“Adaptation from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. I make this every year for Christmas as a braided wreath or as 2 large braided loaves. It is a fabulous recipe, and hunting down where to buy the cardamom pods to make it every year is worth every minute. A little sweet, full of flavor, this makes a fantastic dinner bread for Christmas Eve and an even better bread for Eggnog French Toast for Christmas breakfast.”
2hrs 45mins
2 loaves

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 14 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
  • 12 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom seed, crushed (you can use a mortar & pestle or coffee grinder)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature
  • 4 12-5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 12 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • Glaze and Topping Ingredients
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, for topping (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sugar, for topping (optional, can use Turbinado sugar)


  1. Scald the milk in a small saucepan (heat until a ring of small bubbles is visible around the sides of the pan). Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk yeast into the warm water and set aside for 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk the milk, sugar, cardamom, salt, and eggs into the yeast mixture.
  4. Add 2 cups of the flour and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.
  5. Beat in the butter and as much additional flour, 1/2 cup at a time, as you can until the dough is stiff but not dry.
  6. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
  7. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and satiny, about 10 minutes.
  8. Shape the dough into a ball, place into a lightly greased bowl, turn it over in the bowl to grease the top, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature 45-60 minutes until doubled in size.
  9. Lightly oil a cool work surface.
  10. "Punch down" or lightly knead the air bubbles out of the dough on the oiled surface.
  11. Divide the dough in thirds and roll each third into a rope about 36 inches long.
  12. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.
  13. Braid the 3 strands on the baking sheet, and pinch the ends. To make the 2 loaves, braid the entire strand and cut in half. Set the braids next to each other on the baking sheet.
  14. Cover the braids with a towel and let rise at room temperature about 45 minutes.
  15. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F
  16. Combine the beaten egg and 1 tablespoon of milk to make the glaze.
  17. Brush the egg glaze over the bread (a pastry brush works well for this).
  18. Sprinkle with almonds and pearl sugar (optional).
  19. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden. Transfer to a rack to cool to room temperature before cutting.
  20. The bread is best eaten the day it is made, but can be stored 1-2 days covered in plastic wrap.

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