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Finnish Coffee Bread (Nisu)

1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
4 oz. butter or margarine
2 pounds (approx.) flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon yeast
2 cups lukewarm milk
chopped blanched almonds or sugar

Beat up the egg and sugar. Add the lukewarm milk, the yeast (stirred
in a coffee cup with the salt), and then sufficient flour to make
a stiff, gruel-like mixture. This is worked until it becomes smooth
and elastic, and only then is the rest of the flour added together
with the butter--either melted or beaten to a foam. Knead the
mixture into a pliable dough, cover with a baking cloth, and leave
in a warm but not hot place to rise. When the dough has doubled
its bulk, knead it on a table and shape it into small rounds or
into long plaits made from ropes of even thickness. Lay these on
a baking sheet and leave to rise again. Now brush the bread with
egg and sprinkle either with chopped blanched almonds or sugar.
Bake in a hot oven--the long plaits for about twenty minutes in a
moderate oven and the small rounds for about seven minutes in a
hot oven. When cooked, lift onto baking wire or table and leave
to cool under a baking cloth.

Serve with tea or coffee. These are the most usual types of coffee
bread in Finland.

I think the most common form of nisu is braided--it's very attractive
when it's sprinkled with sugar and almonds. I'm assuming that a
moderate oven is 350-degrees. It's also very delicious if you add
some cardamom--Finns love cardamom!


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