Cardamom Bread with Almond & Pistachio Praline
Soft and fluffy bread, spiced with cardamom and covered with crunchy and buttery almond and pistachio praline.
Inspiration for this recipe comes from our last few bakes (Buchteln rolls, sweet bread Drozdzowka, cardamom rolls and Toscakaka cake). Cardamom bread is known in Nordic countries as pulla (Finland) or bulle (Sweden). This traditional bread is spiced with cardamom and usually covered with icing or served plain. We wanted to make few adjustments to the traditional recipe to mirror light texture of Buchteln rolls. We are also adding some lemon juice to the dough - to increase hydration but also to introduce citrusy flavour to complement earthy cardamom. We are using fairly high dough hydration, adjusting kneading to form light and airy texture (using same approach as in Drozdzowka - frequent dough de-gasing), and working-in softened butter into the dough (as a last step, similar to our cardamom bullars). The praline inspiration comes from Nordic cake - Toscakaka. This caramelised almond cake has a very similar praline on top. In our recipe the praline is applied on baked bread and then baked together with the bread for few minutes. It creates buttery, crunchy and sticky caramelised layer on top of soft rolls.
If you are not a fan of pralines - you may opt to bake this bread without the topping. The dough from our recipe is light and airy with good balance of cardamom spice and citrus flavour. You can cover the bread with lemon icing (see Hints below the recipe) or serve plain. Added bonus - thanks to the technique and dough recipe the bread stays fresh for 3 days.
You will start baking by proofing the yeast. Then, all ingredients (except of butter) need to be mixed for few minutes. Slow incorporation of softened butter (as a last step) is one of the key factors in this dough - so don’t skip the sequence and take your time to slowly incorporate the butter. Kneading here means simply patting the dough, remembering to rotate the bowl every so often (to aerate the dough from every angle) or mixing on low speed using dough hook attachment. If you are kneading using stand mixer - we recommend initial mixing by hand first - to make sure there is no flour residue remaining at the bottom of the bowl. Knead on lowest speed - you want a relaxed dough ;). Kneading in total will take some 12-15 minutes.
Once the dough is mixed, it needs to be covered and moved to warm place for first rest (1hr and 45min). In this bake, we recommend 3x stretch&fold (30 second job each time) in the first hour of rest. As a result, you will get plump and well de-gased dough (result = airy and light texture). Don’t worry - the dough will at least double in size anyway. After 3x stretch &fold in 1st hour you will then leave the dough untouched for the latter 30-45 minutes. When ready, transfer the dough onto lightly floured work surface and shape into 8 rolls. As you will be applying the praline on top of the bread we recommend to shape this bread in similar way to traditional brioche or monkey bread - it will be easier to pull away and split bread into portions. Once shaped, the bread needs 2nd rest - 45 minutes (in warm place). Don’t rush that part - 2nd rest is important for this bake and you want the bread to puff up nicely. You will toast nuts while preheating the oven and then bake bread at 180C for 12-14 minutes.
During that time you will prepare the praline by melting butter, mixing all ingredients and cooking for some 8 minutes until golden in colour and texture starts resembling semi-thick caramel. Praline is then applied on baked rolls and baked together with the bread for 6-8 minutes.
Once rolls are baked, make sure to run thin knife around the baking tin - otherwise praline will set and it will be more tricky to remove bread from the tin.
So - what are you getting here? To sum it all up:
- light and fluffy bread,
- only slightly sweetened,
- spiced with earthy cardamom and lightly scented with lemon,
- all covered with divine, crunchy, oh-so-hard to resist, nut praline.
Cardamom Bread with Almond and Pistachio Praline Recipe
Yield: 1 loaf (800g)/8 rolls; 8 servings
Time: 30min prep + 1hr 45 min rest + 10min prep + 45min rest + 20min baking
Total time: 3hr 30 min
Tin: loaf tin, skillet, round tin (spring form) or bundt form
For yeast proofing:
- 1/2 cup (125ml) water
- 1/2 cup (125ml) full-fat milk
- 3 Tbsps (45g) sugar
- 1 Tbsp (10g) flour
- 2 tsps (6g) active dry instant yeast or 20g active bulk dry yeast
For the dough:
- 3 cups (450g) all purpose flour
- 1 tsp cardamom or seeds from 7 cardamom pods (ground)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 egg yolk from large egg, room temperature
- 3 Tbsps (45ml) milk
- 2 Tbsps (30ml) lemon juice
- 50g butter, room temperature (softened)
Almond & Pistacchio Praline:
- 100g flaked almonds
- 50g pistachios
- 125g light brown sugar
- 4 Tbsps (60ml) full-fat milk
- 115g unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
*cup = 250ml cup
1. Proof the yeast: In a small pot mix milk, water, flour and sugar. Warm up the mixture to 38C making sure sugar is fully dissolved. Add yeast to the mixture and stir briefly. Cover with cling film or dry kitchen towel and move to the warm place. After 15 minutes you should see the mixture foaming/bubbling up. If you don’t, repeat the step. In a meantime, in a separate pot warm up 3 Tbsps milk (to 38C), take off the heat, add 2 Tbsps lemon juice - set aside for 15 minutes.
