Cinnamon and Cardamom Bread

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This stuff is amazing!  Love!

We just returned from a family vacation to New Orleans.  The land of great food, really wonderful music everywhere, and a plentitude of adult beverages.  And people watching.  We enjoyed poboys, gumbo, oysters, shrimp, catfish and, of course, beignets.  As good as our food was, whenever I get home from a vacation I actually kind of enjoy eating my own cooking again.  Funny how that works.

I had some organic milk in the refrigerator that was going to go south in just a day or so and I wanted to put it to good use.  I decided to make us some bread with my remaining milk and came across this recipe that I had clipped from a Saveur magazine early last year but had not tried.  Until today.  The recipe says the bread is Swedish.  But since I’m Finnish, today it is Finnish Cinnamon Cardamom Bread.  Whatever your ethnicity I think you will enjoy!  The kitchen smelled wonderful while this was baking.

Ingredients for the Dough:

7 T unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups whole milk heated to 115

2 tsp active dry yeast

4 1/2 cups AP flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds, lightly crushed

1/4 tsp kosher salt

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Ingredients for Filling:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

7 T unsalted butter softened

1 T ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds, finely crushed

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To make the dough heat the milk to 115 degrees.  Use a thermometer unless you’re a lot better than I am at estimating temperatures and you don’t want to kill your yeast.  Melt the butter and add the butter and yeast to the warm milk.  Stir and let it sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.

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In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, cardamom and salt.  Stir in the yeast mixture until dough forms.

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Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes.  Or knead in your stand mixer.  Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean dish towel, and let sit in a warm place until the dough doubles in size.  About an hour.

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Prepare the filling stirring together the softened butter, sugar, cinnamon and cardamom seeds.

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On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into approximately a 11×17 rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick.

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Spread the filling over the dough.

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Working from one of the long sides, roll dough into a tight cylinder and transfer the dough to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Cover with a dish towel and allow it to sit in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.  About 45-60 minutes.

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Heat the oven to 375.  Using kitchen shears and starting 1 inch from the ends of the dough, make crosswise cuts spaced 1 inch apart, three quarters of the way through the dough.  Now this is where it got tricky for me and my bread looks a little crude.  The recipe says to fan dough slices away from the center, alternating left to right.  Huh?  The center?  Maybe I was supposed to make this into a circle?  I don’t know for sure because I didn’t have a picture.  But it doesn’t really matter. The fanning does not affect the taste at all.

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Whisk an egg and brush the dough with the egg wash.

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Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Allow the bread to cool before serving.

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I made up a little icing with powdered sugar, heavy cream and lemon zest.  Because we like icing.

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Cut yourself a slice and enjoy.  Great with a hot cup of coffee or tea.

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NOTE:  The recipe suggests that you use the egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar before baking.  Since I was going to ice the bread I did not you the pearl sugar but you may prefer that.  If any of you bake a more attractive loaf please comment with a picture.

Sugar and Cinnamon Glazed Nuts

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My friend Georgia and I have gotten together in December for a baking marathon for over 30 years.  We have several cookies and candies that are staples each year.  Friends and family  have their favorites and we try to keep everyone happy.  But we also like to change things up a little.  Try something new.  This year we decided to omit one of our standard cookies (thumb prints) and make these candied nuts.  We are both very glad that we did!  They are easy to make and the house smells amazing while they’re in the oven.

Ingredients:

2 pounds of nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews)

2/3 cups of melted butter

2 cups sugar

3 T cinnamon

2 tsp salt

4 egg whites

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 250.  Beat the egg whites with the salt until they are frothy.  Gradually add in the vanilla and sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold in the nuts and the cinnamon.  You can use a wooden spoon or your hands making sure that the nuts are all coated.  Add the melted butter and stir to coat.  It will look like a mess.  And you’ll wonder if I omitted an essential ingredient or a step in the process.  Have faith.

Pour the nuts out onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.  I used a large jelly roll pan with sides. Place in the oven and bake for one hour stirring every 15 minutes.  This is when the kitchen starts to smell really amazing.

Pour the nuts out onto parchment paper or foil to cool.  Store in zip lock bags or sealed containers.  Enjoy!

We used almonds and walnuts because that is what we had but I think pecans and cashews would also be excellent.

NOTE:  Recipes for most all of our standard cookies are on my blog under Christmas Cookies.

Snickerdoodles

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This is more of a tribute post than a recipe post. A very dear family friend passed away a couple weeks ago and I inherited a few boxes full of knitting and quilting and sewing patterns. In her files I found clippings from 1961 and 1962 when she wrote a column in a local newspaper entitled “A Pinch of This…A Pinch of That…”  She had a “blog” before there were blogs.

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She was a beautiful lady who graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Home Economics. She was a great cook and baker, an incredibly talented seamstress (she made my wedding dress), a fantastic hand quilter, and a whiz with knitting needles and a crochet hook. Right up to the time she passed away she was knitting hats for newborns that she donated through her church.  She was a patient teacher who passed on her skills to her sons and grandchildren. And a few to me. When I took up knitting a few years ago I would call her for long distance assistance and whenever I visited she wanted to see my latest projects.

In her “A Pinch of This…A Pinch of That” column she gave advice and helpful hints and, you guessed it, the recipe for Snicker doodles.   I am a real sappy sentimentalist so when I found this particular column I had to make the cookies.

Ingredients:

1 cup shortening (I used butter flavor Crisco)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar + 1/4 cup for rolling

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

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Beat the shortening, eggs and sugar together thoroughly.

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Stir in the flour, baking soda and salt. Chill the dough and roll into balls about the size of a walnut. While the dough is chilling whisk together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

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Roll the dough balls in the cinnamon sugar and place about 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.

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Bake at 400 for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned and still soft.

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Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy.

In her column my friend talks about making these for Halloween. She says, “I just finished a batch of cookies and put them in the freezer in anticipation of many little trick or treaters. It’s fun to see the smiling faces as you hand each small fry his surprise. This is a good time to remember too much candy for growing youngsters is not a good idea. Vary your gifts, fruit such as apples or oranges along with a homemade cookie. A plain napkin with the goodies in the center and the corners brought together and tied with string, is much easier to handle.”  Those were the days. When kids got excited about a homemade cookie and a piece of fruit and parents would actually let their kids eat the homemade cookie and piece of fruit.

I was so happy to find these clippings. I’ll share more of the helpful hints in the future. Rest in Peace Peggy Johnson. I believe that having her in my life made me a better person.  She will live on always in my heart and mind and with every snicker doodle I make.

💕