Swedish Cardamom Bread

Swedish Cardamom Bread
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Swedish cardamom bread
Home scratched bread is the best!

We got this recipe from a friend several years ago, but, for one reason or another, never made it. Well, really, the one reason is that we didn’t have any cardamom. It turns out that it’s a bit difficult to make something when you’re missing the one ingredient mentioned in the name. So, this year, we headed off to one of our favorite stores to pick up some cardamom.

Now, we’re sure that many people don’t have favorite stores where they pick up spices, but, if you happen to have a Penzey’s near you, stop in and check it out. A good selection of spices at great prices. Or you can shop online, too. We only mention it because this is where we buy most of our spices, and we think you might like it, too.

Anyway, cardamom in hand, lets’ get scratchin’. Oh, we cut back the original recipe to one loaf of bread, and we list ingredients by weight in addition to volume.

Swedish Cardamom Bread

Yield: 1 large loaf

Swedish Cardamom Bread


  • 250 g (1 cup) milk
  • 100 g (1/2 cup ) sugar
  • 7 g (1 pkg or 2 1/4 tsp) dried yeast
  • 55 g (4 Tbs) unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 g (1 Tbs) freshly ground cardamom
  • Pinch salt
  • 500g (3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs unsalted butter, for finishing
  • 1-2 Tbs sugar, for finishing

Abbreviated Instructions

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine milk, sugar, yeast, butter, egg, cardamom, and salt. Place over a pot of simmering water and heat to 100-105°F, stirring to combine and melt butter. DO NOT allow temperature to rise beyond 105°F or the yeast will die.

Once melted, attach to a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add flour and knead for 10 minutes. If needed, add more flour so the dough will come together and clean the side of the bowl.

Remove dough from bowl and form into a ball. Lightly oil bowl and return dough, smearing to coat with oil. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or silicone baking mat.

Remove dough and cut into three equal pieces. Form each into a rope about 15 inches long and 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Place on prepared baking sheet and braid into a loaf.

Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes.

While hot, spread butter over the top and sprinkle with sugar.


Ingredient discussion:

We thought it might be difficult to open the cardamom pods, but it was easy to pry them apart with our fingernails.

Cardamom comes in little pods that are easy to peel open with your fingernails, revealing the seeds inside. It’ll only take you a few minutes to get enough seeds, then you can grind them in a spice grinder (we use a small coffee grinder) or just crush them with the back of a spoon. Butter, as always for baking, is unsalted. No sense in having someone at the dairy helping you salt your food. And the eggs, ideally, are from free-range hens. Now that there are lots of people raising chickens in their backyards, look around and see if you can find someone nearby selling eggs. You’ll have a better egg, you’ll support your neighbor, and the hens will have a better life. Win. Win. Win.

Procedure in detail:

melting butter
While melting and mixing, do not let the liquid get above 105°F. It would kill the yeast.

Mix liquids. Well, more than liquids, really. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the milk, sugar, yeast, butter, egg, cardamom, and salt. The butter will still be in chunks and we need to melt it. The easiest way is to place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, improvising a double boiler. Warm the liquids until the butter starts to melt, but DO NOT let the liquid get hot. If you have a thermometer, use it to keep the temperature below 105°F or you’ll kill the  yeast. If not, consider warming everything but the yeast, then letting it cool until it feels lukewarm, and then add the yeast.

bread dough
The dough will clean the sides of the bowl when there’s enough flour, then knead for 10 minutes.

Add flour. Place the bowl of liquids on the stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment and add about 3 cups (about 420 g) of flour. Start kneading and add more flour as necessary, a couple of tablespoons at a time, until the dough comes together and cleans the sides of the bowl.

Knead. Let the machine, set on low, knead the dough for 10 minutes. The dough will be smooth and supple.

bread dough
Lightly oil the bowl and the dough. Cover and let rise until doubled.

First rise. Remove the dough from the bowl, and, using your hand, shape it into a smooth ball. Pour about a tablespoon of light vegetable oil into the bowl and use the dough to smear it around, coating both the sides of the bowl and the dough.  Place the dough into the bowl and cover with a plate or plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Line baking sheet. Line a baking sheet with parchment, a silicone baking mat, or lightly grease the pan.

bread dough ropes
Make three ropes or snakes to braid together. It’s easier than we thought.
braided bread
A nice braid makes the bread look a lot better, don’t you think?

Shape. Turn out the dough and cut it into three equal pieces. Shape each into a long snake or rope, about 15 inches long and an 1 to 2 inches in diameter; set the ropes onto the prepared baking sheet. Press the ends of the rope together at one end, then braid the three ropes together, forming a braided loaf.

Second rise. Cover the loaf with a clean towel or plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled, 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bake. Uncover the loaf and bake until it’s golden-brown on the top and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 35 to 45 minutes.

Top. While hot, smear with butter and sprinkle with sugar.

Cool. Like all breads, let cool to nearly room temperature before slicing. We know this is the hardest part, but be as patient as possible.

We loved the look of this bread. We’ve never made a braided bread before, partly because we assumed it would be difficult, with the dough sticking all over the place. We were wrong. It’s really easy and the dough doesn’t stick. A minute of work for a really nice-looking loaf of bread is worth it, in our book. The taste and texture of this bread is really good, too. Cardamom is an interesting taste, and it’s hard to describe, but we can imagine that you’ll either like the flavor or not; we doubt that there’s much middle ground. We liked it, so we really liked the bread, especially with a bit of Cheddar cheese on top of the slices. Mmm. It made a great snacky dinner. Five.

Worth the trouble?

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