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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.