This is the main food tradition our family has from Finland. We make it every year at Christmas time, and it is a wonderful fragrant bread for any time of the year.
Yields: 12 servings
2 packages active baker's yeast
1/2 cup water 105 to 115 degrees
1/2 cup milk, scalded
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
5 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom, ground
Combine the yeast, water and one teaspoon sugar to feed yeast and let stand ten minutes.
Combine milk, sugar, salt and butter in bowl of mixer. Mix and cool to lukewarm. Add yeast mixture, eggs, cardamom and cups of flour. beat until smooth. Gradually add remaining 2 cups of flour.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl; brush the top with oil and cover. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch down and turn out onto a lightly floured board. Divide the dough into three parts. Roll each part into a stand 10 inches long. Braid loosely. Place on a greased cookie sheet and let rise in warm place until double, about one hour. Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over top bake in preheated 350 degree oven about 35 minutes.