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Swedish Christmas Beer Bread

You might wonder why I am writing about Swedish bread on my mostly Asian focused website. Well I recently attended a traditional Swedish smörgåsbord dinner organized by a good friend from Bangkok. One of the nice things about living internationally is the exposure to many different people from many different cultures. As a result, I have developed a taste for not only Asian specialty dishes but also several Swedish and German dishes owing to the high concentration of Swedes and Germans I know. While French and Italian dishes seem to be something almost everyone is familiar with, somehow the Swedish and German culinary traditions are less widely known. There is however one Swedish traditional Christmas bread that I want to share with you, my foodie friends – Vörtbröd. Vörtbröd is a Christmas beer bread that will become part of my Christmas tradition for years to come. It is a dense rye bread that is slightly sweet and perfumed with typical Christmas spices like ginger and clove. I enjoyed it as much warm from the oven as I did cold the next day at the breakfast table.

Thanks to Ana for introducing me to such a wonderful recipe…I am sharing Ana’s recipe below and hope you enjoy trying it for yourself.

(makes 2 loaves)
2 cups  beer, a pale ale works well
1 3/4 oz. yeast
1 3/4 oz. butter
2 teaspoons salt
7 cups sifted rye flour
1/2 cup molasses
1 Tablespoon zested orange peel
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon powdered cloves
2/3 cup raisins
1) Warm the beer to approximately 100 degrees F. Stir the yeast into small amount of warm water to activate.
2) Mix beer, yeast, salt, and a scant 1/2 cup of flour. Knead. Work in flour until you have a smooth, elastic dough.
3) Allow to rise until doubled.
4) Bring butter, molasses, spices to a boil. Cool. Pour into dough. Add raisins.
5) Allow to rise 30 minutes. Knead and divide into two halves. Shape these halves into 2 bread pans. Rise another 30 minutes.
6) Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-50 minutes.
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