This bread is traditionally made in the winter and particularly for Christmas. My husband’s family is Swedish and I noticed the recipe in a 1980s Sunset holiday cooking book I have on the shelf. I wanted to make this for Christmas but I did not have an opportunity. So, much like my after Christmas Monkey bread, I decided to give this fragrant bread a try after the holiday. While this is a tradition on Christmas morning, I read it is also commonly made to enjoy or gift over the dark part of winter. Cardamom is my favorite baking spice and this recipe calls for a whopping amount. Our recipe indicates this may be made ahead and then reheated for a special breakfast (wrap airtight, freeze, and warm at 350 for about 20 minutes). It is best to pull this bread apart and serve, instead of cutting.
Swedish Kardemumma Krans – Winter Coffee Cake
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 C warm water
2 1/2 C warm milk (about 110)3/4 C melted butter, cooled
1 large egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (always ground cardamom from seed, fresh. It loses flavor and aroma quickly after grinding and should not be stored that way)
About 8 C all-purpose flour
2 C Powdered Sugar
1 T Lemon extract
2 – 3 T milk
In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water and let stand for 5 minutes to soften. Stir in milk, butter, egg, salt, sugar and cardamom until blended. With a heavy spoon, stir in 7 C of the flour or enough to form a dough. If using a standing mixer, switch to dough hook at this point. Add remaining cup of flour, or enough to make an unsticky dough. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Add more flour if needed to prevent sticking. Place dough in a greased bowl, turn over to grease top, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 – 1 1/2 hours). Punch dough down and knead briefly on floured board to release air. Divide into 6 equal portions, roll each into a rope about 24 inches long. Place 3 ropes on a greased baking sheet (or sil pad), pinch tops together and braid loosely. Form the braid into a ring, pinching ends together. Repeat to make second braided wreath. Cover and let rise in warm place until almost doubled (about 40 minutes). I allowed mine to rise in the fridge overnight.
Bake in a 350 oven until loaves are medium brown. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes and serve warm. Spoon lemon icing onto each wreath and allow it to drizzle down sides.
My original recipe, from a vintage 1988 Sunset cookbook