We’re back! KP and I just returned to Minnesota, having just completed marathon #22 in Missoula, Montana. The night before we left Seattle to run this race, I baked this amazing loaf and brought a nice chunk along for carbo loading.
Finnish Sweet Cardamom Raisin Bread
Adapted from Gourmet via epicurious.com
1 cup raisins (I used currants because I insist that raisins are too big and off putting with their texture)
1/4 cup warm water (105-115°F)
1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
5 cups all-purpose flour (I used more than 4 cups whole wheat)
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cups warm whole milk (105-115°F)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten with
1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Soak raisins in hot tap water to cover until plump, about 20 minutes, then drain.
Meanwhile, stir together warm water, yeast, and a pinch of sugar in a small bowl. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If yeast doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast.)
Stir together flour, sugar, cardamom, and salt in a large bowl, then blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in milk, whole egg, and yeast mixture with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead, dusting surface and hands with just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.
Pat dough into a 9-inch square and sprinkle with raisins. Fold dough over to enclose raisins and pinch edges to seal. Knead, dusting surface and hands lightly with flour, until raisins are distributed. (Dough will be lumpy and slightly sticky; if any raisins pop out, just push them back in—this step I forgot completely, and tried to sprinkle the currants on top before I baked it. Bad idea, burnt the currants to little charcoal crisps. Next time will try to remember to incorporate into the bread 🙂 Form dough into a ball.
Put dough in a buttered large bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Punch down dough (do not knead), then halve. Cut each half into thirds and roll each piece into a 15-inch rope. Braid together 3 ropes to form a loaf, then transfer to a parchment-lined large baking sheet, tucking ends under.
Make another loaf with remaining 3 ropes (I just made one giant loaf), arranging loaves 4 inches apart. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Brush loaves with egg wash and bake until golden brown and bottoms sound hollow when tapped, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
The bread was SO GOOD, as was the Missoula marathon course. KP made me laugh by reminding me of the very apt Dumb and Dumber quotation that certainly applied in unexpectedly flat Missoula, “Thought the Rocky Mountains would be rockier than this. That John Denver is full of sh*t.”
Also, notice the awesome KP custom-made T-shirt I’m wearing: “Do these shorts make my Butte look big?” Very happy there were so few hills on the marathon course so my Butte can stay the pleasant size it is…