Maybe Scandinavian Coffee Bread

This recipe is from my Mom’s Breads From Betsy’s Kitchen – but it is not like any Scandinavian Coffee Bread Recipe I’ve been able to find on the interwebs. As well, I’m not sure where she got the recipe. So, until someone from Scandinavia verifies this recipe – I’m going to call it “Maybe Scandinavian Coffee Bread.”

UPDATE: I posted a note in the Broodbakken Facebook group (a community of mainly Dutch bakers) to see if any of them were familiar with a similar Scandinavian Coffee Bread recipe. Anita replied with a picture of Kwark Mokka recipe she found on Koken en bakken met Marion:

So, now I have proof my Mom wasn’t fibbing. But I kind of like the name Maybe Scandinavian Coffee Bread now.

So what’s a boy to do when there’s a snow day? Lock himself in his room and play Hearthstone all day? Nah, I’m not 13. For me, spending the morning in the kitchen while the snow falls gently out the back window, baking bread is the cat’s meow.

I’ve been wanting to make this bread for a while. I’m a sucker for strong coffee – especially strong coffee in bread. As I started getting the ingredients out, I realized that I was short a few key items. I had no milk or instant coffee (do people still use instant coffee?). Fortunately, I keep a pack of Death Wish Coffee beans in the freezer – and on a lark, I had bought a pouch of powdered milk a few months ago. Seriously.

I was raised in a family that used powdered milk regularly. If you’ve never used it, you simply can’t understand the smell memory associated with it. If my brother reads this post, I guarantee you he will have smell memories just reading the words “powdered milk.” My powdered milk memories are not very fond ones. Frankly, I would rather drink rehydrated platypus urine. So I really can’t explain why I bought this small pouch, but I’m thankful I did.

So, here are my actual substitutions: instead of a half cup of water, I used a half cup of strongly brewed Death Wish Coffee. The milk was a cup and a half of reconstituted powdered milk (blech). Instead of two tablespoons of instant coffee, I used two tablespoons of coffee flour (from Trader Joe’s).

The bread is topped with pearl sugar – or pärlsocker as they say in the frozen north. This part is kind of funny… the original recipe in my Mom’s book calls for pärlsucker (note the “U”). Wanting to learn a little more about this ingredient, I googled parlsucker. In the entire digital world – we’re talking several gazillion pages of words – there are only three pages on the internet with the world parlsucker. Two of those point to a 1988 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch featuring… you guessed it… my Mom. If not for my Mom’s misspelling, I’d have never found that article. Click here to read it.

The introduction from my Mom’s book reads: “This attractive, bittersweet braid is basted with a strong coffee mixture that produces a lovely dark crust. It is then sprinkled with bright-white, coarse sugar. The cardamom and nuts add an intriguing taste and texture.”

Maybe Scandinavian Coffee Bread

This recipe is from my Mom's Breads From Betsy's Kitchen - but it is not like any Scandinavian Bread Recipe I've been able to find on the interwebs. As well, I'm not sure where she got the recipe. So, until someone from Scandinavia verifies this recipe - I'm going to call it "Maybe Scandinavian Coffee Bread."

Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 2 braided loaves
Author Mark Oppenneer

Ingredients

  • 2 scant tablespoons (or 2 ¼-ounce packages) active dry yeast
  • ½ cup warm water about 110 degrees
  • cups warm milk about 110 degrees
  • ½ cup soft butter
  • ½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee
  • 4 large eggs beaten
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 6 to 7 cups unbleached flour
  • glaze - 3 tablespoons instant coffee stirred into 4 tablespoons water
  • pärlsocker or coarse sugar

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, stir yeast into water to soften. Add milk, butter, sugar, salt, coffee, eggs, cardamom, walnuts, and 3 cups flour. Beat vigorously for two minutes.
  2. Gradually add flour, ¼ cup at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl.
  3. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead, adding flour a little at a time, until you have a smooth, elastic dough.
  4. Put dough into an oiled bowl. Turn to coat the entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a tightly woven towel and let rise until doubled, about one hour.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide in sixths. Shape each piece of dough into a 20-inch strand. Lay three strands side-by-side on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Turn the baking sheet so the strands are facing lengthwise away from you. Starting in the center of the strands, place the right strand over the middle strand (the right strand has now become the middle strand), then the left strand over the middle, the right over the middle, left over the middle, etc. Continue this process until the strands are too short to braid. Pinch all ends together and tuck them under.
  6. To braid the other end of the loaf, turn the baking sheet around so that the unbraided portion is facing you. Place the middle strand over the right strand, then the middle strand over the left, middle over the right, middle over the left, etc., until the ends are too short to braid. Pinch all three ends together and tuck them under. Repeat with the remaining three strands. Cover with a tightly woven towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.
  7. About 10 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  8. Just before baking, brush each braid with the glaze and sprinkle with the coarse sugar.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the loaves reaches 190 degrees.
  10. Immediately remove bread from baking sheet and cool on a rack.

Recipe Notes

I always recommend braiding loaves from the middle. If you braid from one end to the other, invariably the loaf gets thinner as you braid. If you start in the center and braid to one end, turn the loaf and braid from the center to the other end, the loaf will be plump in the center and tapered to the ends of the loaf giving a balanced shape.

Note from my Mom: I always recommend braiding loaves from the middle. If you braid from one end to the other, invariably the loaf gets thinner as you braid. If you start in the center and braid to one end, turn the loaf and braid from the center to the other end, the loaf will be plump in the center and tapered to the ends of the loaf giving a balanced shape.

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