Finnish Coffee Bread (Traditional)

Total Time
4hrs 30mins
Prep 4 hrs
Cook 30 mins

Originally this recipe was printed in the Finnish Cookbook but I have been making it every year for Christmas breakfast. Although it is time consuming with three rises this recipe makes three coffee braids, so there is always one for the freezer and to share with friends. Prep time includes approximate rising time.

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast (original recipe specifies one package but I use 2)
  • 12 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 cups milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 -12 cardamom pods, seeded and crushed, depending on how strong a cardamom flavor you like (I use 10-12)
  • 5 eggs, beaten, divided (1 egg is used for glaze)
  • 8 -10 cups flour
  • 12 cup butter or 12 cup margarine, melted
  • 14 cup sugar, for glazing braids (or less)


  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl.
  2. Stir in milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, 4 eggs, and 2 cups of flour.
  3. Stir until dough is smooth.
  4. Add 3 cups of flour and stir well.
  5. Stir in melted butter or margarine.
  6. Stir in 2-3 cups more flour or until you have a stiff dough.
  7. Turn dough out onto a floured bread board and cover with inverted bowl.
  8. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  9. Knead dough until smooth and satiny (8-10 minutes).
  10. Place dough in large lightly greased bowl, turning to grease top.
  11. Cover with plastic wrap and/or towel.
  12. Let dough rise in a warm place until doubled (1-2 hours).
  13. Punch dough down.
  14. Let dough rise again until almost double (30 minutes- 1 hour).
  15. Turn out onto floured board.
  16. Divide dough into thirds, working with only one third at a time.
  17. Divide (one- third of dough) into three parts.
  18. With your hands roll each part into one 18"strand.
  19. Braid the three stands together to form one braid, tucking ends under.
  20. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet.
  21. Let rise 20-30 minutes until puffy.
  22. Repeat with other two parts (each one-third of original dough).
  23. You will have three braids when finished.
  24. Brush braids with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.
  25. Bake in 400°F oven for 20-30 minutes or until braids are light brown.


Most Helpful

What a delicious bread, it's lightly sweet with a great cardamom flavor that just makes it complete. I made a single loaf and I think that it isn't going to last long.. Mine was fully bakes when the crust was much lighter than the other pix, that might be because I used Splenda for the sugar and brushed with egg white only? For whatever the reason we very much like the golden blush of it's crust..

Annacia December 22, 2011

Excellent recipe. Produced three gorgeous loaves and made my house smell like a bakery. I will freeze two of these loaves. The texture of this dough is somewhat like Challah, but the texture and flavor of the finished product is quite different. Terrific. I can't wait to serve it to guests this weekend!!!

spatchcock March 12, 2004

This gets 5 stars just for making my house smell so nice today! This is wonderful Ellie, it was fun to get my hands in some dough on this cold, snowy day and have some warm coffee cake as a treat. I used 12 cardamom pods because we really love the cardamom taste....made the recipe as is, excellent instructions with wonderful results. Thanks Ellie, this is replacing Grandma's recipe (sorry Grandma)m

Hey Jude January 25, 2004

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