough on a large, ungreased cookie sheet; let rise in a warm draft-free place until doubled in size, about 50 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Using a sharp knife, make three cuts (1.5-inches deep) across loaves. In a small bowl, combine egg and milk; brush over breads. Sprinkle with whole cumin seeds and remaining caraway and fennel seeds. Bake until bread sounds hollow when tapped, about 30 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Yield: Two loaves (about 1 ¼-lbs each). pf