By Sarah Gustafson
This recipe is brought to us by Sarah Gustafson, a talented cook and loving mother who has amazed us by her creative and exemplary culinary expertise. This cardamom-flavoured enriched dough will produce a bread with a soft, tender crumb that is lightly sweetened. Popular in Sweden and Finland, it is perfectly paired with coffee or tea, or toasted with peanut butter (the author's favourite way to enjoy it).
Combine yeast & 2 tsp sugar with the lukewarm water. Let stand for 10 mins. It should get frothy.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat scald the milk, taking care not to let it burn on the bottom. Pour the scalded milk into a large bowl with the butter and stir until the butter is melted. Stir in 1/2 cup sugar and the salt and let sit until lukewarm. Stir in the water and yeast mixture.
Stir in enough flour into the milk mixture to make a thick batter, then stir in the eggs and crushed cardamom.
Stir in more flour until it is still a bit sticky but workable, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface to knead. Take care not to add too much flour at once. You can add little sprinkles of flour as you knead to create a smooth, soft dough that does not stick to your hands. If you add too much flour you will end up with a dense crumb. You can achieve this whole step using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, slowly adding flour and checking it for wetness/stickiness as it starts to come together. Knead for about 10 minutes on low. You are looking for a soft smooth dough.
Place the dough in a large bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1.5 hours. Punch down and give it a quick knead. Cut dough into 6 equal portions. Roll each portion into rods/stands - you are going to be braiding 3 pieces together and making 2 loaves. Join 3 strands at one end, make a neat, even braid, and tuck the ends under. Transfer the loaves to either 1 large tray, or each loaf unto 2 smaller ones. Let rise for another 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Beat 1 egg in a small bowl with 1 TBLS of water. Generously and evenly brush the loaves with this mixture, finishing with an even sprinkle of sugar. Bake the loaves until golden brown, 25-35 minutes. Let cool before tightly wrapping to keep the bread soft.