Page 49 - WCM Summer 2022
P. 49

  Not Youour Grandma’s Nissu
Recipes by Oxford Hills Technical School Culinary Arts Program, Written by Norma Smith, Photos by Squash Pie Graphics
The delightful aroma of cardamom steeping in warm cream whisks me back to my childhood. My mother had a few Finnish lady friends who made Nissu, a traditional braided sweet bread, dripping with a sugary icing. The Oxford Hills area is home to many Finnish families, and talented Oxford Hills Culinary students have honored them by creating a Nissu recipe all their own.
As the Culinary Arts instructor for Oxford Hills Technical School, every day I teach students who prepare and create both basic and complex dishes of all kinds. Once a year, they brainstorm recipes for homemade baked goods for our holiday staff bake sale, and create fabulous new treats that will really dazzle. Nissu bread was a popular request, and I assumed that we could just start creating our own interpretation by pulling a recipe off the internet. But after reading at least a dozen different versions, I realized that the recipes are extremely personal, made specific to each family. Like homemade spaghetti sauce, everyone has their own adaptation, and every- one feels theirs is the best!
I reached out to old friends and their moms to see if they would be willing to share their coveted formulas. My mom talked of recipes in our family that were lost because the cook didn’t want everyone else to know their special ingredient or methods. I truly expected some push back, assuming a close guard on those secrets. This was absolutely not the case here. I was bombarded with multiple versions, with all the secret methods and ingredients added, scribed into complete recipes from years past. What a wonderful gift that was given to the students! We made each recipe on its own merit, and tasted and discussed flavors, textures and glazes. Once we found one that we felt had the right texture, we tested a combination of flavors and glazes from almost every recipe we had. Chloe, a second year student, was top notch at braiding the bread, and along with my co-instructor Erik, they were able to achieve the perfect look.
Along the way, I was also told that Nissu makes delicious French toast as well. Childhood stories revealed many mornings with the smell of cardamom and sweet maple wafting throughout the house. With that challenge in front of us, we moved on to craft- ing strawberries and Maine maple syrup, yielding a
rich red ambrosia, a delightful accompaniment to a breakfast dish, ice cream, or even beverages.
These recipes were created by the Oxford Hills Technical School Culinary Arts Program, and celebrate both the flavor of Nissu, and the heritage of our Finnish neighbors.
1 cup half and half cream
6 ounces butter, cut into pieces. 1 Tablespoon ground cardamom 2 teaspoons lemon zest (fine)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
2⁄3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package dry yeast (2 1⁄4 tsp.)
1⁄2 cup warm water (110 degrees) 6 cups all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
Directions: In a saucepan or microwave, warm the cream and butter until butter is melted. Remove from heat and add the cardamom, lemon zest and vanilla.
Set aside to cool. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and salt together until blended smooth. Add the water and yeast mixture, mix well, Add the Cream mixture, mix well. Add the flour, 2 cups at a time, mixing with rubber spatula. When all flour is added, turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Dough should not be sticky,
if so add a bit more flour. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, put dough in a bowl, and coat all sides with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. Punch the dough down and divide into either 2 or 4 sections(depending if you want 2 large loaves or 4 small- er ones). Divide each section into 3 parts. Roll each part into equal length ropes, and braid the 3 ropes together to form a single loaf. Place loaves on parchment lined baking sheets, and brush each with the melted butter. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise again until double in volume. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees. Over baking will produce drier bread. When loaves have finished baking and are still warm, brush each loaf liberally with the coffee glaze. Cool, slice and enjoy! 49

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