Friday, November 12, 2010
Cardamom Bread Braid
Posted by Level VI Kitchen Wizard at 11/12/2010
Today was a rainy, gray day. The kind where you want to stay in bed all day...well if you're a normal person, that is. Days like today make me want to bake stuff. It makes me feel all fall-y and it helps warm up the house. It's 'comfy', if you will.
This bread is one of my favorite recipes, handed down to me from my mother. I've no idea where she got it from, but I'm glad she did! I'm also glad that she gave me half of her cardamom supply, because it is ridiculously expensive; like $13+ for a little tiny container of it. And if you're a skin-flint like me, you'll have a hard time paying that much for so little.
This bread does take quite a while to make, but it is so worth it if you love fresh bread. And a tip, be sure your place of living is warm (so skin-flints of winter: you'll actually have to turn on your heat), otherwise your bread dough won't rise, and that's bad.
The steps are pretty similar to most yeast breads, mix the ingredients, knead it for a bit, let rise. Shape, let rise. Bake.
One of the differences in this recipe as opposed to most is that it uses warm milk instead of water for the yeast mixture. I also think the most interesting ingredient in this bread is the shredded wheat. I just buy the Post Shredded Wheat original. They are shaped in large squares, and crumbling one is enough for one batch of this bread.
Just before baking, you'll also brush the top of your braid with milk and sprinkle a healthy amount of sugar on it. The taste and texture this step adds always reminds me of the sugar covered pretzels the Germans eat in celebration of St. Martin's day. So don't forget this step, because it really adds a delicious little touch of sweetness.
Also, the best part of making this bread is braiding the dough. I always loved to watch my mom braid it when I was little, thinking it was so awesome that she was braiding food in the same why she used to braid my hair. Yes, I was an easily entertained child....
So if you have kids, letting them help braid the dough would be a great way to involve them in the workings of the kitchen, which is something I believe every child should get to experience.
So...what are you waiting for? Get baking, people!
1/2 cup whole wheat cereal biscuits (I use Post Shredded Wheat Original)
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
1 pkg. active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
3/4 tsp. ground cardamom
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
milk and sugar for topping
Stir together the crushed wheat biscuits, 3/4 cup flour, yeast and cardamom; set aside. Heat milk, butter and sugar in a small saucepan until butter is melted and milk is between 110 and 115 degrees. Add to cereal mixture, stir until combined. Add the eggs and beat for 3 minutes. Stir in enough of the remaining 2 1/4 cups flour to make a stiff dough. (Sometimes you will have to use more then the recipe calls for.) Knead dough for 3 minutes, or until elastic. Put in a greased bowl, cover with a dish towel and let rise until double, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Punch the dough down, divide it into 3 even pieces and let them sit for 10 minutes.
Roll each piece into a 16 inch rope. Connect the 3 ends, make a braid, and connect the other 3 ends. Cover with a dish towel and let rise until double.
Brush the top of the braid with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 35 minutes at 375 degrees or until golden brown. Enjoy!