It’s that time of year again where people start thinking about Christmas. Well, people like me that is. And people who compete in Christmas bread competitions! Last year, I competed in such a competition as well but didn’t win anything. I’ve applied again and see if I have better luck this time around. I have gone with a Swedish theme, as I love the breads Swedes come up with during December. They are called “lussekatter” and are traditionally eaten during the feast of Saint Lucia. Usually they’re more swirly like these ones but I’ve gone with a plaited bread. It looks stunning but is very easy to do! I’ve also added a lovely crème pat and raisin filling to make it as festive as possible. The gorgeous yellow color is the result of adding saffran – an expensive spice to buy, but we’re allowed to go a little crazy with Christmas right? 🙂
Recipe Swedish Christmas Plaited Bread
|90||grams||unsalted butter, softened|
|350||grams||strong white bread flour|
|1||teaspoon||ground cardemom seeds|
|30||grams||egg (keep aside the rest for glaze)|
Filling & Topping:
|250||ml||lukewarm full-fat milk|
|70||grams||rum or cointreau soaked raisins (keep a few aside for topping)|
- For the dough: grind together the saffran and sugar. Mix into the milk together with the egg.
- Mix together flour, salt, sugar, yeast, softened butter and ground cardemom seeds in a bowl. Make sure the yeast doesn’t come into direct contact with the salt or sugar. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients with the machine (fitted with dough hook) running. Knead on setting 2 for about 9 minutes once the dough has come together. Shape dough into a ball and leave to proof in a bowl covered with cling film for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- For the filling: mix 2/3 of the milk with the seeds from the vanilla pod and half of the sugar in a saucepan. Mix rest of the milk and sugar, egg yolk and cornstarch in a bowl. Bring milk mixture to a boil, take off the heat and pour into the egg mixture while whisking. Pour back into the saucepan and bring to a boil while continuously mixing. Leave to simmer for about 30 seconds, then side aside to cool.
- Form the bread: knock the dough back. Roll out to a 30x40cm rectangle on baking parchment or a silpat mat. Spread the vanilla cream over the middle of the rectangle lengthwise. The width should be a little less than 1/3 of the total width. Scatter some raisins over the vanilla cream, make sure you leave a few for the topping.
- On either side, cut 2 cm strips diagonally.
- Plait the strips over the middle. If you’ve had to cut away a bit of dough, use it to make roses and leaves and place them on the bread.
- Leave the plait to proof for another 20 min. Preheat the oven to 190C.
- Glaze the bread with the leftover egg. Decorate with almond shavings and raisins.
- Bake bread for about 25-30 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack underneath a tea towel.