Menu Banner

Wednesday, December 30

Vetebröd (Swedish Cardamom Bread)

EmailPinterest659Facebook87Twitter3Google+0StumbleUpon33

My Swedish grandmother was a great cook. One thing she always served was vetebröd, which our family calls bulle. Vetebröd is a traditional sweet Swedish yeast bread that has a very unique ingredient – cardamom. Every time I smell this cardamom bread I think of my grandma. This is definitely one of my strongest “memory foods.”

bulle final product beg web

While this isn’t a traditional Christmas food, I only ever get around to making it at Christmastime. Cate LOVES it and calls it the “yummy bread.”

So, on to the recipe! I actually took some step-by-step photos for you. Vetebröd can be baked in many different shapes. The recipe I have calls for simple buns, but braiding the bread is how my mom and I like to bake it. Because I love you all soooo much, I decided to share our family’s special way of braiding the loaf. It’s a great little trick.

Vetebröd
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 2 cakes compressed yeast OR 2 packets active dry yeast OR 4 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1 cup sugar
- 8 cups sifted flour
- 1 cup melted butter
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 20 cardamom pods (or 3 tsp ground cardamom, which is what I use)
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup finely blanched almonds

1. Scald milk and cool to luke warm. Crumble yeast in bowl: add 1/2 cup luke warm milk and stir until yeast is dissolved. Add remaining milk and 1/4 c sugar. Beat in 3 C flour and continue beating until smooth. Cover and set aside to rise until double in bulk, 3/4 – 1 hour.

2. Add reamining sugar, cooled melted butter and salt. Break open cardamom pods – remove tiny seeds and crush thoroughly. Add cardamom and 4 1/2 C flour to yeast mixture. Place remaining 1/2 C flour on board or pastry cloth for kneading.

3. Turn out dough and knead until smooth and elastic. (I actually put all 5 cups of flour in step 2 and then let my Kitchen-Aid do the kneading with the dough hook attachment.) Place in greased bowl. Cover with cloth and let rise until double in bulk, 3/4 – 1 hour.

4. Cut into even size pieces and roll into balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Brush with egg and sprinkle with 1/4 c sugar (rock sugar is really yummy) and almonds. Let rise until double in bulk, 30-40 mins. Bake in moderately hot oven (400 degrees F) 12-15 minutes. (If you do the braid that I describe below, cook at 350 degrees for nearly 30 minutes, when the top is as dark as you want it, cover with foil until bread is done cooking.)

How to make the braided loaf: (you can also do pretty buns – see links at the bottom of the post for more info)
Once the dough is ready to cut into pieces in step 4, you can instead roll out the dough to make a braid. This recipe will make four 12″ braided loaves. Divide the dough into fours and form into a round, even ball. Smoosh the ball down into a rectangular-type shape (as best you can). Roll out to a large rectangle 12″ long and as wide as you can get it, rolling the dough pretty thin (maybe 1/4″ or so). The thinner the dough at this stage the better it will cook.

bulle dough 1 web

Score two lines to divide the rectangle into thirds (the lines should be 12″, the length of the loaf…does that make sense?). These score lines are guides and should not be very deep. Cut lines perpendicular to your score starting at the score line cutting out to the edge (see picture). Make cuts appx. 1 inch apart. The cuts should be made down both sides, should line up and be even in number. (Am I making sense? Thank goodness for pictures!).

bulle dough 2 web

Begin your braid at one end. Fold the pieces across to the opposite score line and angled down to the next level of cut pieces. I sort of smoosh the piece down so it stays in place. Once you’ve braided all the pieces, tuck the last two pieces under each other (pictured) so you have a nice finished end.  (Please note – I should have rolled my dough thinner than pictured here…although the bread still came out.)

bulle dough 3 web

When I used to make this, I would just divide the dough in two and make two braids (what you see in the pictures) – but that made for a thicker braid and the outside would cook before the inside. I have since started dividing it into four braids, which is easier to roll out thin and cooks more evenly. Follow instructions in Step 4 above for prepping to bake (including rising again). You can cook two braids per cookie sheet – the sheets are 12″ wide, so the braid fits cross-wise. If you do have thicker braids that seem to be cooking too quickly on the outside, about halfway through the total bake time of ~30 minutes, cover the loaf with foil. This keeps the outside from getting to dark and it cooks beautifully.

