Tasteful Tuesday: Finnish Coffee Bread
When The Husband and I were married, over 15 years ago, we were given a Country Baker: Breads & Muffins (by Country Living) Cookbook. That first winter we were married, I began to delve into the art of baking bread. I loved getting my hands on the dough…feeling it’s warmth, kneading it into something tasty. I’ve learned a lot over the years. My Grandma, though no longer with me on this earth, was just a phone call away in those early days, and ALWAYS ready to offer helpful suggestions from her years of experience. Since breads are a favorite to me, both to make AND to eat, I hope to be able to share some of those helpful tidbits as we continue on our Tasty Tuesday journey’s. Finnish Bread, makes and amazing breakfast, snack, or gift. The recipe makes 3 decent sized loaves, so heck, make a loaf for your family and have a couple of loaves to give as gifts all at the same time! I made the doctor that delivered our first babies a loaf as a thank-you. She ended up hiring me to make loaves for all of her colleagues that Christmas. At first glance, this recipe may seem extensive. It really isn’t, once you get going. And trust me, any effort you put into it is so, SO worth it. :)
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 2 pkgs. active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 4 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 tsp. salt
- 9 1/2 to 10 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 TBSP butter, softened
- 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
- 2 TBSP sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 TBSP sugar
- 1 egg yolk
1. Prepare the Dough: heat the milk. Stir in butter. Cool the mixture to 100 degrees F.
2. Put warm water into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast into water. Sprinkle a a TBSP of the sugar over the yeast. Let stand until yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes.
3. With the mixer on low speed, beat the sugar, eggs, salt, and cooled milk into the water mixture. Gradually add 5 cups flour, beating after each 1 cup addition, until smooth. Let the mixture stand 10 minutes. Stir in 4 1/2 cups flour until a soft dough forms.
4. At this point, I sprinkle the remaining cup of flour onto the counter, scrape the dough onto the flour, and begin kneading the remaining flour into the dough. Be mindful, that you may not need all of it. The key is to “feel” your dough. For a nice, tender bread, you want the dough to be a little sticky in the end. I never knead my dough longer than about 2 minutes (I know, I know…recipe after recipe tells you to knead 7-10 minutes, but in my experience, it makes for a tough bread in the end).
5. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large, lightly oiled bowl, turning once to bring the oiled side up. Cover the oiled dough with a small piece of plastic wrap, making sure it’s only on the top of the dough, and not going to stick to the edges of the bowl. I find this helps the dough rise better than the tradition covering with a damp cloth. Now, let dough rise in a draft free place until doubled in size, 60-70 minutes.
6. Prepare the Streusel Toppling: In a small bowl, cut the butter into the flour and sugar until crumbly. Set aside.
7. Grease 3 regular, or 2 large baking sheets. Punch down the dough and divide into 3 balls. Each of these balls represent a loaf of bread. Since they are braided loaves, you’ll need to divide each of these balls into thirds (9 balls total). Roll each of the 9 balls into a 14-15 inch rope. Braid 3 ropes to form a loaf; place the loaf on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining dough. Again, place loaves in a warm, draft-free place until the loaves have doubled in size, about 30-45 minutes.
8. Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Sprinkle the streusel topping down the center of the loaves. Bake the loaves 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
9. Meanwhile, prepare the Glaze: In a small bowl, beat the water, sugar, and egg yolk until combined. Brush some of the glaze over the loaves. Bake the loaves 5 minutes longer. Brush the loaves with the remaining glaze, and bake 5 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the top with a fingertip. Cool loaves completely on wire racks.
These loaves look like beautiful, artisan gifts when wrapped in clear cellophane, and tied with a wired ribbon I often place the loaf in a basket and whip up a little Honey Butter to partner with it. These tiny 1/2 cup canning jars
are perfect for the honey butter. (Honey Butter = 1 stick of softened butter, mixed with about 1/4 cup (or to taste) honey).
***I HIGHLY recommend toasting the bread, and slathering it in honey butter! Nicely paired with coffee (or cocoa for the kiddo’s) for a hot breakfast. :)
Looking for more recipes, check out what we have been cooking on Bucktown Bargains.