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This Swedish Braided Cardamom Bread recipe is a traditional holiday loaf that’s a delicious enriched dough that’s topped with pearl sugar. This puffy braided dough is perfect when paired with warm homemade hot chocolate or a gingerbread latte.
Spices in Scandinavian Baked Goods
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. (I obviously love spices; see my Chewy Chai Masala Snickerdoodles.)
How to Make Swedish Cardamom Braided Bread
- Warm and combine the milk, sugar, butter and yeast. This will make the yeast all foamy and perfect.
- Pour the wet mixture into the bowl of a stand-up mixer with the hook attachment.
- And then add some of the flour, salt, ground cardamom and egg.
- Next, add 1 more cup of flour and it’ll all come together.
- Transfer the dough to a well oiled bowl and let it rise for 1 hour. As a result, it’ll double in size.
- Punch down the dough and knead it for about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 6-equal pieces.
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.
Absolutely. Bake them the night before you want to serve them. I like to wrap them in plastic wrap and store them at room temperature. And then you can warm them up just before serving.
You don’t need to serve these warm but if you’d like to wrap them in foil and place them in a 200F oven. Keep them in there for 10 minutes until warm.
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Swedish Braided Cardamom Bread Recipe
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 packets active dry yeast or instant yeast
- 6 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher 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.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.