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Today's Case

Swedish Christmas Bread

Re: Swedish Christmas bread
From: Virginia
Date: 12/16/2021, 8:05 AM

On 12/15/2021 8:58 PM, Virginia wrote:

Dear Uncle,
I have been searching for a Swedish Braided Christmas Bread sometimes 
also made at Easter. My grandmother called it a name sounding like Krantz. 
It had raisins, the crust was thick, and it was a white, relatively dense 
yeast bread. Can you please help me?

Hi Virginia,

Well, we have to expand our thinking a bit. The Swedish word "krans" means "wreath". It can refer to a wreath like a Christmas wreath that you put on your door, or a braided wreath of flowers that Swedes wear on their heads like a crown at the Midsummer celebration, or a braided bread that is often made at Christmas or Easter or in honor of Saint Lucia on her feast day(December 13). Even though it's called "krans" = "wreath", it is not always made into a ring shaped loaf. It may be simply a round loaf or even an oblong loaf that is not circular at all. Although "krans" means "wreath", over time it seems to have come to refer to "braided" as well. All of the recipes for "krans" or for† "Swedish Braided Bread" that I can find are for white yeast breads, and all are braided in one way or another. Most of them are also "cardamom bread" in that their main flavoring ingredient is the spice cardamom. However, some recipes call for cinnamon, and some call for both cardamom and cinnamon. These braided breads are by no means confined to Sweden. They are also popular holiday breads in Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, and other countries in Europe. The ingredients vary quite a bit. I found a few Swedish recipes for braided bread with raisins, but most do not have raisins. Many have almonds. There is a lot of variety, even in the Swedish recipes.

This recipe is braided and it contains raisins, but it is oblong, not ring-shaped: Swedish Cardamom Bread

This one is braided and ring-shaped, but it does not contain raisins: Swedish Braided Bread

This one is also braided and ring shaped: Grandma's Swedish Cardamom Bread

Your recipe is likely one of those recipes that varies from family recipe to family recipe. Finding a recipe exactly like your grandmother's might prove to be very difficult without knowing more particulars about her bread.

I will post this for reader input.


Thank you so much for your careful, detailed answer. You do an amazing job 
thatís so helpful. Iím guessing the missing ingredient in our attempt to 
duplicate the recipe is the cardamon. Thank you again for your significant help. 

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