Makes 1 large round loaf
This classic light-textured Scandinavian loaf, flavored with orange zest, anise, and cardamom, is an all-purpose bread you will be glad to have on hand. It is especially delicious warm, with butter. It also makes excellent sandwiches, particularly with cheese and deli meats, and great toast.
I learned this recipe from Dorothy Crocker, whose uncle used to make the bread. "He always baked the bread free-form on a sheet, never in a loaf pan," Dorothy said. "I love the contrast of the crisp crust with the bread's soft insides," she added. However, Dorothy's uncle was secretive about his recipes, and it has taken Dorothy many years of experimenting to come up with this version, the closest yet to what she remembers eating as a child.
To make the dough, heat the water, molasses, and butter in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter is melted and the temperature registers between 120 degrees and 130 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the pan from the heat.
To mix the dough using a stand mixer, combine both flours and the yeast in the mixer bowl. Stir in the salt, orange zest, anise seeds, and cardamom. Add the hot liquid and stir with a wooden spoon to make a stiff dough. Let stand for 10 minutes, then attach the dough hook and knead on medium speed for 5 to 8 minutes until the dough is smooth, elastic, and still slightly sticky. It may just pull away from the side of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead briefly until smooth but just slightly tacky.
To mix the dough by hand, combine both flours and the yeast in a large bowl. Stir in the salt, orange zest, anise seeds, and cardamom. Add the hot liquid and stir with a wooden spoon to make a stiff dough. Let stand for 10 minutes, then lightly flour your work surface and scrape the dough onto it. Knead for about 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth, elastic, and still a bit sticky. Avoid the temptation to add more flour. The dough should be moist.
Wash and dry the bowl. Lightly coat it with vegetable oil or cooking spray. Shape the dough into a ball, place it into the bowl, and turn to coat all over. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. When you press a finger into the dough and remove it, the depression will remain.
Lightly flour your work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Pat gently to remove large air bubbles, and shape the dough into a smooth ball: cup your hands around the dough and rotate it on your work surface to develop the dough's surface tension. Pinch the underside of the dough firmly to seal. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking pan liner or coat it with cooking spray. Place the dough seam side down on the pan and cover loosely with a sheet of plastic wrap lightly coated with cooking spray. Let rise until not quite doubled in size, 30 to 45 minutes (see Note).
Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. When ready to bake, spritz the walls of the oven with water. Uncover the loaf, place the pan in the oven, and spritz the walls again with water. Immediately close the oven door and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the bread is well browned and sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf should read 200 degrees F. Cool the loaf completely on a wire rack, and cut the bread with a sharp serrated knife.
The bread keeps well at room temperature for several days. To freeze, place the cooled loaf in a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag and freeze for up to 2 weeks. Thaw the bread in its wrapping, then unwrap, set on a baking sheet, and refresh in a preheated 325 degrees F oven for 10 minutes.
If you have a baking stone, place the loaf seam side down onto a sheet of cooking parchment, cover it, and let it rise as directed above. As soon as you have shaped the dough, place the stone on an oven rack in the lower third position and turn the oven on to 450 degrees F. When ready to bake, spritz the walls of the oven with water, uncover the loaf, and slide it on its parchment onto a wooden baker's peel or an upturned cookie sheet. Slip the loaf and parchment onto the baking stone and close the oven door. In 2 minutes, spritz the walls of the oven again with water. Bake for 25 minutes or so, until the loaf tests done.
This page created March 2008
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