Growing up in a Scandinavian family introduced me to the pleasures of coffee breaks with relatives and guests, always accompanied by homemade sweet breads, cakes, or cookies. Now in my own home, I love making a Swedish cardamom bread to accompany our morning coffee and tea breaks, and this is the best cardamom bread recipe I've made thus far.
Sweet, Spicy, and Swedish
Known as Vetebröd in Sweden, cardamom bread is a beautiful golden braided sweet bread sprinkled with raw sugar or sliced almonds, or drizzled with a simple icing.
While it is traditionally served with coffee, cardamom bread is equally good when paired with a cardamom vanilla crème tea like our Vanilla Latte Tea. It's also great served with Swedish glogg, a marvelous hot drink made of equal parts port wine, whiskey, and rum that is sweetened with sugar and mulled with spices, fruit, and nuts, then served in a glass with a portion of boozy nuts and fruit to spoon up when you get to the bottom. It's a wonderfully decadent thing to serve with warm slices of cardamom bread.
This gorgeous loaf of bread is sheer pleasure to make. When spring rains keeps you indoors, pull out your favorite big mixing bowl, and within a few hours you'll have a fragrant loaf so pretty you'd swear you picked it up at the local Swedish bakery. It's definitely a loaf you'll be proud of.
Best Cardamom Bread Recipe
Cardamom is the shining light of this Swedish sweet bread. While pre-ground cardamom works fine in this recipe, grinding whole cardamom pods into powder just before you need it will take this already wonderful loaf into something exquisitely fragrant and full of flavor.
The sweetness of this loaf is adjustable to your preference, and I use between 1/4 cup and 1/3 cup sugar to achieve the right balance of sweetness that really highlights the cardamom flavoring. I often exchange brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup for white sugar, but in this instance, the best cardamom bread recipe really is best with plain white sugar.
You could use oil for this cardamom bread, but melted butter is by far the better choice, adding richness and a distinctive butter flavor that is absolutely vital.
The other distinctive aspect of this loaf is its beautifully golden crust that glistens in the light. Once you've braided the dough, simply brush it with a wash of beaten egg and water, set it to rise once more, pop it in the oven, and when you pull that beauty out 30 minutes later, you'll be amazed at the rich, golden crust.
Be sure to cool your loaf for a few minutes before slicing, then cut into thick slices and slather with cold butter before serving with a hot cup of tea or strong coffee.
It also makes great breakfast toast, or a truly decadent version of French Toast when you dip thick slices in the traditional egg and milk mixture spiced with freshly ground cardamom instead of cinnamon.
Best Cardamom Bread Recipe
- 1 cup warm milk
- 1/4 cup white sugar (use 1/3 cup if you want the bread sweeter)
- 2 rounded teaspoons active dry yeast
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup butter, melted and set aside
- 1 egg (for egg wash)
- 1 teaspoon water
- Raw sugar for topping
In large mixing bowl, stir together warm milk and sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the top and let stand 5 minutes.
Stir in 2 cups flour, eggs, ground cardamom, and salt and mix until smooth.
Stir in butter and mix until smooth.
Sprinkle 1 cup flour over dough, and knead. Add more remaining flour as needed until dough can be easily handled and doesn't stick to hands.
Mold dough into ball, place in bowl, and cover with a damp dish towel. Leave for 1 1/2 hours until doubled.
Punch down dough, divide into three pieces, and roll into 3 equal ropes about 20 inches long.
Braid the strands, tucking ends under, and place on baking paper-lined baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg and water, sprinkle with raw sugar, and set aside to rise in warm, draft-free place about 40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375.
Place bread in oven and bake 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
Remove to baking rack and cool 5-10 minutes until ready to slice and eat.