About this recipe:A unique bread with a sweet flavour that makes a wonderful food gift at Christmas! It takes about 4 hours to make, so allow yourself plenty of time.
125ml warm water (45 degrees C)
1 (7g) sachet dried active baking yeast
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 eggs, beaten
1kg plain flour, and more as needed
125g butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons caster sugar
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Method Prep:30min › Cook:30min › Extra time:2hr20min › Ready in:3hr20min
Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Let cool until lukewarm.
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Stir in the lukewarm milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, 4 eggs and enough flour to make a batter (about 300g). Beat until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add about 500g more flour and beat well; the dough should be smooth and glossy in appearance. Add the melted butter, and stir well. Beat again until the dough looks glossy. Stir in the remaining flour until the dough is stiff.
Turn out of bowl onto a floured surface, cover with an inverted mixing bowl and let rest for 15 minutes. Knead the dough until smooth and satiny. Place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, and turn the dough to grease the top. Cover with a clean towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch down, and let rise again until almost doubled.
Turn out again on to a floured surface, and divide into 3 parts. Divide each third into 3 again. Roll each piece into a 30 to 40cm (12 to 16 in) strip. Plait 3 strips into a loaf. You should get 3 large plaited loaves. Lift the plaits onto greased baking trays. Let rise for 20 minutes.
Brush each loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 200 C / Gas mark 6 for 25 to 30 minutes. Check occasionally because the bottom burns easily.