Monday, December 13, 2010

Swedish Cardamom Bread

I've heard of cardamom as a major spice used around Christmas time for Scandinavian baked goods.  And since I acquired Fancy White Cardamom pods this summer, I've been looking forward to making a good authentic Swedish Cardamom bread.  I found one online that was passed to a guy by his grandparents and I thought that sounded reasonable.  I tried it and somehow it reminds me of Christmas morning even though no on in my family cooks with cardamom or is Swedish.  But the cardamom and bread right out of the oven are warming, which is something all Christmas breakfasts aim to be.  And Christmas is the time of the sweet spices (probably because they are warming), which is also familiar even if the specific spice isn't.  Then again, cardamom is in apple pie spice and that comes up a lot.

So clearly it's a braided bread.  This isn't hard though.  Just separate the bread into 3 sections and make sure they are thin enough to work with, I think mine were about 1 inch diameter, then braid in the regular way, closing the ends together at the end.  Also note, I found it weird that there was only one rise for the bread, and it didn't rise much during it.  It did however puff up once it was in the oven.

I would however, recommend cutting back on the cardamom is you use pods and grind them yourself like I did.  It had a pretty intense flavor, which somewhat overpowered the bready goodness, which is something I greatly appreciate.  I also baked it for significantly longer than the recipe called for, I think around 32 minutes.

Also, since I'm in Atlanta and not, say Sweden, I had to add about half a cup of extra flour to be able to work with the dough.  Even in cold weather, there's a lot of moisture in the air.

Here's the recipe.  There is no point in me recopying it, the story and my adjustments are what count.  But my adjustments are not adjustments everyone should make, just people who grind their own cardamom and live in humid climates.  However, the baking extra time is recommended, most likely.  Also, I used an oven, not a bread machine, and hence the traditional recipe.

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