bulle out of oven web

While baking the bread topped with sugar and almonds is good…vanilla glaze is my favorite way to eat it. I mean, seriously, doesn’t that look AWESOME?

bulle icing web

Vanilla Glaze
- 1 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 1 tsp light corn syrup
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Milk or half-and-half or light cream

Mix sugar, syrup and vanilla together. Stir in enough milk/half-and-half/light cream to make drizzling consistency (a little goes a long way!).

I double this recipe to cover all four of my 12″ loaves that yield from the recipe above.

bulle final product end web

I’m not sharing this recipe because it’s an easy one. I’m sharing it because I love it and is special to me. It takes some time, but it is not difficult and so delicious. Eating this soft, yummy bread straight out of the oven is the best. But to replicate the effect the following day, I just zap my bulle in the microwave for 10-15 seconds…mmmmmmmmmm….

Click here to see how I make this bread into buns, which is another delicious way to enjoy them!

This link and this link will will take you to recipes for Swedish cinnamon buns (a little different than this recipe, but I’m sure still tasty). Both of these recipes illustrate how to make the dough into pretty buns. This is a great way to cook vetebröd, my grandma usually made these types of buns.

Enjoy!

EmailPinterest659Facebook87Twitter3Google+0StumbleUpon33

91 Comments »

  1. omg! looks so good. love the photos!
    Happy New Year!

  2. 2
    Lindsay

    i love baking bread, and i love cardamom. sold.

  3. Oh, my. I love cardamom, and I thought I’d had it in just about everything it can go in (and a few it shouldn’t…). But I’ve never had it in bread. This looks wonderful. THANK YOU!

  4. OMG, that’s fantastic. When I first came across your picture of the dough woven together, I never realized it was so easy with the picture illustrations on this page. Nice work.

  5. 5
    heww

    I’m sure farmor is smiling.

  6. 6
    Margot

    Oh,not that looks so delicious. I recently bought some cardamom. When I put it on my spice shelf I wondered to myself what made me purchase it, I can’t think of any recipes I have that call for it. So, now, thanks to your post, I can add “Yummy Bread” to my recipe collection and have a use for that spice.

  7. 7
    Margot

    woops – gosh I need to get better at proofreading. That “not” up there should read “now.” Good grief, maybe I’m not skilled enough to make that gorgeous braided loaf….

  8. I love vetebröd! And yours is soooo beautiful. I’m seriously impressed.

  9. 9
    margaret

    Wow…this really looks fantastic!! Can you tell me if you use AP flour or bread flour for the recipe? Thank you for sharing!!!

  10. love all your comments…so happy to share a very good use of cardamom with you all. (and my dad made me tear up…good job, dad)

    good question, margaret. I just used good old all-purpose and it came out fine. might be interesting to try with bread flour sometime when I”m feeling bored…but AP works great!

  11. 11
    Christina

    This looks AMAZING!!! And how wonderfully special!!! Thank you for sharing. I LOVE LOVE LOVE cardamom and anything with it in it… is my favorite! I can’t even imagine the scent that fills the air when baking this. I’ll be trying this perhaps this weekend.

    Oh – what kind of milk should I use? I think I have a 1 or 2%. Must it be whole milk?

    Thank you!!! XOX

  12. I think I used 1%…I think you’ll be fine with whatever you’ve got! good luck!

  13. 13
    Sarah G

    You make it look so easy. I love cardamom so will have to try this.

  14. It’s sooooo beautiful. Almost, almost too good to eat!

  15. 15
    Mary

    Put butter and cinnamon inside the bun and I can almost smell my childhood in Sweden.

  16. I’m with Cate, yummy indeed, and beautiful to boot!

  17. Wow that’s beautiful! I bet it smells wonderful too.

    Curious to know if vetebröd refers to vertebrae in Swedish. It does sorta look like the spine.

