This braided bread recipe blends the spicy-sweet flavor of cardamom with a hint of orange. As a homemade gift, wrap in plastic wrap, tie with a bow, and place it in an attractive bread basket. To serve, slice and toast for breakfast or layer with sandwich makings.
In a large mixing bowl combine 2-1/2 cups of the flour, the yeast, and ground cardamom. In a saucepan heat and stir the 1 cup milk, the margarine or butter, sugar, and salt just until warm (120 degree F to 130 degree F) and margarine almost melts. Add to dry mixture in mixing bowl; add eggs, orange peel, and orange juice. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of remaining flour as you can.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough (3 to 5 minutes total). Shape dough into a ball. Place in greased bowl, turning once to grease surface of the dough. Cover; let dough rise in a warm place until double in size (about 1 hour).
Punch dough down. Divide dough in half. Divide each half in thirds; shape into 6 balls. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, grease 2 baking sheets.
Roll each ball to a 16-inch-long rope. Lay 3 ropes side by side and about 1 inch apart on a prepared baking sheet. Starting in the middle, loosely braid by bringing the left rope under the center rope. Next bring right rope under new center rope. Repeat to end. Braid other end by bringing alternate ropes over center rope. Press ends together to seal; tuck under. Repeat with remaining ropes. Cover; let rise in warm place until nearly double in size (30 to 40 minutes).
Using a fork, beat together the egg yolk and the 1 tablespoon milk. Brush braids with egg yolk mixture.
Bake bread in a 350 degree F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when lightly tapped. If necessary, cover loaves with foil the last 5 to 10 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning. Makes 2 loaves (32 servings).