Yield: two 8-by-4-inch loaves
This is a not-too-sweet, cardamom-laced fruit bread based on the Swedish julbrod or Danish julekake loaves that are made in every household during the holidays. It is an egg bread that is rich yet chewy, and the dried blueberries that lace it remind me of the wild cloudberries that grow close to the Arctic Circle. Peel cardamom pods and crush the seeds in a mortar with a pestle for the most pronounced spice flavor and aroma. Serve for New Year's Day with hot spiced apple juice and wedges of cheddar cheese.
1/4 cup wheat berries
2 cups water
3/4 cup (4 ounces) dried blueberries
1/4 cup orange liqueur, such as
Grand Marnier or Mandarin Napoleon
1 tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast
Pinch of light brown sugar
1/2 cup warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees)
1/2 cup warm milk (105 degrees to 115 degrees)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
(or crushed seeds from about 20 cardamom pods)
2 teaspoons salt
About 4 cups unbleached all-purpose or bread flour
1 egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon of water, for glaze
1/3 cup silvered or sliced almonds
2 tablespoons sugar mixed with
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom, for topping
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the wheat berries and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let the berries soak for 1 hour. Return to a boil, immediately reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. Add more water as needed to keep the berries covered. Drain and set aside to cool. You should have about 3/4 cup. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the dried blueberries and the orange liqueur. Macerate about 1 hour.
2. In a large bowl with a whisk or in the work bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sprinkle the yeast and the pinch of brown sugar over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
3. Stir in the cooled wheat berries, warm milk, eggs, the l/2 cup brown sugar, butter, oil, cardamom, salt, and 1 cup of the flour. Beat hard until smooth, about 1 minute. Stir in the macerated blueberries and liqueur and the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough is formed that just clears the sides of the bowl, switching to a wooden spoon as necessary if making by hand.
4. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and springy, about 3 minutes, adding only 1 tablespoon flour at a time as necessary to prevent sticking. The dough will have a nubby, tacky quality due to the whole grains. Place in a greased deep container, turn once to coat the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
5. Turn out the dough onto the work surface and divide into 2 equal portions. Form into rectangular loaves and place in two 8-by-4-inch greased loaf pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until the dough is about 1 inch above the rims of the pan, about 40 minutes. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
6 . Using a serrated knife cut the tops decoratively, first lengthwise down the center, and then with 4 or 5 diagonal slits on either side of the central slash. The cuts should be no more than 1/4 inch deep. Brush the tops with the egg white glaze and sprinkle each with the almonds and sugar mixture. Bake in the preheated oven until the loaves are browned and sound hollow when tapped, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the pans immediately to racks to cool completely before slicing.
Bread For All Seasons
By Beth Hensperger
Photography by Victoria Pearson
168 pages with 28 Full-Color Photographs
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created December 1998; modified November 2006
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