  18. 18
    MaWa

    Bröd means bread – vete means wheat – all about ingredients not the shape. In fact norlanders braid the dough into a ring as well as making individual buns.

    We have a theory why they would have used the word wheat to describe the bread (not whole wheat by the way) – if you are interested let me know….

  19. 19
    maxie

    I’d love to know why all Scandinavians call this “wheat” bread! Finns call it pulla, but the others call it variations of vetebrod: hvetebrod, hvedebrod, hveitibraud.

  20. 20
    Haley

    It looks so delicious! I’m making it RIGHT now! Thank you!

  21. 21
    Pille

    Looks beautiful – and I love the step-by-step photos!
    Happy New Year!!

  22. 22
    Linda

    I appreciate this great post you did, Jane. My grandparents were from Sweden. My grandmother and I used to bake everytime we were together. I have such warm memories of braiding, or knotting the dough, baking it, and finally eating it! It’s so amazing how childhood memories can warm your heart.
    I was of working with yeast (have done it before and got bread that could break a window) but I will give this a try and I’m sure all parts of making this wonderful bread will bring me back to some of the best times in my childhood.
    Thank you so much and Happy New Year!

  23. 23
    Linda

    I appreciate this great post you did, Jane. My grandparents were from Sweden. My grandmother and I used to bake everytime we were together. I have such warm memories of braiding, or knotting the dough, baking it, and finally eating it! The smell of this bread baking is amazing.
    I was afraid of working with yeast (have done it before and got bread that could break a window) but I will give this a try and I’m sure all parts of making this wonderful bread will bring me back to some of the best times in my childhood.
    Thank you so much and Happy New Year!

  24. 24
    Tara

    This looks great! My Grandparents were Swedish and I have never had this. I am going to make it though. I love learning new things that I can pass on to my children. This Christmas we made our rice pudding, Swedish rye bread, dup i grytan (“dip in the pot”: juice from the meat used to dip the bread in and home made)and Korv Swedish sausage made with potatoes, pork and beef. I would love to add this Bread to our Christmas next year! Thanks so much for sharing.

  25. 25
    CIndy

    My mom is Swedish, and she used to make a few of the desserts for us. This Christmas she made one again (finally), and while it wasn’t this recipe, it was delicious! It was more of an almond dessert that she hasn’t made in years. I might have to try your recipe – thanks for sharing :)

  26. 26
    Jane Maynard

    I love all the swedes coming out of the woodwork! :)

  27. Made this the day after I saw your recipe. SIMPLY DELICIOUS! Thanks for sharing.

    So could I use cinnamon in place of the cardamom? I only bought a small amt of cardamom and I’m out for the week. What do you think?

  28. 28
    Jane Maynard

    you could definitely use cinnamon…it’s still yummy, just a totally different flavor. but I’m certain it will still be delish! so glad that the recipe worked for you – yea!

  29. 29
    Shaina

    I need to make this. My grandma made similar breads (she was born in the former Yugoslavia, so not Swedish here), and I wish daily that I had more time to devote to baking. They stir up such wonderful memories. This one looks divine!

  30. Scrumptious! I totally needed that braiding lesson. Mine always looks like a third grader’s hairdo.

  31. 31
    laura

    Thank you for the recipe with beauuutiful photos of the vetebrad bread. I kept coming back to the photos and finally broke down and made it two weeks ago during the rains. I took a photo of the loaves I baked (I am not a baker) because they turned out so pretty; I was very pleased with myself and owe it all to the photos). The consistency of my bread didn’t look as layered/flakey as yours. Mine was heavy (but delicious) Could I have over mixed in the Kitchen Aid? The people I shared it with asked for the recipe; to me that is the ultimate complement.
    Thank you for sharing-yum!

