Alright, so this is really last minute even for me!! This is my entry for think spice - cardamom, hosted by Easycrafts. I actually had this in my drafts and hadn't been able to get around to posting it until now.
This bread is a yeast bread that I would say is similar in texture to challah, but not as rich. I added dried cranberries for a sweet-tangy bite to the bread. We actually loved the taste of the cranberries augmented by the tantalizing aroma of cardamom! This is great with tea, buttered or not. Tastes wonderful warm and leftovers make killer french toast!!
If you're one of the people who's intimidated to use yeast, you really shouldn't be at all! Just be a little careful and soon you'll be confident. I'm still working on it and was pleasantly surprised at how good this came out! This recipe might seem like it has a lot of steps, but the only thing required is a bit of patience. It's truly not that complicated.
I used 3/4 cup of dried cranberries and we found ourselves wanting a bit more, so if you're like us, you'll probably want to increase the amount to 1 cup. I wrote the recipe as I made it, but will probably increase the amount of cranberries next time! :)
Yeast - 1 package (2 1/4 tsp)
Warm water - 3/4 c (120-130 F)
Warm milk - 3/4 cup (120-130 F)
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Butter - 1/4 cup, softened
Egg - 1 (optional, but adds richness)
Cardamom powder - 1 1/2 tsp, freshly ground preferred
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Dried cranberries - 3/4 cup
White whole wheat flour (or bread flour) - 2 cups
Bread flour - 2 to 2 1/2 cups
Granulated sugar to sprinkle over the top - 1 tbsp, optional
Egg wash - 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp of water, optional
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the white whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cups of bread flour, salt, sugar, cardamom and yeast. Use paddle attachment to mix well.
2. Now, add the warm milk, warm water, and egg. Beat until smooth. Switch to a dough hook and let the mixer knead the dough, adding 1/2 to 1 cup of bread flour as needed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Don't worry if it's a little sticky. Just make sure not to add to much flour and make the dough too dry which would result in a coarsely textured loaf!!
3. Oil a bowl and place the kneaded dough in the bowl. Alternatively, you can leave the dough in the bowl of the mixer itself, but just oil the bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and/or plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place until it's doubled in bulk, about 1 1/4 hrs. I find that my oven which has a pilot light on works best for this.
4. Now, remove the dough from the bowl and place on a floured work surface. Fold the dough gently over itself a few times to deflate it. Pour the cranberries on the work surface and knead them into the dough by hand. Cover the dough and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes before shaping. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
5. At this point, I chose to make a braided loaf the easy way. You could just as well shape it into a loaf and bake it if you don't feel like braiding! For the braid, I divided the dough into 3 roughly equal pieces and braided the pieces like you braid your hair. Pinch the ends to seal them and tuck them underneath the surface.
6. Again, cover the dough and allow it to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This takes about 45 minutes. I find that my kitchen counter works pretty well at this point.
7. Once the dough has risen sufficiently, remove the cover. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar, if desired. Bake at 375 F for 40-45 minutes, or until an internal read thermometer reads 190 F. Cover loosely with aluminum foil after 25 minutes if the top seems to brown too quickly.
Enjoy with tea and use leftovers for French toast or bread pudding!