I’m leaving you with this beautiful braided Swedish Braided Cardamom Bread from Scandinavian Gatherings.
This beautiful holiday Swedish bread is laced with fragrant cardamom and topped with crunchy pearl sugar (here’s a link if you want to make your own!). A lot of Scadinavian countries actually make lots of desserts with cardamom.
When I was in Copenhagen a few years ago, a woman, who was an ardent baker, told me that people in Scandinavia used A LOT of spices because years ago it was indicative of how much money you had. The more spices you used, the more money you had. Spices came from far away places and it signified that you could afford such spices. Interesting fun fact, eh?
That’s why you’ll find cardamom cookies and cardamom breads with a really liberal amount of spice added to them. And I’m absolutely down.
How this Dough is Made
This dough is an enriched dough. It’s very soft and supple. An enriched dough is a word to describe a dough that has a large amount of milk, sugar and eggs compared to a “lean dough” such as, say, pizza dough.
How to Braid the Dough
Braided dough seems a lot harder than it looks. It’s truly not that difficult. You divide the dough into six (because we have two loves). And then you braid those strands into three. It’s a wonderfully soft dough that is super easy to handle.
After it rises, you brush it with egg wash and sprinkle on pearl sugar. And then it gets baked. When it comes out the entire house will smell fragrant and delicious!
I made it on a day when I was doing a million things. But when it was done baking, I sat down, watched Real Housewives and ate a piece of this Swedish Braided Cardamom Bread while sipping some warm tea. Just like Scandinavians intended!
Swedish Braided Cardamom Bread
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 packets active dry yeast or instant yeast
- 6 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon table salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 2 large eggs, divided
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- 2 tablespoons Swedish pearl sugar
- 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 the heat.
- Allow the milk mixture to cool to the temperature of a warm bath (not hot!), and stir in the yeast. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes to make sure the yeast is active and alive. You should see bubbles on the surface (don't be alarmed if it's not super foamy), and the mixture should grow in volume.
- When you are certain the yeast is working, in a large bowl with a wooden spoon or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add the milk mixture. Add 2 cups of the flour, and the salt, cardamom, and 1 of the egg. Mix until combined.
- Add 3 more cups of the flour and stir until it is completely incorporated. Add the remaining 1 cup of flour a little at a time until the dough forms a ball and is no longer super sticky when lightly touched with your finger. You might not use the entire cup of flour.
- 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, about 1 hour.
- Punch down the dough, knead by and for 1 to 2 minutes on a well-floured surface, and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Divide the dough into six equal portions. Roll each portion into a skinny rope about 15 inches long. Line up three dough ropes side by side on the counter in front of you. Pinch one end of the rope together, then gently braid the three ropes into a loaf. When you reach the end, pinch the remaining dough together and tuck it under the loaf slightly. Repeat with the other three dough ropes to make a second loaf.
- Place each loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and let it rise for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- To make an egg wash, in a small bowl, whisk the remaining 1 egg and the milk together. Brush the top and sides of both braided loaves with the egg wash, then sprinkle each loaf with 1 tablespoon pearl sugar.
- Bake the loaves until browned on top, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool before slicing.
In the mood for another enriched dough recipe: Funfetti Brioche right over here!