  32. 32
    faye

    Hi Laura and Jane. Here are some possible reasons for heavy bread. The first may be that it was under proofed. I’ve found that the time given in a recipe is really only a guideline, and every environment is unique. To tell if your dough is proofed, push your finger into the side of the dough about 1/2 an inch. It should spring back out at least half way. (BTW, you can over proof as well.) And yes, you can over knead dough, but that takes a long while! You should be able to “windowpane” the dough, which is to gently stretch a small piece thin enough to where it’s almost transparent without ripping. Your going for a balance of chew, the elasticity the dough has before breaking, and tenderness. If you can’t stretch the dough out very far without it fighting you, you may have gone to far. A long “rest” in the fridge may “relax” this issue.

    Hope that helps…

    I love cardamon bread!!!

  33. 34
    laura

    Thank you, Faye. I will try it again!

  34. 35
    nina

    the pictures were so helpful! ty you for the braiding tip. my loaves came out delish!
    thanx again
    nina

  35. 36
    Jane Maynard

    that’s what I like to hear – glad they came out! :)

  36. 37
    Katherine

    I have made the braid by making three “snakes” and braiding them together, but this way is far superior. Brushing the loaves with an egg beaten with a little water makes a nice shiny crust that holds the almonds and sugar on nicely. I serve this with “cardamom butter” which I make by taking unsalted butter, adding powdered sugar, a table spoon of brandy and ground cardamon. It should be soft enough to spread easily.

    Thank you so much. There is still a lot an old lady cna learn about her favorite recipes!

    • Jane Maynard

      katherine, so glad I could share something new with you about one of your old stand-by recipes! :)

      and I am TOTALLY going to try making that cardamom butter – so glad you shared that!!!

  37. 38
    Diana

    Excellent….my husband is from Sweden and his mother is an avid baker and cook. I want to make this as a surprise…hope I can do it justice!!!

    • Jane Maynard

      I’m sure you will! that will be a great surprise! :)

      I love it with the glaze, but rock sugar on top I think is a bit more traditional…if you’re looking to impress the swedes. ;) but seriously, the glaze is SO GOOD. ;)

      good luck!

      (I’m actually making this TODAY myself!)

  38. 39
    alyssa nelson

    jane,
    thank you so much for posting some background information about this bread. my family has strong swedish roots and always made this bread. generations ago, however, they strongly pushed speaking only english in the house and, i think, a lot of the oral histories of their foods (among other things) were lost. recently, i found the EXACT same recipe you have posted, deep in my mother’s recipe drawer. i made it yesterday. my italian wife is now a convert, and pronounced it “better than cookies”. i will have to try the way you braided the bread. it looks lovely. and…the rock sugar on top is SO good. thank you!!!

    • Jane Maynard

      that is crazy you found the exact same recipe – how cool is that?! :) and I’m glad we could convert an Italian over to our side! :)

      you’re welcome! thank you for your great comment!

  39. 40
    Amanda

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! I’m making it today, and hope that it will become part of our Christmas tradition.

    This bread came to me each Easter from our dear neighbor growing up. It brings back memories of her visit to drop it off, and of me sneaking little pieces of it from the kitchen whenever the opportunity presented itself! :)

  40. 41
    Sue

    Jane, Been making this same recipe for year (since the 60′s atleast) but never could figure out why it still did not look like my great grandmothers (born in Sweden) until I saw how you cut it up to weave instead of braiding. Thankyou for solving my family mystery.
    Sue

  41. 42
    Cheryl

    Maybe I missed it, but did you ever say what to do with the slightly beaten egg, 1/4 c. sugar and chopped almonds? Also, does this recipe not call for any eggs?

    • Jane Maynard

      hi cheryl! it’s in step 4, if you’re making the buns. it’s funny you ask because EVERY TIME I make this recipe I wonder “what about the egg, sugar and almonds” and then go through and read the recipe again and there it is! anyway, you can use it or not – it’s up to you!

      I generally do brush the braids and/or buns with egg before baking so they golden up a bit more. I usually don’t top with sugar and almonds.

      and, the bread itself does not have any eggs in the dough.

      hope that’s helpful!

