I love The Hunger Games. I think the books are very powerful and there are many images from them that will never leave my mind. Interestingly, one of those images has to do with food. When I read about Peeta’s family and their bakery, I pictured a European-style bakery, filled with delicious breads and beautiful pastries. The Mellark’s bakery really stood out to me for some reason. As the story progresses, we learn that Peeta has advanced artistic abilities, which were honed while decorating baked goods for the family business. The mental picture I had painted of his family’s bakery only became more enriched and detailed on learning of Peeta’s talent.
I like to think that the Mellark family was silently protesting The Capitol with their beautiful breads, cakes and pastries. Despite living in the depressing, grey, poverty-stricken conditions of District 12, this baker and his family made beautiful things with basic ingredients like milk, eggs and flour. When Peeta threw a loaf of bread to Katniss in the rain when they were younger, the loaf was a symbol of plenty, a shining beacon through the storm. And, wouldn’t you know it, Peeta’s artistic skills helped him survive in the Hunger Games. Take that, President Snow!
So, today, a beautiful bread recipe in honor of Peeta and his protests!
This recipe for bulle, a Swedish cardamom bread that my grandmother made regularly throughout her life, can be made beautiful in two ways as a loaf or as buns. I love the braided loaf. Whether it is sprinkled with pearl sugar or drizzled with glaze, it is always beautiful. And the little buns are just as pretty, with the spinning shape and a mound of white crystals on top. I think Peeta would be proud!
Below is the recipe for the buns. If you would like to learn how to make the braided loaf, click here!
Bulle (Swedish cardamom bread)
Makes 48 buns…I promise you can eat them all.
– 2 1/2 cups milk
– 2 packets active dry yeast OR 4 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
– 1 cup sugar
– 8 cups sifted flour
– 1 cup melted butter
– 1/2 tsp salt
– ~3 tsp ground cardamom
– 1/2 cup or so of butter, melted
– Brown sugar
– Pearl Sugar
– 1 egg, beaten well with a bit of water
Heat milk so it is very warm. Place yeast in the bowl of your mixer. Add 1/2 cup of the warm milk and stir until yeast is dissolved. Let sit about five minutes, to dissolve and get foamy. Add remaining milk and 1/4 c sugar. Beat in 3 C flour and continue beating until smooth. Cover and set aside to rise until double in bulk, 3/4 1 hour. Sometimes this first rise only takes 30 minutes.
Add remaining sugar, 1 cup melted, cooled butter and salt. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cardamom and 4 1/2 C flour to yeast mixture and mix well.
Place remaining 1/2 C flour on board or pastry cloth for kneading. Turn out dough and knead until smooth and elastic. Alternatively, add the 1/2 cup of remaining flour to the bowl and knead the dough with your stand mixer using the dough hook for about 10 minutes. Place dough in greased bowl. Cover with cloth and let rise until double in bulk, 3/4 1 hour.
Divide dough into four even pieces. Roll each piece out into a rectangle, about 15³ x 20³. Brush rectangle with butter, leaving a 1 inch border along one of the long sides. Sprinkle butter evenly with cardamom and brown sugar. Roll the dough up so you end up with a 20³ long roll, so that the roll ends with the un-buttered border to seal the roll. Slice roll into 12 even-sized pieces. Place paper cupcake liners on a cookie sheet and put one roll, cut side down/up, in each liner. Let rise until double in bulk, 30-40 mins. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for about 10 minutes, until tops are a dark golden brown.