Hooray!-- I have a new, better job, one in which I do NOT have to get up before dawn and pick fish bones out of piles of gravel. In celebration of this lucky turn of events, I baked some bread. This recipe was inspired in part by the fantastic cinnamon and cardamom rolls I made a few weeks ago, which I figured would translate well into bread form. I took a basic challah recipe, added cardamom to the dough, and rolled the ropes of dough in cinnamon before braiding to create these fragrant, slightly sweet loaves. Enjoy, and happy World Bread Day!
Update! See the roundup of World Bread Day '07 here at Kochtopf.
Cardamom Cinnamon Braids
Makes 2 braided loaves
1 1/4 c warm (around 110 degrees F) water
1 packet (1/4 oz) dry active yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/4 c honey
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp cardamom
4 1/2 - 5 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp milk
-Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water mixed with 1 tsp sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes, until yeast is foamy and active.
-Add remaining water, honey, butter, and cardamom. Stir to combine.
-Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until you get a sticky but workable dough. I used about 5 cups in total, but you may need more or less depending on a variety of factors like the type of flour you use, humidity, etc.
-Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Dough will be soft and smooth.
-Place dough in a large oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until nearly doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours**
-After dough has nearly doubled, gently deflate it and let it rise a second time, about 1 hour**.
-Preheat oven to 350 F.
-After 2nd rise, gently deflate dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Divide dough in half. Here, you have a choice - you can make 3- or 6-strand braids, and either bake them freeform or in a loaf pan. For a 3-strand braid, take one half of the dough and divide it further into 3 pieces. For a 6-strand braid, divide into 6 pieces.
-Roll each piece out into long strands. Sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon onto strands and rub with hands to coat the strands.
-Working with one half at a time, braid the loaves. For good instructions on how to braid a 6 strand loaf, see this video.
-Place braids on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Or, put in oiled loaf pan.
-Let rise for another 30 minutes or so, until almost (but not quite) doubled.
-Prepare egg wash: beat together egg and milk in a bowl. Brush over tops of loaves; sprinkle with coarse sugar.
-Bake 40-45 minutes, until bread is a deep brown.
-Remove from pan and cool completely on rack before slicing.
**This was how long the dough took to double in size when I made this bread, but it was was a pretty warm day. It may take your dough longer to proof depending on the temperature of your kitchen.