In the scope of things, this bread has been the teensiest little ray of joy in the past few days. I’ll take it. When it turned out, I actually stopped and smiled. A new thing for me, since last Friday anyway. While I had no plans of writing a post this week (I am having a hard time just completing a sentence), I absolutely had to share this. With the hope that one of you will try it just to see what I mean. If you were here, I’d make it for you. I wish you were here.
This Cardamom Braid is a delicately sweet little bread that takes very little prep time and is easy to mix together. Serve it warm, with some honey butter (just add honey to taste to your butter), and you’ve got a little slice of paradise. It’s one of those things I love to have on hand for weekend (or Holiday) mornings.
Okay, so mine isn’t beautiful, but it doesn’t need to be to taste good and make you smile. Can you see the little pieces of orange zest in there? Oh my. For me, they’re everything (along with the cardamom) in this. There’s just enough to sweeten the bread a little bit, making it downright perfect.
The recipe is below, but here’s a few photos of it along the way:
First, you have to activate the package of yeast in warm water. Let it sit for 10 minutes while you mix up the other ingredients. Once the yeast is activated, add it to the mixture of other ingredients. Let it rest for another 10 minutes, then turn it all out on a lightly floured surface. Add enough of the flour so you have a smooth, elastic dough. Knead for 3-5 minutes by hand, or a little less time with your electric mixer and dough hook. Shape into a ball and place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Turn the ball once, to cover it with oil. Mine looked like this. Then, cover the bowl and set it in a warm place to rise (I always use my microwave for this) for an hour to an hour and a quarter. You want the dough to double in size.
Once it’s risen, punch down the dough and let it rest for another 10 minutes.
Now, split the dough into 3 equal parts. Roll each part out into 14-inch long ropes. (You can see mine weren’t perfect, but it didn’t matter in the least, they were still remarkably good). Place the ropes on a lightly greased baking sheet, one inch a part….
Making bread seems like a long, complicated process (at least I used to think so), but it’s not. The truth is, the hands on time for this bread is less than a half hour, the rest is rising and baking. And THAT is time well spent, in this case. I’m sure yours will be prettier than mine, but either way, the Cardamom Braid is such a joy to eat. And we could all use a little bit of joy right now, no matter how small it is. Take your time and enjoy it….
Cardamom Braid Recipe
Thank you Midwest Living
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees )
- 3/4 cup warm milk (105 degrees to 115 degrees )
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon finely shredded fresh orange peel
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/2-4 cups all-purpose flour
- Coarse raw sugar
In a small mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in the warm water; set aside for 10 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the warm milk, 1/2 cup sugar, the melted and cooled butter, oil, orange peel, cardamom and salt. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until combined. Stir in 1 cup of the flour. Add the yeast mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in 2 cups flour, one cup at a time. (The dough should be slightly slightly wet.) Cover; let dough rest for 10 minutes.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (3 to 5 minutes total). Shape dough into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the surface. Cover; let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (1 to 1 1/4 hours).
Punch down dough. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Cover; let rest for 10 minutes.
Divide dough into thirds. Shape each portion into a 14-inch-long rope. Place the ropes 1 inch apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Starting in the middle, loosely braid to each end. Pinch the ends to seal and tuck under the loaf. Cover; let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled (about 1 hour).
Lightly brush or mist top of braids with water; sprinkle with coarse, raw sugar.
Bake in a 375 degrees oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when you tap the top. (Internal temperature should be 180 degrees ) If necessary to prevent overbrowning, cover loosely with foil for the last 10 minutes of baking. Remove from baking sheet. Cool on a wire rack.