Swedish Christmas Bread Recipe

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 Updated 28/07/2015

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I understand that the Swedish word for this type of bread is V�rtbr�t, which literally means 'wort bread' or 'beer bread'. Of course the combination of beer and bread is common throughtout Europe - there is a natural symmetry between beer and bread through the use of yeast and grain. More importantly because beer is so varied in flavour and colour, it is an easy way to add enhance the look and taste of bread. This recipe suggests using stout (or porter) and this, as you may expect, gives a distinctive dark appearance as well as a deep flavour. In fact Sweden has a long tradition of brewing stout and porter, having imported some of the method of production not long after the technique was discovered in London in the early 18th century. You can of course use any beer you like and I have seen other recipes which use pale ale or even lager. Like most festive breads this recipe in very generous with ingredients and thus would have only been made for Christmas as a once-a-year treat.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 pints stout
  • 8 tablespoons black treacle
  • 3/4 lb rye flour
  • 3/4 lb strong plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • peel of 2 oranges
  • 1 tablespoon ground aniseed or fennel seed
  • 4 level tablespoons dried yeast
(see measure conversions for more information on quantites)

Method

  1. Melt the butter and add the stout, beating until lukewarm.
  2. Put into a large bowl and add the treacle, half the flour, salt, grated peel and aniseed or fennel.
  3. Dissolve the yeast in a little warm water and work it into the mixture.
  4. Retain about 1 cup plain flour, and work the remainder into the dough and mix well, beating until the dough is smooth and firm.
  5. Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in bulk.
  6. Knead with the remaining flour until firm and glossy.
  7. Divide into 3 pieces and shape into long loaves.
  8. Put on to a greased baking tray, cover with a cloth and leave for 1 hour.
  9. Prick the surfaces of the loaves with a cocktail stick or thin skewer.
  10. Place in a preheated oven temp 150oC/300of/gas mark 2 for 1 hour.
  11. Halfway through baking, brush the tops of the loaves with a little black treacle mixed in water.
  12. Brush with the same mixture when the loaves are baked, and wrap them in clean tea towels to keep soft.

Prep Time: 120 minutes

Cook Time: 120 minutes

Yield: 4 - 8 portions


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