This sweet bread from Finland is delicious sliced and toasted with plum marmalade and cheeses, like cottage cheese, brie, or aged cheese. Perfect for the holidays or just a comfortable weekend at home.
Recipes by Elizabeth Johansson + Photos by Susanna Blåvarg
The smörgåsbord tradition originated in Sweden in the 16th century and has since become a holiday custom across the Nordics. “Smörgåsbord” means “sandwich table,” but has come to mean a buffet with a variety of hot and cold dishes, desserts, and spirits, like schnapps, brännvin, and akvavit. These recipes make for a contemporary smörgåsbord with traditional Nordic winter flavors.
MAKES 2 LOAVES
2 ounces yeast
31⁄2 ounces butter
2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cardamom seeds, ground in a mortar
1 cup rye flakes
6 to 7 cups wheat flour 1 egg for brushing
rye flakes to sprinkle on top
- Heat the oven to 390°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Crumble the yeast in a large mixing bowl.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the milk. Heat until 98°F.
- Pour the liquid over the yeast. Mix in sugar, salt, and eggs.
- Add cardamom, rye flakes, and a bit of the flour at a time to make a smooth dough (save a little flour for the baking).
- Let dough rise under a towel for about 30 minutes.
- Halve the dough and cut each half into 14 pieces.
- With the dough from one half, shape 12 of the pieces into rolls, 1⁄8 -inch thick and 12 inches long. Roll the last 2 pieces into one round ball.
- Stick 3 rolls together lengthwise 4 times, so that you have 4 dough pieces with 3 strands each. Place the pieces in an overlapping cross (like in the picture). Next place 4 of the strands so that they overlap counter-clockwise, and then overlap the ends clockwise.
- Place the round ball on the prepared baking sheet. Place the braided dough cross on top and tuck in the edges.
- Repeat steps 8, 9, and 10 with the remaining dough to make a second loaf.
- Cover with both loaves with a towel, and let rise for another 30 minutes.
- Whisk the egg with a fork. Brush the breads with egg and sprinkle with rye flakes.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for about 25 minutes. Keep an eye on the bread for the last few minutes, and take it out when it has a nice golden brown color.
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