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Swedish Cardamom Bread

Swedish Cardamom Bread is perfect for family and friends joining to “break bread” together. The cozy flavor of cardamom combines with the light sugary sweetness to create a shareable bread loaf that looks beautiful on the table and tastes heavenly. It has just enough sweetness to make you lick your fingers once or twice after you’re done eating it.
Prep Time1 hr 15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Rising Time1 hr 15 mins
Total Time3 hrs
Course: bread
Cuisine: Swedish
Keyword: Braided Bread Recipe, Cardamom Bread, Swedish Bread
Servings: 12
Calories: 767kcal
Author: Karrie

Ingredients

  • ½ cup warm water heat on the stovetop, or 30 seconds on high in the microwave
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 -¼ tsp active dry yeast from a ¼ oz packet
  • ½ cup salted butter
  • 1 oz 12-oz can evaporated milk + about ½ cup water enough to make 2 cups with the milk
  • 4 eggs beaten
  • ¾ cup additional granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp cardamom seeds lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp cardamom seeds finely crushed or ground
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 8-9 cups all purpose flour

Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp water
  • pearl sugar optional, if not frosting loaf with maple frosting

Maple Frosting:

  • ¾ cup salted butter
  • 5 cups powdered sugar also known as confectioners sugar
  • 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • ½ tsp maple extract
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp sprinkles or pearl sugar optional

Instructions

Prepare your cardamom:

  • Open the green cardamom pods by pressing down on them using the flat side of a chef's knife. Open the pods and remove the cardamom seeds, discarding the outer hulls (I also pick out papery inner fibers as much as possible - you won’t get them all though, so don’t worry too much!).
  • Coarsely grind the seeds with a mortar and pestle or an electric spice grinder. If you don’t have either of those, add seeds to a plastic bag and crush using a rolling pin, the bottom of mason jar, or the flat side of a meat tenderizer (press down, don’t hammer it).
  • You’ll need to separate portions of the seeds: Measure out 3 teaspoons of the lightly crushed seeds, then continue grinding 1 teaspoon of seeds until finely ground.

Proof the Yeast (You don’t need to proof instant yeast, bread machine yeast, or fast-rising yeast).

  • Add warm water, sugar and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment (the one that looks like a curly-Q. Mix on low for 10 seconds just to combine. Then allow the mixture to sit for 5-8 minutes until you see the yeast turning foamy. If your yeast does NOT turn foamy, it’s likely dead and you’ll want to redo this step with fresher yeast.

While that’s proofing:

  • In a small saucepan set over medium-low heat, melt the butter.
  • Once it’s melted, add to the saucepan 2 cups evaporated milk/water mixture
  • Bring the milk-butter mixture to lukewarm heat (104-110 degrees). If you have a thermometer, this is a great time to use it. Too hot and you could kill the yeast. Remove from heat and set aside to cool if necessary.
  • In a separate bowl, lightly beat your eggs.

Making the Dough:

  • Turn your mixer on low and let it stay on low while you add the ingredients.
  • Add in your beaten eggs, the sugar, milk mixture, cardamom, salt and 3 cups of the flour. Increase to medium speed, and let mix for 1 minute.
  • Add 2 more cups of flour. Increase to medium speed, and let mix again for 1 minute.
  • Slowly add in remaining 1-2 cups of flour - ½ cup at a time until mixture comes away from the edges of the bowl and a dough ball forms that is lightly sticky.
  • Cover mixing bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let dough rest for 20 minutes.
  • Line 2 (13-by-18-inch) baking sheets with dampened parchment paper (To dampen, cut your sheets of parchment paper to fit your baking pans, crumple them up, get them wet, shake out, and spread out flat onto each pan).

Braiding the Dough

  • You’ll have enough dough to make a total of 4 loaves of bread.
  • Divide dough into 8 equally sized pieces. To make your first loaf, take 2 pieces of dough and roll each one into a skinny rope about 30 inches long.
  • Cross the two ropes to form an “X,” then bring all 4 strands down so it looks like a baby octopus.
  • Take the furthest left strand and put it over the strand next to it. Then you’ll take the furthest right strand and put it under the strand next to it (and over the next strand). Then the furthest left strand goes over one. And then the furthest side under the strand next to it (and over the next strand). Then repeat. When you reach the end, pinch the remaining dough together and tuck it under the loaf slightly. Repeat with the other dough ropes to make 3 more loaves.
  • Place each loaf onto a parchment lined baking sheet 4-6 inches apart. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise for 30-45 minutes until slightly risen in size.

Bake the Dough

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Make an egg wash by mixing in a small bowl 1 egg and 1 tsp water together. Lightly brush the top and sides of braided loaves with the egg wash, and optionally sprinkle with pearl sugar (if you aren’t making the maple frosting).
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes and surface of the loaves are golden brown (if using thermometer, bake to 195°F). Remove from oven and let cool completely before frosting or slicing.

Make the Frosting:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes.
  • Then with the mixer on low speed, slowly add in the powdered sugar, and continue beating until the sugar is fully incorporated.
  • Add in vanilla, maple extract and cream. Mix on low speed until incorporated.
  • Turn the mixer back up to medium-high speed and beat the buttercream for an additional 5 minutes. If frosting is too soft, add more powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until it’s just right. Or if frosting is too thick, add in more cream, one teaspoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
  • Frost top of each completely cooled Swedish cardamom bread loaf and decorate with sprinkles if desired. To serve, slice and enjoy.
  • Alternative topping: You can drizzle a glaze of powered sugar and milk over the bread.

Notes

To Freeze: Swedish bread freezes nicely for up to 5 months. Wrap the unfrosted bread in plastic wrap, then place the wrapped loaf into a freezer bad. Freeze the frosting in its own bag then tuck it in with your wrapped loaf so everything stays together.
Since this recipe creates 4 loaves, you might enjoy using 1 loaf to make French toast or Monte Christo Sandwiches.
I love topping this bread with maple icing, but you can add your custom touch using vanilla drizzle, sprinkles, turbinado sugar, or pearl sugar.
Everything’s better with butter, including Swedish Cardamom Bread. Don’t be shy with the butter – it will taste amazing!

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 767kcal | Carbohydrates: 129g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 122mg | Sodium: 394mg | Potassium: 152mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 63g | Vitamin A: 727IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 4mg