This is the first time I put my hands (and brain and heart) at Kanelfläta, a coffee cake which is a staple of Swedish baking. In Sweden there is no fika (afternoon coffee break) without its fikabröd, possibly coming from a good bakery. One can actually even get some pretty decent kanelfläta at supermarkets, if they have a freshly baked goods section. Many buy industrially produced kanelfläta, too, which I honestly try to avoid, but, oh well, even that can go great with coffee if you are, for instance, having an extemporary picnic to get as much as possible of the weak Swedish sun.
I always thought it was extremely difficult to make this sweet bread at home, with its regular ear-of-wheat shape, but it really wasn’t that difficult at all (scroll down for the step-by-step method).
The recipe I am going to give is for two loaves and I felt already like a proff by the time I shaped the second loaf (it is really that easy!). I used fresh yeast rather than sourdough because I wanted an easy dough to practice with shaping before venturing in converting the typical recipe (nowadays based on commercial yeast) into my dear sourdough formulae.
I also thought that, with the cute swirl created by the cinnamon filling, this sweet bread would have made a nice addition to the monthly collection of baked goods for Bread Baking Day, this time hosted by C Mom Cook, who has chosen swirly bread as the August’s theme. Thank you C mom, this was fun!
KANELFLÄTA – TRADITIONAL SWEDISH CINNAMON BRAID (adapted from Hembakat)
dough: 50 g fresh yeast (or 20 g dry yeast), 150 g butter, 600 g milk, 75 g sugar (I used unrefined organic), 1 teaspoon ground cardamom, 840-900 g all-purpose flour (I used 50% organic stone-ground bread flour and 50% organic stone-ground all-purpose), 2 pinches of marine salt.
filling: 75 g butter, 75 g sugar (I used unrefined organic), 2 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoon powdered vanilla sugar.
finish: 1 egg, pearl sugar. NOTE: if you cannot find pearl sugar simply omit it and eventually brush the finished loaf with melted butter and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Dissolve the yeast in the milk and let stay for 5 minutes. Add all the other dough ingredients except for the butter. Knead by machine for 5 minutes at low speed (or 10 minutes by hand). Let rest for 20 minutes, covered. Add the butter little by little and knead at slightly higher speed for 5-8 minutes (about 10-12 minutes by hand) or until you see a medium gluten development. Let rest covered for about 45 minutes or until the dough has doubled its size (with dry yeast this can go very fast). Prepare the filling by adding the dry ingredients to the slightly softened butter (not liquid!). Place the dough on a floured working surface and divide in two parts. Cover the one you are not using right away. Directly on the parchment paper you will use to bake the bread (it is practical to spread some butter on the working surface so the paper will adhere to it), work quickly the first part of dough and make into a rectangle. Spread the filling lenghtwise, in the center of the rectangle.
With a dough cutter or a knife, make cuts sideways, so to form several stripes all around the filling. Gently fold each stripe over the cinnamon filling, alternating between right and left stripes, so to create a flattened braid.
This was really a lot of fun. The picture below is from the second braid (one can see that it is cut in a more regular fashion compared to the first one – pictures above).
Continue until the braid is completely folded and gently seal the ends. Repeat the same steps with the other piece of dough. Now prepare the egg wash by whipping the egg with a little milk or water, brush the egg wash over the braid and sprinkle with pearl sugar (if you have it, otherwise is fine to omit it – see note above). This can also be done just before baking. Let rest covered (easiest is to place the baking dish with the braid directly in a large plastic bag)for 1/2 hour or until you observe a rise.
Bake at 200 degrees (Celsius, 392 Fahrenheit) for 15-20 minutes, being careful not to brown the bread too much.
The finished loaf looks like a wheat ear, doesn’t it?
The crumb was extremely soft and moist. Butter is good for you (or at least does very good to sweet breads).
CONSIDERATIONS: After making this bread I feel like a true Swede. Ok, maybe I am taking too far the easy accomplishment of mastering a local loaf. But still… it has been a very happy baking. And the recipe makes so much cake that we did not have to fight over the last bite (for once). Instead, we could actually fill the freezer with cut slices of the bread, which taste just like freshly baked if only reheated and served with a favorite source of caffeine. Time for another one?
CONSIDERAZIONI: Mi sono divertita moltissimo a imparare a fare questo pane dolce svedese. Le dosi fanno due spigone giganti che possono essere mangiare nel giro di due giorni (se avete taaanti amici o una grande famiglia di golosoni). Oppure, se affettate e congelate presto, possono conservare la propria fragranza per settimane (anche mesi) e le fette sono meravigliose servite riscaldate con caffe o the’. Provare per credere.