  42. 43
    Christina

    I’ve made my grandmothers recipe for what she called “Swedish coffee cake” for years, and have misplaced the recipe. I had it stored on a computer that crashed, and the Hard copy, is probably in a box in my attic…This sounds almost exactly like her recipe. I’ve always braided by dividing dough into 3 smaller, equal size balls and roll/stretching (gently so as not to tear the dough) into 3 long ropes which I would braid. I think I may try your method. I’ve topped with a glaze, sometimes with chopped nuts added, my mom liked to brush the dough with a milk mixture before baking and sprinkle the top with cinamon and sugar. I prefer the icing or glaze…and almonds slivered are wonderful. Also have done with fillings such as an almond paste…all good. I love cardamon and thought of it as a swedich spice all my life, not realizing it’s versatility until Imet someone from India who added it to tea, and many Indian foods are prepared with the spice also.

  43. 44
    Christina

    Oh, and by the way, thank you

  44. 45
    Heidi

    I can not wait to try this. I have Grandma Olson recipe but it never seems to come out very good. So excited to share this with my family – my husband is also swedish and his mom use to make this bread.
    Looking forward to sharing this with my 2 little swedish girs.
    BIG THANK YOU!! looks great!

  45. 46
    Svenska Flicka

    This IS Christmas morning to me……lightly toasted cardamon bread and lucia buns. Our local Swedish bakery has gone out of business and this recipe will be a godsend to my family this season and thereafter! Thank you!

  46. 47
    Janice

    Do you let the dough rise after braiding and before baking? Thanks!

    • Jane Maynard

      yes! it’s confusing, that is outlined in step 4, but it doesn’t specifically say that when I describe the braid. I’ll go in and make a note, but, yes, let rise to about double in size after you make the braid and before baking! :)

    • Janice

      Thanks, Jane. I had actually posted my question while I was making the bread. I ended up baking it without letting it rise after braiding, but it still came out beautiful and delicious. I plan to make it again on New Year’s Eve, with the additional rise time, and I’m sure it will come out even better. Thanks so much for the recipe, and happy holidays!

    • Jane Maynard

      glad it still came out just fine and that you loved it! I can’t wait to make it myself this week :)

  47. 48
    Westin

    I have been making this bread at Christmas for 25 years. I make loaves to give to neighbors on Christmas Eve. I use bread flour, and roll out strands that I braid. It isn’t Christmas without it!

  48. 49
    Susan

    My daughter made this bread in Philadelphia, froze a loaf, and then mailed the frozen loaf
    to me.It arrived perfectly and I shared a few slices with Church Women friends,but it is so
    delicious that I intend to enjoy alot of it thru the Christmas season! I am so proud of her
    that she made the recipe and it looks just like the pictures here! Thanks, Heathermarie!
    Love, Mom

  49. 50
    Christine

    I ate this coffee bread as a child and I have been making it for many years from an old cookbook from my grandparents church. I too make it at Chriatmas and give loaves to my children and grandchildren to keep up my swedish tradition. I will try your recipe this year as I’ve always had trouble rolling out the dough for a long enough braid and your method looks beautiful. My recipe also called for eggs and I want to see if it will be lighter without them. I can’t wait to smell it baking.

    • Jane Maynard

      I’ll be curious to see how the recipes compare! and I hope this braiding technique makes things easier for you – I love it! have fun baking! :)

  50. 51
    Everett Gustav Jacobson Jr.

    Hi Jane,

    Thank you for posting this recipe. Our family (all of the grandparents) came from Sweden in early 1900′s – so there’s a rich heritage of Swedish tradition. My mom is gone; she often baked bulle and braided bread for our family of 12. The distinct smell of cardamon wafting through the house when I arrived home from school was one of those very special experiences — only topped by spreading some butter on one, two or three bulle and savoring the delicious flavor.
    It has been a long time since we have had vetebröd but I’ve been inspired by all of the earlier posts and the excitement generated – your enthusiasm is quite obvious. Today, some vetebröd will find its way into the oven. I hope to do it justice – in appearance, flavor and texture – because the little arbiters (8 of 13 grandkids) will be here on Monday.

    Merry Christmas!!

