This Sunday, I decided that I wanted to make some sweet bread and this Finnish Coffee Braid has been on my radar for some time. It's made special by the additions of orange and cardamom as well as the fact that it's formed into a pretty braided ring and bakes up all golden and shiny. Who wouldn't like to wake up to this in the morning?
To save time, I always start the dough the night before and leave it in the fridge to cold rise until the next morning. Yup, extra sleep on a Sunday morning is always a welcome thing. That way, the only thing left to do is set it up for a second rise and then bake it.
Lately, the mornings have been getting colder making it more difficult to get bread to rise in the house. So, I've come up with a couple of tricks. One way is to preheat your oven on the lowest temperature and then put the dough in there. You can choose to either turn the oven off or keep it on. Either way will be alright. The other method I use is to put it into my car. I kid you not. Since the car is parked outside, the sun heats up the inside and makes a perfect place for the dough to rise.
Once it gets all nice and puffy, simply glaze it with some egg yolk and milk and pop it into your oven. Yeah, about that glazing step . . . after it had already been baking in the oven for 10 min., I suddenly remembered that I hadn't glazed it. So, I quickly rushed to the oven and pulled it out. Memo to me: panicking while holding a 350F metal cookie sheet is NOT a good idea. Without thinking, my unprotected hand touched the sheet resulting in a small burn. That'll teach me to calm down next time.
Glaze - check. Back into the oven where it turned a lovely shiny golden brown and this incredible orange-y smell began to permeate the kitchen. The finished bread was wonderful. My braid didn't exactly come out perfect (it kinda became misshapen as it baked), but that didn't affect the taste one bit. All that yummy orange flavor in every bite of soft, sweet bread was simply delicious. This bread is a feast for the eyes and for the palate.
Finnish Coffee Braid (Sweet Jumbles)
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
3 Tbsp. warm water
1 c. milk
6 Tbsp. butter, cut into pieces
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c. sugar (I increased this to 2/3 cup)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cardamom (I doubled this to 1 tsp.)
grated peel of one orange (I doubled the amount of zest)
5 c. all-purpose flour
Glaze: 1 egg yolk + 1 Tbsp. milk (or water)
Combine yeast and warm water with a pinch of sugar and let sit 5 min. until foamy.
Place milk and butter in a saucepan (or microwave safe bowl) and heat until butter is melted and milk is hot but does not boil. Cool to lukewarm.
Add eggs and milk/butter mixture to the yeast. Add sugar, salt, cardamom, and orange zest, stirring to combine. Gradually add the flour to make a stiff dough (I probably used 4-4 1/2 cups).
Turn dough out to a well-floured surface and knead until smooth.
Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1-2 hours.
Punch down and divide into two portions, then divide each portion into three pieces. Form each third into a rope about 18-24 inches long. Braid the ropes, pinching the ends to form them into rings.
Place each ring onto a greased baking sheet, cover, and let rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350F. Brush each loaf with the glaze and bake 35 min. or until golden. Cool on wire racks.
- I didn't have any milk so I used 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt mixed with 1/4 c. water to make it into a liquid.
- I increased the sugar and doubled the cardamom and orange zest in the recipe. I highly recommend doing so as it made for a very flavorful bread.
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