Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Scandinavian Cardamom Braid

 This is such a good, exotic bread, I'm not sure why I don't make it more often.  Cardamom is the second most expensive spice, after saffron and before vanilla bean. Happily it is also super strong, so you don't need much. The almonds toast on top while the bread bakes, and then a drizzle of buttery orange glaze... 

This is a holiday bread, and I usually only make it in December. It can be a real show-stopper at the office "goodies" table, or at a party. I usually have to cut the first slice myself, because no one wants to mess it up. I serve the glaze in a bowl on the side, for two reasons: 1. If there is any bread left over, it will keep better, and 2. Everyone gets to decide how much they want to drizzle on their serving.

 I just made it as a 6-strand braid, and it was beautiful that way also.



1 cup water
1 egg
2 Tbs butter
1 tsp salt
3 1/8 cup bread flour
2 1/2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp cardamom
1 1/2 tsp yeast


egg wash
slivered almonds


confectioner's sugar
dash orange extract or fresh orange zest and some juice
butter flavor or browned butter


  1. Knead together water, egg, butter, salt, flour, sugar, cardamom and yeast, using a bread machine or mixer for 7 min, then allow to rise until doubled.
  2. Place stone in oven, and preheat to 350 deg. 
  3. Divide dough into three equal strands, and start braiding from the center. Continue braid to both ends, then connect ends together to create a continuous wreath. Place on parchment.
  4. Spray top lightly with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled (45 min to an hour).
  5. Remove plastic and lightly brush the top of the wreath with egg wash (well-beaten egg, with a tablespoon of water mixed in). Sprinkle almond slivers over the top, as desired, letting them stick to the egg wash. Slide the bread-on-parchment onto the pizza stone. Bake about 20 min, until internal temperature is 195-205 deg, or until it is a prettly brown and smells done.
  6. Whisk about a cup of sugar with a few tablespoons of milk, to make a smooth glaze consistency. Add small amounts of the orange and butter flavorings, to taste. If using orange oil, try only a few drops at a time; it is very strong. Drizzle the glaze over the bread right before serving.

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