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Swedish Cardamom Twist

Because this recipe uses quick-rise yeast, early birds can put together this fragrant bread before their guests arrive, pop it into the oven just as the doorbell starts to ring and then serve it warm. The bread is delicious served on its own or with butter and jam. Because the loaf is so handsome when it comes out of the oven, serve it whole and let guests cut the slices themselves.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup milk 
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature  
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • Seeds from 10 cardamom pods, crushed 
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting 
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 1 package (2 1/4 tsp.) quick-rise yeast 
  • Canola oil for bowl 
  •   

For the filling: 

  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon 
  •   
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tsp. water 

Directions:

In a saucepan over low heat, combine the milk, butter, water and cardamom seeds and heat until warm (105° to 115°F).

To make the dough by hand, in a bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour, the salt, sugar and yeast. Using a spoon, beat in the warm milk mixture until smooth. Gradually beat in 1 1/2 cups of the flour to make a soft dough that holds its shape. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead, adding the remaining flour as needed, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

To make the dough with an electric mixer, in the 5-quart bowl of a stand mixer, combine 1 cup of the flour, the salt, sugar and yeast. Place the bowl on the mixer, attach the dough hook and gradually beat in the warm milk mixture on low speed. Gradually beat in 1 1/2 cups of the flour to make a soft dough that holds its shape. Knead with the dough hook, adding the remaining flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, 6 to 7 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball, transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat with the oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the filling: In a small bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and cinnamon.

Dust a rimmed baking sheet with flour. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Form into a ball and knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Let rest for 10 minutes. Roll out the dough into a 9-by-12-inch rectangle. Spread the filling evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch plain border on all sides. Starting at the long side farthest from you, roll up the rectangle toward you into a log. Place the roll, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet.

Using scissors and cutting at an angle, snip the roll at 1/2-inch intervals, cutting almost halfway through. Pull and push the snipped sections of dough alternately to the left and right, twisting each section slightly to expose the spiral inside. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat an oven to 375°F.

Brush the loaf with the egg yolk mixture. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and let cool. The loaf can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Makes 1 loaf.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch, by Georgeanne Brennan, Elinor Klivans, Jordan Mackay and Charles Pierce (Oxmoor House, 2007).