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Cardamom bread is a Scandinavian baked good that is primarily flavored with ground cardamom. Cardamom is a spice made from the dried pods and seeds of the cardamom plant and is closely related to ginger. Although the spice tends to be most commonly associated with Indian cuisine, it is also used in Scandinavian bread and dessert recipes.
The basic dry ingredients for a standard cardamom recipe generally consists of yeast, flour, and ground cardamom. These dry ingredients are usually combined with butter, eggs, milk, and sugar to form a thick bread dough with a sweet undertone. It is generally recommended to knead the dough just until the ingredients are combined and the dough is loosened enough to have an elastic texture. Handling the dough too much can cause the finished bread to have a tough, chewy texture instead of the tender texture that is usually desired. Once the dough is formed, it generally requires approximately one hour of sitting for it to fully rise before it can be shaped and baked.
Cardamom bread is often shaped into a variety of forms before it is baked. For simple, everyday occasions, the bread is often baked in a loaf pan or bundt pan and sliced before serving or the dough may be shaped into individual rolls or buns. Special occasions, especially holidays, tend to have bread that is braided for a more ornate, decorative look. The braided look is accomplished by dividing the dough into three sections and loosely interweaving them together before baking.
Due to the sweet flavor of cardamom bread, it is often served plain without any other accompaniments because the sugar and cardamom spice add a distinctive flavor. Plain versions of the bread are often served along with coffee or tea as a breakfast or snack item. When the bread is served as a dessert, it may be topped with a thin vanilla icing drizzled over the top or sprinkled with chopped nuts.
Cardamom bread may be eaten on its own, but it may also form the basis of other recipes. The distinctive ground cardamom and sugar may make the bread less suitable for savory recipes, such as sandwiches. Leftover pieces of the bread are often used in dishes that are meant to have a sweeter taste, such as French toast or bread pudding. Using leftover bread that is at least a day old makes gives it a slightly harder texture so it can withstand being covered in batters, custards, or other liquid bases without becoming soggy.