Cardamom Bread with Orange Butter

This bread will change your life. You will not want to toast any other type of bread after this. Well, I know I don't. I made this on Sunday, after my day of baking fails. It totally restored my confidence. It was so simple and the results were splendid. I'm not saying it's the only loaf you'll ever need but you will need it.

It's just amazing.

I've never been so excited by a loaf of bread. Must calm down.
 
I've not been too well this week. I have the worst stomach ache and I feel lousy. I've been off work and just spent the whole time sleeping and watching Homeland (Oh My God...it's so good!). I'm hoping I'll feel better for tomorrow. I hate being off work. It just makes me feel guilty. Thankfully, as soon as I recover, I will have this bread to comfort me.
 
You can tell as soon as you leave it to rise that this bread is going to be a soft but sturdy loaf. The dough is incredibly easy to manage and kneading it doesn't feel like hard work. I've been using my Kitchenaid less than usual over the past few weeks. I've been enjoying mixing things myself and kneading by hand. Sometimes it's too much faff to lift it off the top shelf and set everything up. I forgot how enjoyable kneading a loaf of bread can be, watching the dough become smooth and elastic and wondering how anyone came up with the idea in the first place.

It's my birthday next month and I like birthday brunches so I feel like this would make amazing French toast. Just thinking about the warmth of the cardamom mixed with some egg and sugar makes me feel all cosy. Don't even get me started on the orange butter. It's well known that orange and cardamom go perfectly together. All I did was mix softened salted butter (for toast, salted is better) and orange zest together. It's a brilliant way to liven up your morning toast.

Cardamom Bread with Orange Butter
(adapted from Take a Megabite)
 
Makes 2 loaves

 20g dried active yeast
500ml lukewarm water
100g caster sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs
60ml vegetable oil
1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons ground cardamom (depending on preference)
450g strong plain flour
450g plain flour
 
For the orange butter:
100g salted butter
zest of 1 orange
  1. Using a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water, giving it a little mix to stop it resting at the bottom. Add the sugar, salt, eggs, oil, cardamom and strong plain flour. Mix together with a wooden spoon, bring all the ingredients together. Beat for a minute, scraping the bowl frequently.
  2. Add the plain flour and work into the dough until it is easy to handle. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for around 8 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  3. Place the dough in a large well oiled bowl, turning once to coat. (At this point the dough can be refrigerated for 3 – 4 days.) Cover with cling film or a clean tea towel and let rise in a warm place for about an hour or until dough has doubled in size.
  4. Lightly grease and line your bread tins, if making a freeform loaf just line a baking tray with baking paper. Deflate the dough and divide into two equal halves. Pat each half of dough into a rectangle and roll from short end to short end and tuck the ends under. Place into the loaf tins.
  5. Let the dough rise in a warm place for an hour or until double in size.
  6. Preheat your oven to 190 C/375 F. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and hollow on the base. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tins to cool on a wire rack.
  7. Mix the butter and zest together and get ready to toast away.

Note: Add any nuts or sultanas into the bread with the first lot of flour if you want more extras. Dark chocolate chips would be awesome as well.