This recipe comes from Sophie Grigson’s book Spices, which someone gave us the other day. It is an amazing trove of recipes. This one is a slightly unexpected one; it’s a traditional Finnish sweet bread with cardamom. I wasn’t too convinced I actually liked cardamom but it made the kitchen smell like the best sort of Scandinavian bakery. This one is a bit of an undertaking, but if you have a Saturday afternoon in the sunshine, a loaf of this bread will make it even better.
A quick note: this recipe would make one gargantuan loaf. I made two and they still came out pretty substantial. Just remember to cook for less time if you’re making two.
100g diced butter
10 green cardamom pods
110g caster sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
7g sachet easy blend dried yeast
600g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 egg yolk and 1 tspn milk, beaten together
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling
Heat the butter and milk on the stove until nearly, but not quite, boiling.
Put in the fridge to cool. Split open the cardamom seeds, throw away the husks and crush the seeds with a mortar and pestle or a heavy rolling pin.
Beat the egg, sugar and salt together in a large bowl, then whisk in the milk/butter mixture, yeast and cardamom.
Beat in the flour in batches until you have a soft dough that is barely sticky. Knead the dough on a floured surface for at least 10 mins.
Return to the bowl, cover with cling-film and leave in a warm place for 2-3 hours until doubled in size.
Knead the dough again for a few minutes. Divide into four balls and roll them out into long sausages.
Pinch the strands together at one end, and plait them together; starting at the same side each time, weave the outermost sausage over-under-over to the other side.
At the end, tuck the ends underneath and place it on a lightly oiled baking tray. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise again for 1 ½ hours. Preheat the oven to 180C.
Bake for 30-35 mins (less if you are making smaller loaves), until it sounds hollow when tapped on the base with a fingernail. Brush quickly with the glaze, sprinkle with sugar and return to the oven for 2 mins. NB please read the recipe properly and glaze it with egg yolk mixed with milk, or it will come out looking rather yellow, like mine. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.