Swedish Cardamom Bread has been a Christmas tradition in my family for generations. My grandmother always had plenty for us to have with a cup of coffee; yes coffee! Looking back, the coffee was mostly milk but at the time I felt so grown up to be having coffee and cardamom bread for Christmas morning!
I’ve given you two ways to do cardamom bread; one is quite simple and my daughter’s favorite. It is actually the way my grandmother usually served it; the bread is braided and when baked it is drizzles with a powdered sugar glaze. The other method is to fill rolled dough with cardamom, cinnamon and brown sugar; form it in a circle then snip and twist to form a wreath. This is my favorite way. It’s so beautiful and I love the filling!
For the Cardamom Bread:
· 1 cup whole milk
· 1/2 cup white sugar
· 1/2 cup butter
· 2-pkg quick rising yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water with a pinch of sugar (My Grandmother used the regular yeast but I prefer the rapid rise to save a bit of time)
· About 4 cups bread flour
· 1 large egg
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
For the Filling:
· 2 Tbsp melted butter
· 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
· 2 Tbsp white sugar
· 2 teaspoons cinnamon
· 1 teaspoon cardamom
· 1 cup golden raisins (optional)
· 2/3 cup chopped pecans (optional)
For the Egg glaze:
· 1 egg yolk
· 2 Tbsp cream
For the Glaze:
· 1 cup powdered sugar
· 1 Tbsp water
1 Heat milk on medium heat to scalding. (Do not boil) Stir in the butter and sugar until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour into a mixing bowl and cool to luke warm. Mix in egg and then yeast mixture.
2 Blend in salt and cardamom. Add 2 cups of the flour. Then gradually add more flour until a soft dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
3 Turn out onto a floured surface and knead dough for 7 to 10 minutes until smooth. I do this step in food processor with dough hook for 10 minutes. The dough should remain soft, so do not add too much flour.
4 Place the dough in an oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap. Let rise for about 45 minutes to an hour; the dough should have doubled in size.
At this point you can make simple braided bread. Punch down the dough, divide in half, and then divide each half into 3 equal parts. Roll the dough pieces into ropes, braid them, and tuck the ends under. This is the way my daughter Marina likes it best!
5 Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Take one part (saving the other for wreath number 2) and roll it into an 8-inch by 16-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with melted butter, leave an inch border on the edges so the dough will stick together when rolled. Mix the filling and spread the dough with half of the mixture ( the other half is for the second half of the dough).
6 Roll the dough up lengthwise, with the seam on the bottom. Transfer the bread to a baking sheet line with parchment paper. Form a circle with the dough and connect the ends together.
7 Cut on a slant most of the way through the dough, creating segments. Pull out each dough segment either to the right or to the left, alternating as you go around the circle. The dough should look like a wreath when you are done.
Repeat steps 5, 7, and 8 with the rest of the dough, to form a second wreath.
8 Cover lightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm area for about 40 minutes to an hour so the dough can have a second rising.
9 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk together the egg yolks and cream and brush over the dough. Bake for 25-30 minutes. After the first 15 minutes of baking, if the top is browned, tent with aluminum foil.
10 Remove from oven and let cool completely. Whisk together powdered sugar and water for the glaze Drizzle the glaze over the pastry.
Makes 2 wreaths.