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Scandinavian Cardamom Bread (Pulla)

2 1/2 cups milk
1 egg, beaten
1 (3-pack) dry yeast (use all three)
1 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar (or less depending on taste)
1 tbsp. crushed cardamom
1 stick butter, very soft
7 1/4 cups all purpose flour (approximately)

Warm milk on stove a little hotter than lukewarm. While milk is
warming, add to large mixing bowl: sugar, salt, half of your egg
(use other half for brushing bread later), and cardamom. Add milk
to this bowl and stir together. When mixture is lukewarm, add
yeast and stir to dissolve. Add about half the flour and then mix
your stick of butter in with the flour mixture. Add other half of
flour and mix together until dough looks ready. It will still be
slightly sticky. Knead for 10 minutes either by hand or mixer.
After kneading, cover bowl with dish towel and let rise for 1 hour.

Use a scraper to pull dough out onto floured table. (Use as little
flour as possible on table unless dough is real sticky and just
needs more). Gather dough from sides and pull to center to shape
into a round loaf. Turn it over to make the seam go underneath.
Roll into a French bread shape and cut into 3 equal pieces.

To Make Braids: Take one section and cut into three equal pieces.
Roll into long strands that you will braid together. Try to keep
the strands uniform in size as it will look better when finished.
The strands should be about 15 inches long. Take all three strands
side by side and pinch the tops together to start the braid. Braid
strand. You can cut off ugly ends and tuck them under to look
prettier. Place on greased pan. (I usually put two braids side
by side on a bread pan). Cover with cloth and let rise approx. 15
minutes before baking. Right before baking, brush loaves with your
leftover egg. Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 25 minutes. Watch
carefully as this bread burns on the bottom easily.

To Make Buns: Take the last piece of dough and pull off pieces a
little bigger than golf ball size. Roll into a ball and place on
a greased cookie sheet. Let rise for 15 minutes. About 5 minutes
before baking, take your thumb and make an indentation in the middle
of each bun. Place a small piece of butter in the middle of each
bun. Brush buns with egg and sprinkle a little bit of sugar around
the center of the bun. Try to keep the sugar off of your pan as
it will cause burnt black sugar rings on the bottom of the bread.
Bake at 375 degrees for approx. 14 minutes (depending on the size
of the buns it may take a little longer or shorter time).


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