Cardamom Coffee Bread

  This recipe is adapted from The Finnish Cookbook. It is reminiscent of the coffee breads made by my motherís family. We love it for breakfast with fresh Bellweather ricotta cheese and Damson preserves.

For the Dough:

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup. warm water
2 cups whole milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
seeds from 12 green cardamom pods, pulverized
4 large free-range eggs, beaten
8-9 cups sifted organic unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sweet butter, melted

For the Glaze:

1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. sugar

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Stir in the milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, eggs and enough flour to make a batter (about 2 cups). Beat until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add about 3 cups of the flour and beat well; the dough should be glossy in appearance. Add the melted butter and stir in well. Beat again until the dough looks glossy. Stir in the remaining flour until a stiff dough forms and the dough regains it's satin texture.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and cover with an inverted mixing bowl. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Knead until smooth and satiny. Place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, turn the dough to grease the top, cover lightly and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 hr.) Punch down and let rise again until almost doubled (about 30 min.)
Turn out again onto a lightly floured board, divide into three parts, divide each part again into three, and braid. Lift loaves gently onto baking sheets and let rise for 20 minutes. The loaves should be quite puffy, but not doubled in size. Brush the loaves with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the sugar.
Bake in 400̊ F oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven when it is a light golden brown. Slice to serve.
Makes 3 medium loaves.
This loaf freezes well. It also makes a well appreciated food gift.

© Elissa Rubin-Mahon 2006