Last year I wanted to mix it up with holiday baking, and came across a recipe for Swedish cardamom bread. With a few batches under my belt I have made some modifications to add just a touch more decadence. It’s an easy recipe and great for gift-giving.
Makes two large loaves.
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 packets or 2 tablespoons bread yeast
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tbsp. ground cardamom
2 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 tablespoon whole milk
2 tablespoons Swedish pearl sugar or granulated sugar
Stand mixer with dough hook
Large baking sheet
Parchment paper or non-stick silicone baking mat
Measure the flour (less half a cup), salt, yeast, and cardamom into a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Gently warm the milk, butter, and sugar in a sauce pan or microwave-safe container until the butter is just melted. Pour into the mixing bowl and use a spatula to begin incorporating the flour into the liquid. Then remove the spatula and turn the mixer on low for 1-2 minutes. Next, add the egg yolks and continue mixing for another 8 minutes so the gluten has time to form. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl once or twice to ensure there are no clumps of flour.
After 8 minutes of mixing, take a look and feel of the dough. If it’s very wet and sticky, add a little more flour, a couple of tablespoons at a time while the mixer is running, and look for the dough to begin to pull away from the side of the bowl. When this happens the dough is the right moisture level and ready to rise.
Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and lightly oil the bowl, then replace the dough and cover for at least one hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg whites and a tablespoon of milk to make an egg wash.
When the dough has risen, place it on a floured work surface and punch it down. Cut the dough into six equally sized pieces and roll each one out to form a log. On a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or baking mat, braid 3 strands together to form one loaf, then braid the other 3 strands of dough for the second loaf. Be sure to pinch the ends together so they don’t come apart during baking.
Preheat your oven to 375F. Brush the tops of each loaf with the egg wash, and then sprinkle on sugar. When the oven is preheated bake the bread for 20-25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread is 190F.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool 2-3 minutes before slicing. You can wrap the bread tightly in waxed paper or aluminum foil and store on the counter for 2-3 days. Cut off a slice and lightly toast it with butter for breakfast or a snack with coffee or tea.