Scandinavian Braided Bread with Cardamom
- 6 1/2 cups (780g) all-purpose flour or bread flour*
- 3 tablespoons (27g) instant yeast
- 1/4 cup (60g) lukewarm water
- 1 1/4 cups (300g) milk or water, about 70°F
- 2 large eggs (room temperature)
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup (132g) Imperial Sugar Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
- 1 tablespoon (18g) salt
- 11 tablespoons (154g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon (7g) cardamom
- 1 egg for brushing loaves
- Swedish pearl sugar, as needed
- *Spoon & Sweep method: Use a spoon to fill measuring cup with flour until required amount is obtained. Scooping measuring cup directly into flour bag will firmly pack flour resulting in too much flour required for recipe.
- Sift flour and set aside. If eggs are still cold place them in a bowl filled with warm water for 5 minutes.
- Combine yeast and lukewarm water. Place 70°F milk, eggs, and yolks in a bowl large enough to hold all ingredients. Mix to combine. Add vanilla extract and sugar. Add flour followed by salt, melted butter, yeast, and cardamom.
- Using a dough hook or your hands mix dough until elastic and smooth, about 5-7 minutes on medium speed. Dough will become less sticky as it is kneaded. Dough should be mixed to 78-80°F. Do not exceed 82°F as it will make dough become tacky and result in poor baked texture.
- Place dough in bowl, cover with plastic food wrap, and place in a warm place until dough is doubled in volume, this will take nearly an hour.
- Remove dough from bowl. This will make dough collapse which is normal and required. Cut dough into 6 equal pieces and shape each into a ball.
- Roll each round into a 20-inch-long tube.
- Braid 3 tubes into a simple 3 braid (as braiding hair).
- Place on a parchment-lined or well-buttered cookie sheet and cover with plastic food wrap.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F.
- When loaves have gained about 60% (not doubled) in volume brush loaves carefully with a well-beaten egg.
- Sprinkle with pearl sugar and place in oven.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until an inserted thermometer registers 190°F. If loaf is getting too dark place a buttered sheet of aluminum foil on bread during baking.
NOTE: Select flour with 4 grams/protein on nutrition facts label. Do not attempt to prepare this bread using all-purpose flour with 3 grams/protein content on the nutrition label. Lower protein flour does not have the capability to make an elastic dough which is crucial for success.