Wednesday Baking | Cardamom Braids

Every Wednesday (ok, most Wednesdays!) I share a baking recipe. And lots of pictures of said baking recipe. I don’t call this Wednesday Baking because I bake solely on Wednesdays…no, my oven gets a workout much more frequently than once a week! Wednesday just happens to be the day I share baking recipes with you. All the past baking posts are archived in the Wednesday Baking category, which can also be found in a tab underneath my blog header.

This bread recipe comes compliments of my grandmother, who saw it in a magazine and sent it to me. She’s from Norway, where cardamom is a favorite spice, so this recipe caught her eye.

Unfortunately, she lives in Illinois, which means that the odds of me being able to share a loaf with her are slim to none. Pictures will have to suffice. ;) Although if she comes to visit, I will be sure to bake a loaf or two.

This recipe produces a soft, relatively dense bread, much like cinnamon bread except without the cinnamon. So if you don’t like the peppery taste of cardamom, you could always just leave it out, and you’ll end up with a plain sweet bread.

We’ve sort of tried it that way, though not on purpose. The first time I made this bread, I used cardamom that was past its prime, so the bread really didn’t taste like cardamom at all. It was a good sweet bread, but there was barely even a hint of cardamom. So, this time I bought cardamom from an open bin so that I could buy only as much as I needed, and the bread I made with this fresh cardamom was much better.

I give a different variety of bread to my parents each month of the year, and last week, I brought one of these loaves to their house. Unfortunately, Joshua placed our heavy swim bag smack dab on top of the loaf, which made it very…dense. Ahem.

However, my parents still ate the entire loaf and even enjoyed it, so perhaps there’s no way to mess this bread up!

To start this dough, combine yeast, water, and a bit of sugar.

Then heat the milk, sugar, butter, and salt together to 115-120 F. Pour the milk mixture into a mixer bowl and add eggs, cardamom, and 3 cups of flour. Once that’s mixed together, add the yeast mixture.

The dough will be pretty runny at this point.

Add enough flour to make a soft dough, and turn the whole mess out onto a floured counter.

Knead the dough for 3-5 minutes, or until it’s smooth and elastic.

Place the dough back into the bowl, cover it with a wet tea towel, and let it rise for an hour. Punch it down, divide it into 6 pieces, and roll each piece into an 8 inch rope.

Braid 3 ropes together and repeat with the other 3 ropes.

You can place the braids, as-is, onto a greased baking sheet, or you can do like I do and place them into 4×8 loaf pans.

Cover the braids with a wet tea towel and let them rise until they’re doubled, about 30-45 minutes, depending on the temperature of your house.

Brush the loaves with a beaten egg and sprinkle them with a bit of white sugar.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the loaves are lightly browned. Because this dough is fairly dense, you’ll not want to err on the side of underbaking, or you’ll end up with doughy loaves.

If you choose to bake the braids on a baking sheet I imagine the baking time would need to be shortened. I haven’t tried that myself, though, so you’re on your own. I’d start with 20-25 minutes, and then just keep an eye on the loaves until they seem done.

Remove the dough from the pans/sheets and let it cool on wire racks.

Cardamom Braids-makes 2

Printable Cardamom Braids Recipe (my printable recipes now have a photo. Yay!)

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 1/2 cups flour
1 beaten egg for glaze

In a small bowl, combine yeast, warm water, and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Set aside.

Heat 1/2 cup sugar, milk, butter, and salt to 115 F. Pour into a mixing bowl and add beaten eggs, cardamom and 3 cups of flour. Mix well; add the yeast mixture. Mix until combined, then add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface; knead 3-5 minutes. Place in a bowl, cover with a wet tea towel, and let rise 1 hour.

Punch dough down; divide into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into an 8-inch rope. Braid 3 ropes together to form a loaf; repeat with remaining ropes. Place loaves into 2 greased 8×4 inch loaf pans. Cover with a wet tea towel; let rise 45 minutes, or until doubled.

Brush with a beaten egg and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 30 minutes, or until loaves are brown. Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.

