Monday, December 10, 2007

countdown to christmas - day ten

Today is my grandma's birthday. She would have been 87.

I have been thinking about Nana a lot lately. During Saturday's Open House, I couldn't help but think how much she would've liked to see all the crafts I've been creating. She would have wanted to examine each and every one. And, as I think about the photos that Mandi took of Dan and me decorating our tree, I know that Nana would have delighted in looking through all the different shots.

But, more than anything, Christmas reminds me of baking with Nana. So often we would spend a day together making Swedish cardamom bread - a recipe that I never tackled without her. I long for one of those baking days and miss having her here to teach us the intricacies of yeast breads and Swedish recipes.

I hope to create a new tradition, making this bread in some form or another. I think it will make the Christmas season seem a little more complete , and it certainly would have made Nana very proud.

SWEDISH CARDAMOM BREAD from Vi Anderson

Ingredients:
2 yeast cakes (dry)
2 cups milk, scalded
1/2 cup butter
1 1 /4 tsp. salt
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
8 cups flour (approximate)
5-6 cardamom seeds, ground

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water, with a bit of sugar. Let stand. In a pan, mix the milk, butter, salt, and sugar...to scalding. When lukewarm, add eggs, yeast, cardamom seeds, and enough sifted flour to make a soft sponge. Mix completely. Knead until smooth and elastic. Set in a warm place to rise until double in bulk. Then knead again and let rise until light. Then, divide into 3 parts and then again into 3 parts each. Knead and roll 9-inch strips and braid 3 strips together to make a loaf. The strips will make 3 loaves. Place the braided dough in bread tins, and let the dough rise in the tins. Then, sprinkle a cinnamon/sugar combination on top of the loaves. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Bread should be well done and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

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