2. Prepare the dough: Sift flour with ground cardamom into your main mixing bowl. Add salt, egg yolk, proofed yeast and milk mixed with lemon juice (from Step 1). Start kneading. If you are kneading by hand - kneading here is simply patting the dough, remembering to rotate the bowl every so often to aerate the dough from every side. If you knead using stand mixer - use dough hook attachment and knead on low speed for 5-7 minutes. After that time all ingredients should be well mixed in. The dough will look dense and that’s OK. Now, start adding soft butter in small portions (1cm squares, 1 or 2 squares at a time), kneading still on low (gently patting the dough) until all butter is fully incorporated - this will take 6-8 minutes. You know the dough is ready when it’s shiny, plump and easily pulls away from your hand. It may still be slightly sticky which is OK (don’t add more flour). Once ready, transfer to bowl lightly brushed with butter or oil, cover tightly with cling film or dry kitchen towel and leave in warm place. Rest phase will take approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes and you will stretch and fold the dough 3 times in the first hour. 20 minutes after mixing - stretch and fold the dough few times (keep it brief - 30 second job), then cover and move to warm place for 20 minutes- then stretch&fold again, let rest for 20 minutes (covered) and stretch&fold last time again. After 3x stretch&fold, cover the dough, move to warm place and let rest for 45 minutes. During that time the dough should double in size.
3. Shape rolls: When the dough doubles in size, knead gently for few seconds. Transfer the dough onto lightly floured work surface and divide into 8 equal parts (the dough will weigh approx 800g, so 100g each). Brush baking tin with butter. Lightly dust your hands with flour, form 8 small rolls and place in the baking tin, leaving some 1cm space in-between. Cover the tin or skillet with dry kitchen towel and move to warm place for second rest (approx. 45 minutes). In a meantime preheat the oven to 180C. While preheating the oven, toast nuts (5 minutes at 180C).
4. Bake at 180C for 12-14 minutes. While the bread is baking start preparing almond&pistachio praline. In a medium pot (with heavy bottom) melt butter, add sugar, milk salt and toasted nuts. Cook on medium heat for about 8 minutes stirring until the mixture thickens and resembles caramel. After 12 minutes - the bread should bake through (check with skewer), take out from the oven, increase the oven temperature to 200C. Place hot praline on top of the bread and put the tin back to the oven for 6-8 minutes. After that time the top should be golden in colour and semi-set - you will see caramel starting to bubble up (watch not to burn). Once ready, take out of the oven, cool for 10 minutes then run thin knife around the edges. Let the bread set for at least 1 hour before serving.
1. Before baking you may find this post on Baking with Yeast helpful.
2. Cardamom - if you are using cardamom pods - grind small amount of flour with cardamom seeds until fine powder is achieved (you can use grinder, blender or food processor).
3. Shaping - you may opt to divide the dough into 3 x logs and plate it (bake for approx 18-20 minutes), you may opt to form a ring (plated and baked in spring form or angel cake mould - 20-25 min bake time), opt to proof and bake in bundt form (approx. 20-25 min bake time) or shape into separate rolls. Always check with the skewer if the dough is fully baked through. For bundts and larger/bulky shapes- bake at 180C for the first 15 minutes then lower the temperature to 160C and bake as indicated and skewer comes out clean (this way you will have well baked and moist/not too dry bread). The praline is semi-set, hence it’s better to shape the bread forming mini rolls (like for brioche or monkey bread) or plating it - pulling smaller pieces will make it easier to divide the bread. We would not recommend to bake this bread in a loaf shape with praline on top. It can be baked as a loaf without the topping. You can then prepare lemon icing (1 and 2/3 cups (200g) confectioners' sugar mixed with 3 Tablespoons lemon juice and 1 Tablespoon sour cream) and sprinkle with toasted nuts on top.
3. Praline - the main hint here is to watch the change in caramel colour. While preparing the praline you are going for golden colour and semi-thick caramel consistency (8min should give you just that). When baking - watch not to burn the surface (bake 6-8 minutes). Also - make sure to run thin knife around the edges 10 minutes into cooling - the praline will set and then it may be difficult to release the bread from the form. Baking praline is a sticky business - you will need to thaw the baking tin or skillet after use for few minutes in a warm water before washing.
4. Storage - rolls keep fresh for 3 days. Cover with dry kitchen towel and store at room temperature.