Thank you to Kathryn for inviting me to do a guest blog on her "Scandinavian Christmas" series - you can find and follow the series on her blog "The Pickled Herring." She is my husband's cousin on his Swedish side... and if you've ever wondered what Scandinavian cooking, crafting, and fika-ing is all about, look no further than her blog!
I've actually written before about how I'm a Scandinavian poser. I love the food and I look the part but I'm actually just a Euro-mix and there's nothing Scandinavian in there. Hasn't stopped me though. I went to a Norweigan-affiliated college and married myself right into a culturally Swedish-American family. My husband's family lives near the Swedish area of Chicago. They are ECC Christians and most attend college at North Park University (both Swedish-affiliated). They have a massive "smorgasbord" on Christmas Eve, and some of the nuttier ones actually wake up at dawn on Christmas morning for a Julotta service. (Never. Again.).
Me, I'm just in it for the food. (And the excuse for extra cute Christmas decor in our apartment). And one of my absolute favorites is a simple, moist, sweet, little-something-extra bread. I have no idea how my MIL keeps it stocked at the epic Murakami Christmases, where seriously like 30 people (more one year!) stay in the same house and never stop eating this bread. She must make like 20 loaves of it and freeze them all or something. But it is THE staple of Christmases I've come to know and love over the past 15 years and it's just perfect - you'll never tire of it. So if you're all snowed in or you have a day you can spend relaxing at home, I highly recommend Swedish Cardamom Coffee Bread. The recipe makes four loaves - perfect for sharing or freezing! My husband's family members are most likely to be found eating a slice toasted with butter, cinnamon, and sugar or plain with a slice of jarlsburg cheese. I like it just straight up - so moist.
Swedish Cardamom Coffee Bread
1 slightly rounded Tbsp. dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp. sugar
2 cups warm milk
1/2 cup butter
1 cup + 2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp salt
2 eggs plus 3 egg yolks, well beaten
7-9 cups flour (all-purpose)
2 Tbsp ground cardamom
Pastry brush or other tool to smooth on egg glaze
Cinnamon and sugar mixture (to taste - about 1-1.5 cups)
Stir the first three ingredients in a bowl to prepare the yeast.
In a mixer, mix the butter, sugar, and salt. Add the warm milk - to melt the butter. Cool to lukewarm (so that you don't cook the eggs when you add them). Add the cardamom. Add the beaten eggs and egg yolks. Add the yeast. Mix. Mix in 6 cups of flour and beat until smooth. Turn out batter onto a floured (1 cup) board. Gently kneed in the balance of the flour with greased hands for 5-10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl. Cover with wet towel. Let rise until doubled in a barely-warm oven with a pan of water - should take 1.5-2 hours.
|Having a blast with the lady herself - people who see pics ask me if she's "the Asian one" - no, she's Swedish.|
Turn the risen dough out on a lightly floured board. Kneed for about half a minute. Divide into 4 equal parts; these will be your loaves. Working with one part at a time, divide that part in 4 again and roll out into 4 ropes.
And now I'm a real poser - this was 2009 so I was 29 here.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Gather 4 ropes at one end and press them together. Braid by starting with the rope on the right and weaving it over to the left, under-over-under. Repeat with the rope that is now on the right, always weaving right to left. Pinch the ends together. It doesn't have to be perfect - mine never are.
Place the braids on greased cookie sheets (2 braids per sheet) and cover with another wet towel. Let rise until double (45 minutes - 1 hour). Take one egg, add a tsp of water, beat, and smooth it over the top of the loaves. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the top of each loaf, just cram it on
|Mark's mom's. Hers look way better but you can mess it up like I do and it still tastes great!|
Bake 1 pan with 2 loaves at a time for 20 minutes. Check and add 1-2 minutes as needed. Check the bottom along the edge to avoid blackening. The top and bottom should be browned. Cool on racks if possible.
|Pretend you're 29 again as soon as these come out of the oven. That way you can eat twice as much!|