Today’s 365 post: Normally, I like to get in close.

Comments

  1. Ellen says

    These look good, I am not sure if I have ever had cardamom
    or not. I also do not have much baking time with yeast. My friend and I did take a class that had a week of baking with it. I did purchase some to try my own hand with yeast, but have yet to get to it.
    Funny, my grandparents are from Norway, (my mom 1st generation us) They lived in ND, but now my gram lives here with us in jersey. She is the best baker!!
    I remember going to ND, and she had this lazy susan, filled with all kinds of baked goods! Usually you just have to say gram, how about chocolate chips, crap cakes. whatever…… and you would get them soon enough…..

  2. Molly says

    Mmmm…. cardamon. I frequently put it on my oatmeal in the morning. Your Wednesday baking posts always look so good. I’m definitely going to have to make one of your breads this Friday – my husband’s finally coming home after about 3 weeks gone!

  3. says

    These look scrumptious. And it’s perfect timing cause I’m almost out of bread! But I have the feeling I won’t be baking til much later today, as my little one is sick. Boo.

  4. says

    Cadamom question – where do you find it? I have come across at least a dozen recipes in the last few months that use cardamom, but I can’t ever seem to find it in my grocery stores. So, where did you find it?

    • Erika says

      Sharon, try seeing if you have any Indian grocers in your area. I needed some for a Chai recipe, but it was SO expensive in the supermarket (I think $14-$16 for the little jars!). I went to an Indian grocer and they sold bags of it for about $4, and there was probably about double in the bags than in the little jars at the supermarket.

    • WilliamB says

      There are two excellent online (and brick and mortar, if you’re lucky) purveyers of spices and mixes – Penzey’s and The Spice House. They have everything, the quality is excellent, the staff friendly and helpful and knowledgable; not particularly inexpensive.

      A warning: be sure to google “The Spice House” rather than just typing it into your browser’s address bar. The most obvious email address for The Spice House caters to a different set of needs.

      • Molly says

        And I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend The Spice House. The brick and mortar store smells fantastic, and when you leave, YOU smell fantastic.

  5. says

    I was so excited to see this recipe! I love all things cardamom, and my family is Scandinavian, so this bread is a staple for Sunday afternoon tea at my grandma’s house! Normally we just buy it from a bakery, but I’m going to have to try making it now!

  6. says

    I’m Danish and I’m so down with the Cardamom bread thing :) I cheat and make my dough in the breadmaker. I never thought about putting the braided bread in a loaf pan. I’m going to try that the next time I make it.

    Leftover cardamom tastes great if you sprinkle a bit over the beans in the brew basket of your coffee maker. A bit of a spendy treat, but a treat all the same!

  7. Kim says

    Cardamom is wonderful. I found a recipe for a Swedish cookie called Pepparkakor that has cardamom and orange peel in it and it is now our main Christmas cookie that we bake. They are wonderful. This bread looks great – have you ever tried it with a simple icing drizzled over the top?

  8. Molly says

    Ok, me again, lots of comments from me lately.. I did bake this yesterday, and it is fantastic. Delicious. Yum. Thank you for sharing!

  9. says

    I tried baking these braids free-form yesterday and they turned out great. 350 degrees for 25 minutes did the trick. One thing I discovered is that these braids have super-powered oven-rise – they expanded significantly up and out after I put them in the oven and the two loaves stuck together. I had to pull them apart and flip them in order to let the merged edges get browned. I would recommend placing the braids at least 4 inches apart on the baking tray to avoid this in the future.

  10. says

    Thanks for the recipe. I bookmarked it when you first posted it and am finally getting around to trying it today. Just from the way the dough tastes I can tell it is going to be awesome bread.

  11. Melanee says

    One thing that my grandma and mom would do is to add a hint of lemon with the cardamom. Lemon extract was usually all we had on hand. That bit of lemon brings out the sweeter side of the cardamom. They use a sweet bread with cardamom and lemon — and it become all fancy breads and doughnuts etc. It is a definite to make a doughnut really smell and taste like a doughnut!!

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