Think you’re incapable of making beautiful bread at home? Think again!
This lovely twisted loaf is so much simpler than you’d guess by looking at it. And the simple list of ingredients required makes it suitable for those with dairy or egg allergies too.
It is just slightly sweet, not sickly rich like a cinnamon roll. Most of the flavor comes from the use of warm spices – a combination of both cinnamon and cardamom.
Cardamom is vastly underrated – it has a sweet, warm scent, and just a touch of kick. Read more about it here!
With a bit of kneading, rolling, slicing, and twisting, you’ll be amazed at what your own two hands are able to create. It might sound complicated at first, but just follow the pictures and you’ll be wrapping your own with ease.
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Mix the Dry
In a large bowl, mix together the flour (both types), salt, sugar, and yeast.
If substituting fresh or active dry yeast instead of instant, be sure to first whisk together the yeast and lukewarm water (as well as sugar, in the case of active dry yeast).
Step 2 – Just Add Water
Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the water. Your water should be around 100°F, which will feel lukewarm to the touch. If it is too warm, it will make kneading a sticky, difficult mess.
Using either your clean hand or a bowl scraper, pull the flour from the edges into the center to begin incorporating the water. I prefer using a bowl scraper, as it allows me to keep my hands clean while pulling together the ingredients more quickly.
Once the water has been fully incorporated into the flour, the mixture should form a shaggy dough. At this stage, turn the mixture out onto a clean counter.
Step 3 – Knead
Knead your dough for about ten minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour a quarter of a cup at a time. The dough should remain tacky, but it should release from your hands as you knead.
Don’t be afraid to work it hard – the friction and folding is forming the gluten to strengthen the crumb of your bread. But remain gentle as well – if the dough starts to tear, you are breaking those carefully formed protein strands.
If it gets too tough to knead without tearing, let the dough rest for about two minutes. The gluten has gotten tired and wants a little break!
As you knead, you should slowly form a smooth ball of dough. When you think it is finished, perform a windowpane test to check the gluten formation. Cut a small portion of the dough, and slowly stretch it out until the center is thin enough to see through. If you can stretch it thin without it tearing, it is ready to go.
Step 4 – Rest
Place the dough in a large oiled bowl. I just rinse the bowl I used for mixing, dry it, then spray with pan spray. Cover loosely with a damp towel or plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for an hour, or until doubled in size.
Step 5 – Rectangle
On a clean countertop, roll your dough into a large rectangle about 18 inches by 24 inches and 1/2 inch thick.
Be gentle as you roll, alternating directions with every stroke so as not to strain the gluten strands. If you roll too far in a single direction, your dough will spring back in defiance!
Dust your bread with an even layer of sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom, then slice in half horizontally so that you have two rectangles, 18 inches by 12 inches each.
Step 6 – Log Roll
Roll each rectangle into a tight log against the horizontal axis.
Starting with the long side closest to you, pull the edge taught as you roll it forward so that you have a tight log that’s about 18 inches in length. Repeat with the second rectangle of dough.
Step 7 – Slice
Slice each log lengthwise, halfway deep, reserving one inch on either end so that the roll holds together.
Step 8 – Arch
Form overlapping rainbow-shaped arches with the logs, so that the right leg of the top arch intersects with the left leg of the bottom arch.
Step 9 – Wrap
Now this is where it might start to sound complicated – don’t get scared. Just follow the photos and you’ll be fine!
Start by pulling the right-most end of the bottom log over the right-most leg of the top, so that the first is parallel to you.
Now pull the right-most leg of the top log up over the leg that is parallel to you, i.e. the right leg of the bottom portion. It should meet the left end of the bottom log.
Step 10 – Tuck
You should now have an enclosed knot with two loose ends. Just pull these ends in the direction they are already facing, wrap them around the perimeter of the knot, and tuck the tips underneath.
You should have your finished knot!
Step 11 – Rest
Gently place the loaf in an oiled 9-inch cake pan. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rest for an hour.
Don’t worry if your folds look messy or fall apart. As the loaf finishes this final proof, it will fill out. The rustic look is part of what makes this bread so beautiful.
While the bread is resting, preheat the oven to 375°F.
Step 12 – Bake
Bake the bread for 25 minutes, or until the inside of the loaf reaches between 180 and 200°F. The crust will be slightly brown and, if tapped, will sound hollow.
As tempting as it might be to cut into your creation right away, let it cool for ten minutes before you prepare to take your first bite!
As it cools, the starches are setting. Believe it or not, these last few minutes outside of the oven are a very important part of the baking process.
Are you ready to test out this impressive looking shape for yourself? You are sure to surprise your guests with your newfound bread baking skills.
Let us know in the comments if you have any questions or concerns about kneading and shaping this bread!
Looking for more recipes flavored with cardamom? Take a look at some of these tasty food and drink ideas:
- Apple Pear Pie with Cardamom and Ginger
- A Cool and Creamy Indian Lassi Drink
- Sweet and Crunchy Cardamom Saffron Cookies
Photos by Kendall Vanderslice, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Kendall Vanderslice
Kendall’s love of food has taken her around the world. From baking muffins on a ship in West Africa and milking cows with Tanzanian Maasai, to hunting down the finest apfelstrudel in Austria, she continually seeks to understand the global impact of food. Kendall holds a BA in Anthropology from Wheaton College and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University, and has worked in the pastry departments of many of Boston’s top kitchens. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Kendall helps to run a small community supported bread bakery and writes about the intersection of food, faith, and culture on her personal blog, A Vanderslice of the Sweet Life.