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Finnish Cardamom Coffee Bread

Makes 2 loaves
Time 2 hr 30 min
Serve this cardamom-scented bread toasted and spread with butter alongside strong coffee on early winter mornings. This bread also freezes well. Wrap in plastic wrap and then foil for the best results.
Ingredients
  • 2 (0.25-ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup sugar divided
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs divided
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour divided, plus more for dusting and kneading
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
Method

In a large bowl, combine yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar with 1/4 cup warm water. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in milk and set aside to let cool to lukewarm.

Lightly beat one of the eggs. Stir beaten egg and reserved milk mixture into bubbly yeast mixture.

In a small bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour, 1/2 cup of the sugar, salt and cardamom. Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture gradually, stirring with a wooden spoon. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add as much of the remaining 3/4 cup flour as needed, kneading until the dough is smooth.

Return to the bowl and dust with a bit more flour, then cover bowl with a dish towel and set aside in a warm place to let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

With floured hands, punch down dough and transfer to a lightly-floured surface. Divide dough into 6 equal ropes, each about 12 inches long.

Braid 3 ropes loosely into a loaf, tucking loose ends underneath to secure. Repeat with remaining ropes to create 2 loaves total. Transfer loaves to a nonstick or lightly greased baking sheet, arranging them at least 6 inches apart. Cover loaves with a dish towel and set aside in a warm place to let rise again, until the dough springs back about halfway when lightly pressed, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly beat remaining egg. Brush braided, risen loaves with egg and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 35 minutes. Transfer to a rack to let cool to room temperature, then slice and serve.

Note: We've provided special diet and nutritional information for educational purposes. But remember - we're cooks, not doctors! You should follow the advice of your health-care provider. And since product formulations change, check product labels for the most recent ingredient information.
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  • 2 (0.25-ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup sugar divided
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs divided
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour divided, plus more for dusting and kneading
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom