Swedish Cardamon Bread Recipe on Food52 (2024)

Serves a Crowd

by: My Pantry Shelf



5 Ratings

  • Makes 2 loaves

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Author Notes

Every year when I bake Swedish Cardamom bread for our Christmas morning brunch, I wonder why I reserve it for Christmas alone. It is beautiful, relatively easy to make, and tastes so tender and delicious. This recipe comes from my Swedish grandmother.

This bread features cardamon prominently. The key is to grind the cardamom seeds just before adding to dough. (Do not use pre-ground cardamom powder. It is not the same.) I like to hull the pods, then grind the seeds in a mortar and pestle until they are fine, but still contain some larger chunks (think pre-ground pepper and course pepper ground in your mill for a size comparison). The courser bits add a flavorful crunch when biting the bread.

This bread starts with scalded milk that is mixed with butter, sugar, salt, and cardamon. The milk and butter base makes for an exceptionally tender bread. The dough is left to rise and then braided into beautiful loaves that are then topped with Swedish pearl sugar. —My Pantry Shelf

What You'll Need

  • 3/4 cupmilk
  • 1/3 cupsugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoonssalt
  • 1/2 cupunsalted butter
  • 1 teaspooncardamon
  • 2 1/4 teaspoonsyeast
  • 4 cupsall-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cupwarm water
  • 2 tablespoonsSwedish Pearl Sugar
  • 1 egg white
  1. Combine sugar, salt, and butter in a medium size bowl. Scald the milk and pour over the mixture. Stir occasionally until butter is melted and mixture has cooled slightly.
  2. Crush cardamon using a mortar and pestle until it resembles course black pepper. Add to the scalded milk mixture.
  3. In a separate bowl, sprinkle yeast on warm water, stir to dissolve.
  4. In a large bowl, combine milk mixture, egg, yeast mixture, and 1 cup of flour. Beat well until smooth. Add remaining flour until dough is still supple, but not sticky. Knead 5 minutes (or less if you are using a mixer).
  5. Remove dough to an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled (1 hour or so).
  6. Punch down and let rest 10 minutes.
  7. Divide dough into 6 equal parts.
  8. With your hands, make dough balls into ropes approximately 12 inches long. (The key to a nice looking braid is starting with the same amount of dough in each rope and making the ropes the same length and width.)
  9. Take 3 of the ropes and line up parallel to each other. Pinch the tops of the ropes together. Braid the dough from the top down. When you get to the bottom, pinch together the base and tuck under the bread. (If you don’t like the look of the top of the braid, at this point you can go back and redo the top). Redo with last 3 dough balls.
  10. Place braids on a baking sheet, leaving room for them to rise. Cover braids and a let rise 45 minutes. Brush with egg white mixed with 1 Tablespoon of water. This will create a nice shiny crust. Sprinkle with the pearl sugar.
  11. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaves 40-50 minutes. Cover with foil the last 15 minutes to prevent over-browning.
  12. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.


  • Bread
  • Swedish
  • Milk/Cream
  • Grains
  • Serves a Crowd
  • Christmas
  • Easter
  • Thanksgiving
  • Vegetarian
  • Brunch
Contest Entries
  • Your Best Recipe with Cardamom

Recipe by: My Pantry Shelf

The bounty of each season is worth celebrating! Most of the meals I cook for my hungry family of four are based on whatever is fresh and bountiful in our yard or what we can glean from the yards of our friends and neighbors. The seasonal food we have in surplus goes into the canning jars. Even busy families can find time for fresh, homemade foods.

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18 Reviews

Ashley H. December 14, 2018

First time baking bread, and was looking for a recipe with a pretty braid and cardamom. So easy, and a really nice way to use up the last of my Meyer lemon sugar (ready for another harvest)! Thank you for sharing.

Dale P. December 12, 2017

This turned out great! The suggestion of crushing whole cardamom pods made a huge difference!

Kim M. December 19, 2015

I have ground cardamom, and I see your recipe states to grind, so I'm assuming the measurement of 1 tsp is for seeds. Do you know what the measurement is for ground cardamom? Thanks!

Nancy H. December 21, 2017

Did you ever get an answer? I also have ground cardamom.

Cheryl P. December 31, 2018

It's a teaspoon of crushed cardamon.

DanaP May 22, 2014

my grandmother would brush strong coffee over the bread when it came out of the oven and sprinkle sugar on top. sounds strange but it's soooo good.

Derald B. April 20, 2014

The spice is CARDAMOM......not CARDAMON.

Cheryl P. December 31, 2018

Actually both spellings are correct. Cardamom is the Latinization and cardamon is from the original Greek.

Fujibob March 20, 2013

Where do I get Swedish Pearl Sugar? Also can you add Saffron?

My P. March 21, 2013


I last found Swedish Pearl Sugar at Sur la Table. If you don't have one nearby, I am sure you could order it from them or another online retailer. It is a bit of an uncommon ingredient, but the effect is worth the effort to track it down.
As far as the saffron is concerned, I have not tried it. This bread really sings tribute to cardamom, which is one of the reasons I love it. If you do try adding saffron, let us know how it comes out!

Daisy123 January 29, 2013

Hi- In the list of ingredients you list 1 egg and 1 egg white. I see the the white is for brushing. . .when do you add the 1 egg?

My P. January 31, 2013

Oops, you are right! I edited the recipe to correct the error. Add the egg on step 4.

jenniferp December 5, 2012

Can I make the dough the day before and bake it off in the morning?

My P. January 31, 2013

I have not tried it, so I can't be sure. I would recommend making the dough and putting it in the fridge after you braid it. Take it out in the morning and allow to rest on the counter for at least an hour to come to room temp and then bake. Another option would be to slightly underbake it the day before and then finish it off in the morning. If you try it, let us know how it works! I love this bread :)

Kitchen B. January 30, 2011

I need to get my baking act together to make some pulla

TheWimpyVegetarian January 30, 2011

Wonderful! Looks delicious!

Sagegreen January 29, 2011


testkitchenette January 29, 2011

Beautifully done!

Swedish Cardamon Bread Recipe on Food52 (2024)


Why do Swedes love cardamom? ›

Culinary archaeologist Daniel Serra, who co-wrote the book An Early Meal – a Viking Age Cookbook and Culinary Odyssey, believes that cardamom first became of interest in Scandinavia in the 13th Century for both its medicinal and culinary use, as documented in the old cookbook Libellus de Arte Coquinaria.

What is the history of cardamom buns? ›

Cardamom buns, kardemummabullar in Swedish, have a long history in Sweden and are a popular pastry enjoyed throughout the country. The exact origin of cardamom buns in Sweden is unclear, but it is believed that they were introduced by German bakers who came to Sweden in the 17th century.

What kind of cardamom is used in Swedish baking? ›

It's important to note that there are different types of cardamom, and it's the green cardamom that is used in nearly all Swedish (and Norwegian) recipes.

What is the most used spice in Sweden? ›

We break down how cardamom became the flavor backbone in Swedish favorites such as mulled wine (or glögg), flavored coffee, and Christmas sweet bread. Talking with everyone from culinary archaeologists to Swedish-Canadian grandmothers, we'll uncover the unlikely history of this millenia-old spice!

What ethnicity uses cardamom? ›

This is the form of cardamom that many home chefs use, and for the freshest taste the seeds can be ground right before they are added to a dish. Cardamom seed powder is a very popular ingredient in a variety of different types of cuisine including Indian, Finnish, Swedish and South Asian.

Why is cardamom called the queen of spices? ›

Cardamom contains many medicinal properties and provides great taste and fragrance when added to refreshing drinks. Therefore, it is regarded as the "Queen of Spices".

Why is cardamom used in Scandinavian countries? ›

Serra thinks the Moors likely introduced cardamom to Scandinavia. According to this theory, cardamom and other spices would have found their way from the Iberian peninsula up to London, and then from London, were traded along a German trade route up into Scandinavia.

Why is cardamom in Swedish cooking? ›

About 1,000 years ago, the Vikings found cardamom in the bazaars of Constantinople and introduced it to Scandinavia. Today, Swedes consume 60 times as much Cardamom as Americans do and 18 times more per capita than the average country, including it in mulled wines, fresh pastries, and stewed fruits (Rae).

Which country uses cardamom the most? ›

However, some 95% of cardamom produced in India is for domestic purposes, and India is itself by far the most important consuming country for cardamoms in the world. India also imports cardamom from Sri Lanka.

Which country is famous for cardamom? ›

Guatemala is the leading supplier of cardamom in the world, producing approximately 23,000 MTs annually. Guatemala exports the majority of its production to the Middle East, with small amounts to the EU.


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