Sweet Happy Life

Cardamom Tiger Bread

A few days ago I shared a picture on Facebook showing cardamom “tiger” bread that the munchkin and I made. Folks seemed to like it and I even received emails requesting the recipe so, here it is! (If you want to see other animal shapes, I’ve posted instructions for teddy bear challah and turkey bread before. You might say we have a thing for playing with bread dough.)

Though we usually make animals out of challah, last week I decided to introduce my son to one of my favorite flavors: cardamom. This spice is popular in Middle Eastern and Scandinavian food, but for toddler/preschooler purposes here’s what you need to know: cardamom tastes a bit citrusy and smells like flowers. :)

To make the tiger shown above, we made a slightly modified version of Pulla (Cardamom Coffeebread), then shaped it into a cat-like shape. We used raisins for the eyes, nose and mouth and a mixture of confectioners sugar and warm milk to make the stripes. This was a fun activity that had only the usual hiccups that arise when baking with a 2-year-old. Namely: flour everywhere and my trying to convince him to put the raisins on the bread instead of into his mouth. Ditto with the tiger strips.

We had a bit of leftover dough after we made our tiger, which we used to make a loaf of mini braided bread. If you also have leftover dough and want to make a braid, you can use the resulting bread for breakfast toast the next morning or even to make mini French toast.

What our tiger looked like before baking.

Things the munchkin likes to do when making breads like this:

  • Measure ingredients & pour them into the bowl.
  • Knead the dough on the countertop.
  • Shape the dough into the different parts of the animal.
  • Wet the dough with water before attaching each piece.
  • Place the raisins on the dough to make the face.
  • Drizzle the sugar glaze over the baked bread.


Cardamom Tiger Bread
A delicious cardamon spiced bread shaped like a tiger. Adapted from the Pulla recipe in “The Great Scandinavian Baking Book” by Beatrice Ojakangas.
For the Dough
  • 1 packages active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ¾ cups warmed whole milk
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 3½ – 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • About 4 raisins
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (for greasing)
For the Glaze
  • 1 slightly beaten egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
For the Tiger Stripes
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • About 2 tablespoons warmed milk
Make the Dough
  1. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the ½ teaspoon sugar, stir, and let stand for 5 minutes until yeast foams.
  2. Add the milk, sugar, salt, cardamom and eggs, stirring to combine well. Add the butter and half the flour, mixing until the dough is smooth and shiny. Add the remaining flour ½ cup at a time, until the dough is stiff but not dry.
  3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until satiny and smooth, about 10 minutes. (We did 5 minutes of kneading in the stand mixer with a hook attachment, then about 4 minutes by hand. The munchkin loves to knead dough, but not for 10 minutes.)
  4. Transfer dough to a large bowl greased with about 1 teaspoon of olive oil or baking spray. Turn the dough to grease the top, then cover loosely with saran wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 to 1½ hours.
Shape the Tiger
  1. Turn the risen dough out onto a counter top, punch it down and then divide in half. One of these halves will be the body of your tiger. Roll the dough into a big ball shape, then stretch the top of the dough with your thumbs, tucking the dough under itself so as to form a smooth surface.
  2. Now cut the other portion of dough in half again. Use half of that dough for the tiger’s head, again rolling it into a ball and stretching the surface of the dough. Attach the “head” to the “body” by wetting your fingers with a bit of water and gently patting the water onto both pieces of dough where they are going to connect.
  3. Use the rest of your dough to make the tiger’s legs, tail and ears. We guesstimated how much dough to use for each of these. We’d just cut off pieces of dough that looked about the right size, then roll them into a long rope for the tail, short ropes for the legs, and little balls for the ears. Again, use water to wet the dough and attach the pieces.
  4. To make the tiger’s face, I used a small knife to cut little slits in the tiger’s head where I thought the eyes, nose and mouth should go. Then I cut the raisins in half and we pushed them into the slits.
  5. Use any leftover dough to make a mini braided loaf (divide into three pieces, roll into ropes and braid).
  6. Cover loosely with saran wrap and allow to rise for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Bake and Add the Stripes
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk 1 egg with 2 tablespoons of milk. Brush this mixture over the bread dough, then bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden, or a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  3. Once the bread has finished baking, allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes. Then combine the confectioners sugar with about 2 tablespoons of warm milk, mixing well. The glaze should be thick but pourable. Using a spoon, drizzle the sugar mixture over the tiger to make the stripes. Let the stripes set for at least 5 minutes, then dig in.

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