Today I thought I was going to blog about pickled carrots – I’ve been meaning to… but I stayed up really late last night and woke up really early. I couldn’t stop thinking about Z starting preschool (yay!! I mean boo… no really, YAY!)
For some reason new beginnings always make me think about bread. Maybe it’s the warmth they emit. Or the fact that it’s what you bring as a housewarming gift. I don’t know- but bread was on my mind. So I searched through too many recipes to get some inspiration and tried to match them to what I had in my pantry (as well as one that would do well with cardamom- my favorite late summer/early summer spice).
I came across several versions of Finnish sweet bread. They all looked amazing, most had the requisite cardamom, but they ALL seemed labor intensive. So my goal was too adapt the recipe to reduce labor without sacrificing taste.
The result equals lots of dead time (time when the bread is alone…rising and you are able to do something else) but the bread is divine!
This is what you need;
1 pkg yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/8 tea sugar
5 cups flour
1 tea cardamom
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tea salt
1 1/2 sticks cold butter cut into cubes
1 1/4 cup warm(ish) milk
First activate your yeast. Add yeast, warm water (I just ran the tap until almost hot) and 1/8 tea sugar. Give it a quick whisk and set aside for 10-15 minutes. Your yeast should be foamy. If not- you need to do this step over.
Next, in a fairly large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cardamom and salt. Mix with your hands and then add the cold butter. Have your child (or yourself, obviously) pinch the butter into the mixture until it looks grainy.
With a wooden spoon stir in milk, yeast and egg. A very sticky dough should be forming. Once all your flour mixture has become dough, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and keep the flour close to hand. Knead dough until it is no longer sticky and has become very elastic- 7-10 minutes.
I love raisins- I usually keep a couple boxes in my purse for me and Z when we’re in the car. The last time I was at the store I picked up yogurt covered raisins- which sound delightful but are kind of disgusting. I thought they would be perfect in this bread (as the yogurt would melt into the dough leaving behind a tasty glaze as well as the beautiful raisins!) I used 3 mini boxes, but you can omit if you don’t like raisins or use your favorite dried fruit.
Anyway, I patted my dough into a round and added my raisins- folding the dough over so I could knead the dough again thus distributing the raisins throughout the dough.
Next, spray a large non reactive (I used glass) bowl with cooking spray (I used Trader Joe’s coconut) and put the dough in the bowl, turning the dough to coat.Cover the bowl with plastic wrap AND a kitchen towel and put in a dark, sort of warm, non-drafty place (I put mine in a cabinet). Let sit for AT LEAST 2 1/2 hours (I left mine for 4 because I forgot about it). You want it to double in size.
Next, prepare a parchment lined baking sheet and set aside. Divide your dough in half and punch down. Divide each half in threes (your going to need to do this on a floury surface as dough is sticky) and form each ball into a thin rope. Braid ropes together and tuck ends under. Place on baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. You should have two loaves. Place in dark non-drafty place again for 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Give the top of the bread a coating of egg wash. Place in oven for 35 minutes. Bread should be brown on top and golden all around. Delicious!