Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cardamom Bread

The wonderful aroma of this Cardamom Bread as it bakes immediately transports me to a cozy Scandinavian kitchen. Add some brewing coffee to the mix and your house will smell unbelievable. I really wish I could bottle it up.

Cardamom is not a commonly used spice here in the United States but it is prevalent in Indian cooking and Scandinavian baking.

This Cardamom Bread is made with a lightly sweetened dough containing eggs, milk and butter and I find the texture of it reminiscent of Challah bread. And like Challah,  I braided the loaves but you could also bake them in standard loaf pans.

I also topped the loaves with a sprinkling of pretty Swedish Pearl Sugar. My friend Ann recently gave some to me and I've been looking for an opportunity to use it. Swedish Pearl Sugar can be found in specialty food stores and Ikea Swedish Markets.

This recipe makes two loaves and is so delicious. My family and I had a really hard time keeping ourselves from gobbling up an entire loaf still warm from the oven.

Cardamom Bread
(makes 2 loaves)

1 1/3 cups milk
2/3 cups sugar
4 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
3 eggs
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into small pieces
6 to 8 cups unbleached flour
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 egg yolk
Swedish pearl sugar (optional)

In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the milk with the sugar, cardamom and butter. Heat just until the butter is melted.

Pour the milk mixture into a large bowl and let it cool until it is still warm but not above 115-degrees.

Add the yeast and stir until dissolved. Add the three eggs and salt and mix well to combine. Add the flour, a cup at a time until a soft dough forms. Knead the dough for 5 to 7-minutes, adding additional flour as necessary.

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel. Let the dough rise for 60 to 90 minutes or until double in bulk. Punch the dough down and let it rise a second time until double in bulk.

Punch the dough down and divide it in half.
Divide the dough in half.

Divide each half into thirds and roll the pieces into even lengths that are 16 to 18-inches long.
Divide each half into thirds.

Roll the thirds into even sized lengths, 16 to 18-inches long.

Pinch three of the pieces together and braid into a loaf, also pinching the ends together. Place the loaf on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Place the braided loaf on a parchment lined sheetpan, cover and let rise for 20 to 30 minutes.

Repeat with the remaining three pieces and again place on a lined baking sheet. Cover the loaves with plastic wrap and let rise for 20 to 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.

In a small bowl combine the egg yolk with the cream. Brush the mixture on the top of each loaf. Sprinkle with Swedish Pearl Sugar if desired.
Mix together the egg yolk and cream.
Brush the egg mixture on top of the loaves and sprinkle with Swedish Pearl Sugar.

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.


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