Swedish Vetebröd (Cardamom Bread)

I’m part Swedish (along with a dozen or so other nationalities). And I work at a very Swedish place. And my little sisters visited Sweden just last summer. And this blog is named after a Swedish delicacy.

But before this weekend, I had never once in my life baked with cardamom, a spice essential to Swedish baked goods.

Heresy!

Cardamom has a distinct taste that’s difficult to describe. To me it smells almost piney, but with a warm sweetness. It’s equally delightful in Scandinavian baking and Indian curries, demonstrating quite the versatility.

I first tried cardamom bread at a staff meeting a few weeks ago, and I was instantly hooked. I knew I wanted to try my hand at making it, mostly to get in touch with my heritage and/or make my belly happy. The braiding looks complicated, but it’s really quiet simple and turns out an elegant loaf. Gabe was unsure of the cardamom taste at first, but after three bites he proclaimed himself a fan.

So I invite you to add this to your holiday baking repertoire, regardless of national heritage. A warm, sweet bread is a welcome reprieve from the rich food and sugar bombs cookies that seem to be everywhere this time of year.

Swedish Vetebröd (Cardamom Bread)

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Swedish Vetebröd (Cardamom Bread)

  • 2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, lukewarm
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • sugar and sliced almonds, for sprinkling (optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together yeast, 2 cups flour, and 1/4 cup sugar. Slowly add milk and stir until it’s almost smooth. The dough will be the consistency of a sticky cake batter. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 45-60 minutes.

Stir in remaining 1/4 cup sugar, butter, salt, and cardamom. Switch the paddle attachment for a dough hook and add the remaining 2 cups flour. Knead until smooth. (You might have to finish the kneading on a floured surface for a few minutes.) Place dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise again until doubled, 45-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Now it’s slicing and braiding time! (Scroll to the bottom of this post for detailed pictures.) Turn out dough onto a floured surface and divide into two even pieces. Roll each piece into a rectangle, about 9×12 inches and 1/4-inch thick. Gently cut two score lines– 12 inches long– to divide the dough into three sections. Don’t cut all the way through; these lines will just be a guide. Now cut one-inch thick perpendicular strips from one outside edge of the dough up to the nearest score line. It’ll sort of look like fringe. Repeat on the other side, using the same number of cuts.

Starting at one end, fold a strip diagonally across the middle section of dough until it reaches the other score line. Grab a strip of dough from the other side and fold it over the strip you just folded, again diagonally to the other score line. Continue braiding, alternating sides. Once you’ve reached the end of the braid, tuck the last two strips under each other.

Place dough on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and brush with beaten egg. Sprinkle with sugar and almonds, if using. Let rest for another 20 minutes. Bake at 350° F for 30 minutes, covering with foil during the baking period if the top starts to brown too much. Let cool slightly, then slice and serve. It’s even better with a pat of salted butter melting on top.

Source: Slightly adapted from This Week for Dinner.

 Braiding Instructions for Vetebröd

Turn out dough onto a floured surface and divide into two even pieces. Roll each piece into a rectangle, about 9×12 inches and 1/4-inch thick. Gently cut two score lines– 12 inches long– to divide the dough into three sections.

Braiding Vetebröd (Cardamom Bread)

Now cut one-inch thick perpendicular strips from one outside edge of the dough up to the nearest score line. It’ll sort of look like fringe. Repeat on the other side, using the same number of cuts.

Braiding Vetebröd (Cardamom Bread)

Starting at one end, fold a strip diagonally across the middle section of dough until it reaches the other score line.

Braiding Vetebröd (Cardamom Bread)

Grab a strip of dough from the other side and fold it over the strip you just folded, again diagonally to the other score line.

Braiding Vetebröd (Cardamom Bread)

Continue braiding, alternating sides.

Braiding Vetebröd (Cardamom Bread)

Once you’ve reached the end of the braid, tuck the last two strips under each other. Voila! Ain’t it purty?

Braiding Vetebröd (Cardamom Bread)

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11 thoughts on “Swedish Vetebröd (Cardamom Bread)

  1. The finished product is beautiful & it looks like fun to make! Makes me want to try braiding. I’ve cooked with cardamom before, but the recipe took so little that I think the spice lost it’s potency before I ever used it again!

    • Thanks! This was a fun recipe to try. Yeah, a little goes a long way with cardamom, that’s for sure. I have plenty more if you want any!

  2. Pingback: Homemade Naan | Lingonberry Jam

  3. hi! thank you for sharing this delicious bread, i was wondering if i could use fresh yeast instead of dry one, could you be so kind…. please and let me know.

  4. I am short on time but big on making dough in my bread machine. It cranks out my challah dough, ready to be braided, every Friday. Any thoughts on how to make this bread machine friendly? Thanks! It looks delicious.

  5. Was very tasty! Just like I remember from when I was a kid, and my family bought from the Swedish bakery in Chicago. Thank you for posting this recipe!

    I have a family recipe that calls for doing most of the kneading by hand so I was excited to see this recipe call for dough hooks. I have never used my mixer for this before. So that’s what those things are for!

    I followed your recipe. Except I used dry active yeast instead of instant yeast, because that’s all I had. It took much longer for the dough to rise, but it was worth the wait. I covered the dough with a hot towel and put the mixing bowl in the oven at the lowest setting possible. Took more than an hour to rise. I am excited to bring some to work tomorrow for others to try.

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