Swedish Coffee Bread

  • Serves

    makes 1 braided loaf


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 14 cups warm milk
  • 12 cup melted butter, plus additional for greasing bowl
  • 4 cups flour
  • 34 cup sugar, plus 2 tbsp. for topping
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten


Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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.)

Step 4

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.

Step 5

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.

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