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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cardamom Braid

Have you ever used cardamom in your baking?  I had never really heard of it until Alice, my mother-in-law added it to a coffee cake batter and it was the incredible aroma that got my attention!  Remember back to the November 14th when I talked about her being a first generation Swede?  Cardamom is used widely in baked goods in Scandinavian countries so, she came by this naturally as her mother and Aunt Ida did a lot of baking. 

India is cardamom’s native country with the green pod being used extensively in cooking there instead of ground cardamom.  It has a unique savory, slightly sweet spicy flavor and approximately 8 to 16 seeds are encased in a pod.  Cardamom loses its natural oils quickly, so only ground what you need for the recipe.  Next to saffron, it is one of the most expensive spices; therefore, you do not want to buy ground cardamom and let it set in the cabinet.   

It’s a pain to grind your own, but the boon is the amazing aroma and taste!  You can buy whole green cardamom pods or buy whole cardamom seeds, which is what I do.  If you buy the pods, place them on your cutting board and smash to crack them open.  Gather the seeds and grind them in a spice grinder.  I use a coffee mill myself, for grinding spices instead of coffee beans.  Grind the seeds for a few seconds and you won’t believe the slightly pungent aroma!  The seeds can also be crushed between two spoons.  A tablespoon of pods yields about 2 teaspoons of ground cardamom.   

Cardamom Pods

Whole Cardamom Seeds
Photo credit ~ Denzil Green

Ground Cardamom
Photo credit ~ Denzil Green

Cardamom Braid


1 tablespoon active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
½  cup sugar
¾ cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon salt
½ to 1 teaspoon crushed cardamom seeds or ground cardamom
4 ½ cups bread flour
¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 beaten egg for glaze
Coarse sugar or 1 teaspoon granulated sugar for sprinkling (optional)


Mix yeast, warm water and 1/2 teaspoon sugar until yeast dissolves. Set aside.

Heat milk in a saucepan over low heat until small bubbles appear along the edges. Cool to about 120F. Add beaten eggs, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, salt, cardamom and 3 cups flour. Beat well. Add butter; beat well. Add yeast mixture. Add remaining 11/2 cups flour in three additions, mixing well after each addition, until dough has a soft to medium consistency.

Knead on a lightly floured surface or with a mixer fitted with dough hooks until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding as little additional flour as possible.

Place dough in an oiled bowl, turning to coat top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled, 1 to 2 hours. Punch down dough and let rise again until almost doubled, about 1 hour.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and divide into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope. Braid 3 ropes together to form a loaf. Repeat with remaining 3 ropes. Place loaves on a greased baking sheet or in greased 81/2 x 41/2-inch loaf pans. Cover with a cloth and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Brush loaves with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar, if desired. Bake 25 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottom. Invert from pan and cool on wire rack.
Makes 2 loaves.

Wonderful!  Fragrant and yummy!


  1. Love cardamon, but usually just have it in Chai. Thanks for visiting me this morning at Delights of the Heart.

  2. you know, i'm seeing cardamom popping up more and more, and i'm glad! i'm familiar with it because, like marilyn, i love chai, but i most recently had it in a beef entree. great post!

  3. I love cooking with cardamon-I adore the scent.

  4. Thanks, to all of you! I'm so glad there are so many cardamom lovers!


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