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Finnish Nisu

2 pkgs. active dry yeast
3/4 c. warm water
13 oz can undiluted evaporated milk, heated to 110 degrees F
1/2 to 1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon or more crushed cardamom seeds
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup softened butter
8 to 9 cups all purpose flour
egg mixed with milk for glaze
pearl sugar, sliced almonds or plain sugar for decoration

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Stir in the milk, sugar,
salt, cardamom, eggs and enough flour to make a batter (about 2
cups). beat until dough is smooth and elastic. Add about 3 cups
of flour and beat well. Dough should be smooth and glossy in
appearance. Add remaining flour 1 cup at a time until dough is
stiff. Add the butter; beat until dough looks glossy again. Turn
out onto floured board, cover with inverted mixing bowl. Let rest
for 15 minutes. Knead until smooth and satiny. Place in a lightly
greased bowl, turn dough to grease top, cover lightly and let rise
in warm place (about 85 degrees F) until doubled.

Punch down; let rise again. Turn out onto a lightly floured board,
divide into 3 parts, and divide each part into three. Shape each
piece of dough into a strip 16 inches long by rolling between palms
and board. Braid 3 strips together into a straight loaf and pinch
the ends together and tuck under. Repeat for second and third
loaves. Place on lightly greased baking sheets. Let rise until
puffy (1/2 to 1 hour). Glaze loaves with a mixture of beaten egg
and milk. Sprinkle with pearl sugar, crushed loaf sugar (sugar
cubes) and or sliced almonds. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
Do not overbake or loaves will be dry. Makes 3 loaves.


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