A variation of the rich braided coffee bread that is the pride of every Finnish household. These rolls are a time-saver in the life of the busy working woman—still giving her family the warmth of this cardamom scented bread. Our niece from Finland introduced us to this recipe, and demonstrated it as the next generation of Finnish Americans watched in rapt attention. —dianne
Dissolve yeast in ½ cup warm water. Stir in the milk, sugar, cardamom, salt, eggs, and enough of the flour (about 2 cups) to make a batter. Beat until the dough is smooth and elastic. (Can use an electric beater.) Add about 3 cups of the flour and beat well; the dough should be quite smooth and glossy in appearance. Add cups of flour up to 7th cup; feel the consistency of dough whether you need to add more flour (the looser the dough, the better. When it feels right, add the melted butter and stir in well. Beat or knead until the dough looks glossy again.
Turn out onto a lightly floured board and cover with an inverted mixing bowl. Let the dough rest 15 minutes. Knead until smooth and satiny. Place dough back into a lightly greased mixing bowl, turn the dough to grease the top, cover lightly, and let rise in a warm place (about 85 degrees) until doubled in bulk (about 1 hour). Punch down and let rise again until almost doubled (about 30 minutes).
Place risen dough now onto a slightly floured board, flatten into a rectangle and divide into 2 parts. Take the first part and roll up in a cylindrical shape (resembles the shape of a jelly roll). Cut roll into equal portions. Shape each portion into an individual ball of dough using the palm of your hand and your thumb, rolling quickly into round balls. Repeat for second half of dough. Place shaped rolls on parchment covered baking sheets. Dimple each roll (poke each roll in center, like a belly button!).
Glaze the rolls by brushing with the beaten egg, and if you wish, sprinkle with pearl sugar, or crushed sugar and slivered almonds. (optional Glaze: 1 egg, beaten, ½ cup of slivered almonds, ½ cup crushed lump sugar or pearl sugar
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes Test after 15 minutes. Do not over-bake. Remove from the oven when a light golden-brown.