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Finnish Cardamom Braids Recipe

Every Finn I know often serves Nissua, a sweet bread with cardamom. I believe my mom's recipe beats all others, hands down! Her bread is soft and fluffy while others can be dry . No matter how many Nissua braids she makes for a popular annual craft fair, they're all gone by noon!—Anne Heinonen, Howell, Michigan
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 25 min. + rising Bake: 25 min. + cooling YIELD:32 servings


  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 2 cups warm milk (110° to 115°)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 eggs
  • 7 to 8 cups all-purpose flour


  • 1. In a bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add milk, sugar, butter, salt, cardamom, eggs and 3 cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • 2. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Divide each half into thirds. Shape each piece into a 13-in. rope. Place three ropes on a greased baking sheet. Braid ropes; pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Repeat. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  • 3. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).

Nutritional Facts

1 slice: 158 calories, 4g fat (2g saturated fat), 23mg cholesterol, 152mg sodium, 26g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 1g fiber), 4g protein.

Reviews for Finnish Cardamom Braids

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kimmerrou User ID: 4183616 217026
Reviewed Jan. 5, 2015

"I have looked at this recipe for years and wondered "Should I?". Well, we wasted a whole lotta years because this bread recipe is GREAT! It is easy to throw together, moist, and beyond yummy. It was good warm and good cold. The only thing I wondered (which another reviewer answered for me) was if it would be okay with more cardamom...I really like cardamom.

Should you make it? Yes. Don't save it for Christmas, make it anytime of the year! Well, I must go and slice some right now....mmmmmmmm!"

badshutterfinger User ID: 7698714 28413
Reviewed Mar. 2, 2014

"This bread is delicious! I halved the recipe and made it in the bread machine, increasing the cardamom to 1 tsp per loaf and used 2 1/4 tsp of instant yeast instead of active dry. Just before putting the braid in the oven, I brushed it with milk and sprinkled on coarse sugar. I covered it loosely with foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. It was very easy and it tastes fantastic!"

peculiarpurple User ID: 7552225 81570
Reviewed Dec. 22, 2013

"This is a GREAT recipe. I chose it over other cardamom bread recipes because it contains more sugar and butter... I made the following modifications:

- make sure to add a protective layer of flour over the butter before adding the hot milk so as not to melt the butter.
- I used much more cardamom (2.5-3 tsp), but that's a matter of personal preference. Even with that much it is not overwhelming, and I used fresh ground.
- I used only 6.5 cups of flour because I wanted a moist loaf.
- In retrospect, I would do two rises before shaping. I kneaded one loaf more than the other and it rose much better; the other was a bit floppy although it still tastes great.
- I did an egg wash and sprinkled with coarse sugar before baking. The egg wash is purely aesthetic but the sugar really adds something.
Thanks for a great recipe!"

Sprowl User ID: 29186 72647
Reviewed Sep. 30, 2011

"I bake alot of different breads and this is the first one that I prefer as is instead of toasted. I halfed the recipe since there are only the two of us and it was perfect."

mngardenlady User ID: 4534595 74995
Reviewed Feb. 28, 2011

"can someone help me. . . can the full recipe of this cardamom bread be done in a bread machine or should I half it. . ."

ohavrylyuk User ID: 1021544 28713
Reviewed Feb. 17, 2011

"I have been making this recipe for years now, only i double the eggs, it taste oh- oh so good, dough is so easy to work with, braids are gorgeous enough to give it as a gift, and lately i use the breadmaker to make the dough and first rise, then take it out and shape the braid , let it rise the second time and bake it, so much less work, same yummy result, you will not be sorry you made it."

lusi User ID: 221467 45354
Reviewed Apr. 4, 2008

"I am very familiar with this recipe, as I have been living in Finland for many years. If you can use a coarsely ground cardamom, the flavor is much better than with the finely ground. We can buy it in a coarse grind here. We call this "pulla" in Finnish. Before baking, I brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with coarsly ground sugar. It is best fresh, but you can dunk it in your coffee if it is getting a bit dry. It also makes a very nice bread pudding. We also use the same dough to make a variety of sweet buns. You can roll this out, spread with butter and cinnamon-sugar and roll into a log. Then slice it into pinwheel and bake. The possibilities are endless!

Cheers, lusi"

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