The 2021 Holidays Recipe Collection
How you doin’? It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas and cardamom may be the aroma wafting through many kitchens. Some of you may not be all that familiar with cardamon, but it is well known in the spice world. The flavor is kind of hard to describe… it has an extremely complex flavor, lending itself to both sweet and savory dishes. As the third most expensive spice in the world (only behind saffron and vanilla), cardamom has made quite a name for itself, even earning the nickname The Queen of Spices. Cardamon is a prerequisite for dishes from Indian curries to braided Scandinavian breads—the subject of today’s blog.
What is Cardamom you ask? It is a pod spice in the ginger family. You can find cardamon as a whole pod, shelled whole seeds, or ground powder. Although cardamon was originally found in southern India, today Guatemala is the largest producer of this valuable spice.
Green Cardamom is the more common variety of cardamom. It is often used in sweeter dishes. Green cardamom's flavor is warm, herbal, citrusy, spicy and even a bit minty all at the same time. Wow that’s impressive for a single for a single spice.
Black Cardamom is a larger, dark brown pod, black cardamom is more commonly used in savory dishes due to its smokier flavor. When you see black cardamom called for in a recipe, it's usually the whole pod that is meant to be used.
While many Indian and Indian-inspired dishes call for cardamom, i.e., curry dishes, Kheer (Indian rice pudding) and chai, Indian spice blends such as garam masala also feature cardamom. You'll also find that cardamom adds warmth and depth to baked goods such as cookies, bread pudding, cheesecake and Scandinavian Pulla and Julekaka where it is widely used in baked goods, such as (Swedish Christmas breads).
Aside from the exciting flavors and delightful aromas there are health benefits of cardamom. One 2009 study showed that the high levels of antioxidants in cardamom may help lower blood pressure. An earlier study from 2007 found cardamom to have diuretic properties, meaning it can promote urination. It has also been used as a breath freshener and this claim was backed up by a another more recent study that found cardamom to be effective at disrupting bacteria that can lead to gum disease or oral infections.
Swedish Braided Cardamom Bread is a traditional holiday loaf that's a delicious, enriched dough topped with pearl sugar or sesame seeds. Cardamom breads, including pula are a type of morning dessert. It is typically served all year round as a table treat with coffee or tea. In Finland, pulla is typical in caffes where its quality is considered as a sign of the establishment's quality. Pulla can be baked as a small round brioche style loaf or a braided loaf called pullapitko. Also popular is korvapuusti (cinnamon roll). This variant of the sweet, aromatic pastry is sometimes topped with vanilla icing, or almond flakes (or both) and usually requires about three to four hours of preparation—plan accordingly. Cardamom bread is considered a traditional food among Swedish Americans.
Prep time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Proof time: 60-90 minutes
Bake time: 30 minutes
Total time: Allow 4 hours
Yield: 2 braided loaves
2 cups whole milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 envelopes active dry yeast or instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
2 large eggs divided
1 tablespoon whole milk
2 tablespoons Scandinavian pearl sugar
ChefSecret: How so you know when the bread is full baked? You can use the thump method—tap the bread with your finger and if it sounds hollow it is probably done. Personally I like to use a temperature probe and when the bread reaches 190⁰ F, it’s time to take it out.
Quip of the Day: “Two men were talking at the bar… one asks, ‘Does your family say a prayer before you eat dinner?’ The other man replies, ‘Nope, we’re Irish and my wife knows how to cook.”
Do you have a question or comment? Send your thoughts to email@example.com. All recipes and cooking tips are posted on our website https://www.perspectives-la.com/covid-19-survival-guide.
To you and everyone dear to you, be strong, be positive, stay well, stay safe and be kind. Have a wonderful safe and healthy holiday season. If you have a little extra in your pockets to share with others at this difficult time, please consider donating to Feeding America.
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©Perspectives/The Consulting Group, Inc., 2021
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