    • Jane Maynard

      thanks for your great comment – love it! and enjoy the bread, today! I am sure you’ll do it justice. I think I’ll be making mine tomorrow – can’t wait to eat it! :)

  51. 52
    Carl Svenhard

    Was sitting here feeling melancholy. Listening to a recording of a fifty year old Christmas dinner of my farmor and Farfar. Bless them .. Could just taste the cardamom .. Found your receipe. And thought why not make this ..thank you and Merry Christmas ..

  52. 53
    Elsa Anders

    Hi! I always had this brod for Christmas, but our version added currents, so it was a little like stolen the German. You absolutely should have the almonds,and cardamon!

  53. 54
    Onno

    I baked this vetebröd this morning and it’s delicious!!!
    Thanks!!!

    And a very good 2013 :-)

  54. 55
    Everett Gustav Jacobson Jr.

    Hi. Made vetebröd (twice) since earlier post – once with my wife and then again with our 35+ year old daughter last night (as she wanted a baking lesson from dad). Tastes great and looks great. I recall the braids and bulle that my mom made years ago were very smooth on the outer surfaces. It appears that I need to change something with how I am working with the dough to end up with smoother braids. On each one, there were places where the “cells” opened up, exposing a “rough” looking surface. Does that indicate a need to add more flour, use less, knead more or ?? Any ideas. Thanks.

    • Jane Maynard

      my first guess is that you need to knead longer. I think that will probably do the trick!

  55. 56
    Everett Gustav Jacobson Jr.

    Thank you. Will give more kneading a try and see how that goes. Have to give the carbs a break for a little while.;<)

    • Jane Maynard

      do let me know if that helps!

      and, amen to the carbs…good golly the last few weeks have been devilishly delicious! ;)

  56. 57
    Wendy

    The Vetebrod looks delicious. I am wondering if anyone has a recipe for a Swedish pastry/bread called Vinebrod. I have the recipe left by my Aunt Signe but some of the writing is faded and I would love to be sure I have it correct. Thanks!

    • Jane Maynard

      sadly I do not, wendy – hopefully someone else will be able to chime in!

    • Craig V

      Wendy, I just did some searching and running the word through translators, and *think* vinebrot is actually “weinerbrot”, which is Swedish for “danish pastry”. When I searched for vinebrot a few hits landed on Danish kringle recipes, the incredibly flaky pastry. Leave yourself lots of time, plenty of folding and waiting for that one…

  57. 58
    Joanne

    I can’t wait to try this. I used to bake with my swedish grandmother when I was a child. We make this all the time. She left me her cookbooks (all in swedish) and I have been trying to make the recipes…they don’t always come out right…hopefully this will be close!

    • Jane Maynard

      you just need to track down a swede to translate and convert everything for you! :) I do love that you have her cookbooks, so neat. lmk how the bread goes!

  58. 59
    Craig V

    My granmother used to make a very similar recipe to this. She gave me the recipe, and I managed to botch three starters before calling her to figure out my mistake (it wasn’t 3/4th’s cup flour, but rather 3 or 4 cups! Duh..) and made a great batch. I made it again a few years later, but hadn’t found the time again since. Of course I’ve managed to lose her recipe and spent a lot of time searching for a similar recipe. I think yours is very close. The key is in the three risings. We add raisins and citron, but the basics are all there. Thank you so much.

    It was wonderful reading all the passion folks have for this bread. It really does take me back to Mom-mar and Pop-pop’s house. Aw heck, now I’m tearing up…

  59. 60
    wendy

    Craig V.: Thank you so much for your reply!! I saw the Danish Kringle recipes as well and I think you are correct. Now I just need a full free day to make it!

  60. 61
    Craig V

    @Wendy: you’re very welcome, I’m happy if I’ve helped at all. The Swedish bread recipe worked really well, I’ve got two tasty loaves, and will no doubt bake some more over the holidays. Finding the time is tough but SO worth it!

  61. this looks gorgeous – I’ve pinned it!

Leave a comment

4 Trackbacks

Martha\\\'s Circle
Eat Less Meat
SocialLuxe
ONE