Vetebröd | Braided Swedish Cardamom Bread
  • 2½ cups milk
  • 2 cakes compressed yeast OR 2 packets active dry yeast OR 4½ tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 cups sifted flour
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 20 cardamom pods (or 3 tsp ground cardamom, which is what I use)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup finely blanched almonds
  1. Scald milk and cool to luke warm. Crumble yeast in bowl: add ½ cup of the luke warm milk and stir until yeast is dissolved. Add remaining milk and ¼ c sugar. Beat in 3 C flour and continue beating until smooth. Cover and set aside to rise until double in bulk, ¾ - 1 hour. (I make this recipe in my stand mixer.)
  2. Add remaining sugar, cooled melted butter and salt. If using cardamom pods, break open pods and remove the tiny seeds, then crush the seeds thoroughly. Add cardamom (the freshly-ground stuff or the 3 teaspoons ground cardamom) and 4½ C flour to yeast mixture. Place remaining ½ C flour on board or pastry cloth for kneading.
  3. Turn out dough and knead until smooth and elastic. Note: I put all 5 cups of flour in step 2 and then let my Kitchen-Aid do the kneading with the dough hook attachment.
  4. Place kneaded dough in greased bowl. Cover with cloth and let rise until double in bulk, ¾ - 1 hour.
  5. Cut into even size pieces and roll into balls. Place on un-greased cookie sheet. Brush with egg and sprinkle with ¼ c sugar (Swedish pearl sugar is the best) and almonds (if using). Let rise until double in bulk, 30-40 mins. Bake in moderately hot oven, 400ºF for 12-15 minutes. If you want to make the braided loaf, keep reading the directions below. When cooking it as a loaf, bake the bread at 350º F for 20-30 minutes, until the top of the bread is very browned.
  7. 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 ¼" or so). The thinner the dough at this stage the more evenly the bread will cook.
  8. Score two lines to divide the rectangle into thirds (the lines should be 12", the length of the loaf...does that make sense? See photos above). These score lines are guides and should not be very deep. Cut lines perpendicular to your score lines starting at the score line cutting out to the edge (see pictures). 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!).
  9. 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 probably should have rolled my dough thinner than pictured above...although the bread still came out great!)
  10. 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 cover the loaf with foil. This keeps the outside from getting to dark and it cooks beautifully.
Recipe by This Week for Dinner at