Cardamom Easter Bread

I used to make this bread every year because I like cardamom, though one of my kids does not. I made it anyway as it is a lovely rich bread which toasts well.


Cardamom Easter Bread

From Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Breads

¼ cup warm water

1  package active dry yeast

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

½ cup milk, hot

2 teaspoons cardamom

¼ cup butter

1 egg, room temp

3 1/2 cups flour

1. In a small  bowl or cup, dissolve yeast in water.

2. In a large mixing bowl put sugar, butter and salt and over it pour the hot milk. Stir until butter is sift and milk has cooled to lukewarm. Add cardamom.

3. Blend in 1 cup of flour for 2 minutes with the mixer flat beater or wooden spoon. 

4. Stir in the egg and yeast.

5. Add remaining flour, a half cup at a time until a rough ball is formed and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

6. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. With a strong push turn fold action, knead till the dough is smooth and elastic or knead with the mixer under the dough hook for 6 minutes.

7. Return the dough to the bowl; cover with plastic wrap and put aside at room temperature till the dough has doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

8. Punch down the dough, cover again and allow to rise until doubled again.

9. Punch down again and turn it onto a floured surface; knead briefly to work out air bubbles.

10. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts. Roll each part under your palms into a strand 14 inches long.

11. Beginning in the middle of the strands, braid loosely to one end. Reverse the loaf and again braid from middle to end.

12. Pinch the ends closed and place on a baking sheet.

13. Cover the dough with wax paper and leave till doubled in bulk and puffy to the touch, about 1 hour.

14. Preheat oven to 375°F 20 minutes before baking.

15.   15. Bake till the crust is rich brown, about 40 minutes.

16. An instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf should read 190-200F.

17. Remove braid from the oven. Use a metal spatula to lift it off the baking sheet, because the hot loaf will be fragile and might break.

18. Cool on a wire rack.

19. This bread keeps well and toasts beautifully and also freezes well.

I added the zest of a lemon to the dough for a lovely lemony flavor. I also made it as a single loaf rather than a brained.

© Cheryl Fuller, 2007. All  rights reserved.