Swedish Braided Cardamom Bread
I just love the smell of cardamom when I bake! It brings back memories of trips to Sweden and spending time with family. I decided to bake a Swedish style braided cardamom bread today because we're just a couple days away from Christmas and even though we don't traditionally bake this around Christmastime, it does bring the family together as we celebrate new and old traditions.
For this recipe, you will need 2 cups whole milk, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 4 1/2 teaspoons or 2 packets active dry yeast, 6 cups all-purpose flour (divided), 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, 2 large eggs (divided), 1 tablespoon of whole milk and 2 tablespoons of Swedish pearl sugar.
So light up your Swedish advent candles and let's begin!
In a small saucepan, combine the milk and sugar, whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Add the butter and heat over medium low, stirring gently, until the butter is melted. Remove from heat.
2. Allow the milk mixture cool to the temperature of a warm bath, making sure it's not too hot, then add your yeast. Let the mixture sit for 5 - 10 minutes to let the yeast activate. Bubbles will form on the surface. Don't be alarmed if it's not super foamy!
3. In an electric mixing bowl with a dough hook attachment or in a large bowl with a wooden spoon, add the milk mixture. Then add 2 cups of flour and the salt, cardamom and 1 of the eggs. Mix until combined.
4. Add 3 more cups of the flour and stir until it is completely mixed in. Add the remaining 1 cup of flour a little at a time until the dough forms a ball and is no longer very sticky when lightly touched with your finger.
5. Transfer the dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm spot until doubled in size for about 1 hour.
6. Once the dough has risen, knead it on a floured surface for 1 minute. Then let it rest for 10 minutes.
7. Divide the dough into six equal parts. Roll each portion into a skinny rope about 15 inches long. Line up three of the ropes and pinch the top of three of them together (like pictured below on the left), then gently braid the three ropes into a loaf and tuck the end under on both sides. Do the same with the other three ropes to make a second loaf.
8. Place both loaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with a tea towel and let it rise for 30 minutes.
9. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
10. Make an egg wash by combining the other egg with 1 tablespoon of milk. Whisk together in a small bowl or cup. Then rush the top and sides of both braided loaves with the egg wash and sprinkle each loaf with a few pinches of pearl sugar.
11.Bake the loaves until browned on top, about 20 - 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool before slicing.