Break some bread with Natural Sugar! Bake some bread, that is. Now don’t be afraid – if I can make bread from scratch, so can you. It has scared me for a long time, but I was craving some home baked bread, so I garnered my courage, dug out my dear friend Kelly’s recipe and instructions and just did it. Kelly is a great teacher, so if you follow her directions, you’re bound to come up with something delicious!
I met Kelly in Flagstaff, Arizona, when I tutored her daughter in French. After our lessons concluded, we became good friends and I was sort of adopted into their family. Kelly and I would cook and bake together and when her daughter would join us, we would all practice French. They are some of the best memories I have and I’m incredibly lucky to have learned my baking techniques from such an inspirational woman.
This is one of Kelly's recipes from her time in Finland. This warm, comforting bread reminds me of a cold afternoon in Helsinki or Jyväskylä. It goes perfectly with coffee or even chili, if you can believe it!
2 ¼ t. yeast (+ ½ t. sugar, depending on the yeast you use)
1 Stick of butter
¾ C. milk
4-6 C. All purpose flour
½ C. Sugar
½ t. Salt
1 Scant T. Cardamom
Sugar & Slivered almonds for the top
Melt the butter and allow to cool. Mix the yeast with 4 T. hot water (temperature around 115). Set aside to “proof.” It will puff up and be foamy. (This will take 5-10 minutes). Mix 2 cups of the flour with the sugar, salt and cardamom. Scald the milk and after it has cooled slightly, add it to the flour mixture. Mix well, using a stand or hand mixer. Add the eggs and beat well. Add the yeast and combine until incorporated. Add the butter and mix well.
Slowly add the additional 2-2 ½ C. of flour, beating until the dough starts to pull away from the edge of the bowl and isn’t sticky. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, adding a bit of flour if the dough is too sticky. When the dough “talks back to you,” put it in a warm place to rise. A good place is your oven with the oven light on.
After approximately 2 hours, when the dough has risen, punch it down. Divide the dough in half. Form each half into a loaf as follows:
§ Divide into 3 pieces
§ Form each piece into a snake
§ Squeeze the tops of the 3 snakes together
§ Braid the snakes and pinch the bottom together
Put the loaves on parchment paper-lined baking sheets and allow to rise again for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 325. Brush the loaves with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar and slivered almonds. Bake for 20-25 minutes turning half way through until they are ever so lightly browned on top.