The recipe for this sweet bread came from Sweden (via Finland) to New Jersey in the 19th century. It is great fresh, but even better toasted and served with butter.
- (1) 7 gram packet active dry yeast
- 1 1⁄4 cups warm milk
- 1⁄2 cup melted butter, plus additional for greasing bowl
- 4 cups flour
- 3⁄4 cup sugar, plus 2 tbsp. for topping
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
Dissolve yeast in 1⁄2 cup of the warm milk in a small bowl. Set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in butter and remaining 3⁄4 cup milk, then transfer mixture to a large bowl.
Combine flour, 3⁄4 cup of the sugar, salt, and cardamom in another bowl, then gradually add to yeast mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon. When dough becomes too stiff to stir, turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead just until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
Form dough into a ball, then place in a well-greased bowl, and cover with a clean dish towel. Set aside in a warm place to rise until increased in volume by one-third, about 3 hours. (This is a dense dough, and it may not rise as much as expected at this stage. Do not worry. Press a finger into the middle and if the depression remains, it has risen sufficiently. It will continue to rise in the oven.)
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 3 parts and roll into 3 ropes, about 16" long. Line up ropes and braid tightly, then place on a cookie sheet, cover with a clean dish towel, and set aside in a warm place to rise for 1 hour more.
Preheat oven to 350°. Brush loaf with egg and sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp. sugar. Bake until golden brown, 30–40 minutes. Allow to cool completely.