We all have our fine qualities, don't we? When I make cardamom or saffron bread at Christmas time, I am often reminded of my fine qualities...the other ones, 'cuz perfectly braided loaves ain't one o' them. I have a beauty standard that I hold up to in this niche, braided bread made by Dana. She is a dear woman. I've never had a better tasting and better looking loaf of challah from anyone else since having the joy of tasting her bread. She turns out a loaf better looking than any professional I've come across, I wish I had a picture to share. I think I'm simply reminising what a good heart she has, like Christmas itself.
This is a basic egg-dairy-fat bread. Like challah or brioche, a sweet rich dough classification. You have some options here, lessen the sugar or spices, change out the butter for oil, change out the spice, use yolks for more yellow. Depending on where you live, this dough will vary in rise time. When I lived in the South, in less than an hour my dough would double, then I'd do a triple rise for more flavor. If it's dry and cool in your area or if you are just plain frugal and keep a cool house like me, double rise time could take a couple hours. I tend to stop at seven cups of flour, while it's still slightly tacky. I perfer a lighter dough. There isn't much humidity around the high desert, so seven works well for me. Again, when I lived in the South, I used much closer to eight.
Christmas Cardamom bread ~
A Swedish-Eskimo tradition
5 tsp. yeast
1/2 c. water - 105 degrees
A pinch of sugar
1 1/2 c. milk, whole or evaporated
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. freshly ground cardamom
1 T. vanilla
7 c. flour - you might need more
1/2 c. melted butter or oil
- Proof the yeast in the water and pinch of sugar. Let sit 5-10 minutes
- Warm the milk to room temp or slightly warmer.
- In a mixer or bowl, combine sugar, eggs, spices, vanilla. Add yeast mixture.
- If using oil, add now. If using oil, wait until after the next step.
- Add four cups flour and mix. Add butter at this point. Let this sit for 15 minutes.
- Add the rest of the flour, mix with dough hook or knead by hand. Put in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled.
- Divide dough into three portion. Divide each portion into three smaller portions and roll out each into a strand 20"-24" inches. Braid.
- Cover each braid with a cloth and let rise until double.
- Brush each with an egg wash, sprinkle with pearl sugar.
- Bake each strand 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees until golden and toothpick comes out clean.