Cardamom bread: a family tradition

Today, I am very excited to bring you my veganized version of a recipe that has been a part of my family’s Christmas for as long as I can remember. Beginning in mid-December, my mom bakes five or six batches of braided cardamom bread to give to nearby family and close friends as a Christmas gift. The bread is soft and sweet, with just the perfect amount of cardamom. It’s so good when it’s warm out of the oven that my mom has to budget a loaf for the family every time she bakes, and we all come running as soon as the bread has cooled enough to slice! Most of a loaf can easily disappear within 20 minutes. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

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Cardamom Braid

(Adapted from a recipe in Yankee Magazine.)

Makes 2 loaves.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c unsweetened almond milk
  • ¼ c + 1 Tbsp vegan margarine, divided
  • 1.5 Tbsp (2 packages; 14g) active dry yeast
  • ½ c (100g) granulated sugar
  • ½ c (120g) applesauce
  • ~4 ½ c (~630g) all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • ½ c raisins (optional)

Combine the milk and ¼ c margarine in a microwaveable container or small saucepan, and heat until the margarine is melted and the mixture feels warm but not hot to the touch on the inside of your wrist (110-115 degrees F).

Pour the warm milk mixture into a large bowl and stir in the yeast. Let sit until the yeast has formed puffy bubbles on the surface of the liquid, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the sugar and applesauce. Next, add about 1 ½ c flour, salt, and cardamom. Mix the dough well, then start adding additional flour until the dough is kneadable. Knead the dough, continuing to add small amounts of flour as needed until the dough is smooth and pliable but no longer sticky. If you would like to add raisins to the bread, knead them into the dough at this point.

Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set the dough to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled.

Remove the dough from the bowl and fold a couple of times to deflate. Divide the dough in half, and then divide each half into thirds. On a lightly floured surface, roll each of the six balls out into a rope about 1-1 ½” thick and about 12” long. Take three of the ropes and braid them together, tucking the loose ends underneath the braid. Repeat with the remaining three ropes.

Place the two braided loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently cover the loaves with a sheet of greased plastic wrap so the plastic doesn’t stick to the dough. Let rise 30-45 minutes, until puffy and approximately doubled in size. Near the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the remaining tablespoon of vegan margarine in the microwave or on the stovetop. Brush melted margarine over the braids and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake the loaves for about 22-25 minutes, or until the bottom is firm and sounds hollow when tapped and/or the bread has reached an internal temperature of 185-190 degrees F. Let cool a few minutes before slicing, if you can bear to wait!

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