I know, I know – it seems like I’ve been on a bread kick lately. Actually, I’m always on a bread kick. There is no doubt that I am a serious carb junkie. And this loaf…this is a good one.
It’s a much simplified version of a loaf I’ve made for years, from a cookbook I can hardly believe I own: Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland, by Beth Dooley and Lucia Watson. I bought it many years ago for its homey, comforting, slow food recipes, but there’s hardly a one I can make now without major modifications. (It’s divided into sections with names like “Henhouse and Dairy,” “Barnyard and Smokehouse,” and “Deep Lakes and Swift Streams.”) One of my favorite recipes was for Finnish Cardamom Coffee Bread. It’s really delicious, but also loaded with eggs and honey and kneading it was a serious upper body workout. And I only got one loaf out of the deal.
This recipe, on the other hand, doesn’t require that you train for two weeks prior to making it. It has all of the flavors of the original – and of which I’m completely enamored: cardamom, coffee and maple. And, you get two loaves out of it – or lots of rolls, if you prefer. If you can braid or twirl or loop (and of course you can!), you can create some very impressive baked goods. Store the dough in your refrigerator for up to five days – fresh bread for the week. Super toasted for your breakfast or wonderful at sandwiching PB&J.
Makes 2 loaves (or a mess of rolls)
2 cups almond milk, plus more for brushing top of loaf
2 tbsp. flaxseed meal
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
4 oz. unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp. instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cardamom seeds, crushed with mortar and pestle (remove husks after crushing)
2 tbsp. freshly ground coffee
1/2 cup roasted, chopped pecans
2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tbsp. Demerara sugar, for sprinkling
In a large container with lid (or big glass bowl), mix together the almond milk, flaxseed meal, maple syrup, applesauce, yeast and salt. Add flours and pecans and mix, making sure ingredients are combined thoroughly with no dry flour remaining.
Cover container with lid (or bowl with plastic wrap) and let sit at room temperature for about 2 hours. Transfer to refrigerator overnight.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide dough in half, returning one half to the refrigerator for later use.
Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and on a floured surface, gently roll pieces into 18″ long ropes. Place the ropes side by side, about 2″ apart, on the prepared baking sheet. Pinch on end together and tuck under. Loosely braid dough and again, pinch the end and tuck under. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375F. Brush top of loaf with almond milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 30-45 minutes. Transfer loaf to a cooling rack.