I got a wonderful email this morning. It was a picture of 2 of my great grandsons making nesua.
My granddaughter told them, “This is a recipe your great great grandfather brought with him from Finland.”
My father arrived at Ellis Island when he was 17 years old with no relatives in the U.S. He left Finland to avoid being drafted into the Russian Army.
Finland shares a border with Russia and has fought numerous wars with them. Each time, Russia got a little piece of Finland. When Russia took over the area where my father lived, he escaped to Denmark and got a job on a freighter going to America. I marvel at his courage at such a young age. He escaped with only a few clothes and a recipe. A recipe for Nesua.
Nesua is a cardamom flavored bread that all Finns love. We have handed it down from generation to generation. It is always an available treat at Christmas, Easter, birthdays and any other holiday. In the U.S., we’ve added a new custom. We now always serve it with Amish butter. Amish butter is pure with no preservatives. So, we toast the Nesua, spread it with the Amish butter and raspberry jam and are in hog heaven.
My children learned to make it when they were very young. I would set the dough and when it was ready, each one would get up to the table on a chair and braid their own dough to make a little loaf of Nesua. They loved making it and watching it rise and bake.
Then the really fun part, Nesua spread with Amish butter and raspberry jam served with a cup of coffee. Finns love their coffee. It doesn’t get any better.
As the years went by, my children perfected making Nesua from start to finish. When they were in college, they would bake loaves of it to give to friends for Christmas. It was a unique and delicious gift they could give their friends.
My granddaughter captioned the picture she emailed me with, “Raising up the next generation of Nesua helpers.”
I feel blessed and grateful to our great grandfather for this traditional family recipe.
So, Today I am happy to share our recipe with you. I hope you like it!
Nesua (This recipe makes 3 large or 4 medium size loaves.)
1 pkg. yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups milk, scalded and cooled
½ cup melted butter (you can cool the scalded milk by putting the butter in it to melt.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
4 beaten eggs
7-8 crushed cardamom seeds
8-9 cups flour
1 beaten egg mixed with 1 Tbs. water
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in cooled milk, melted butter, salt, sugar, eggs, cardamom and 2 cups of flour. Beat until smooth. Slowly add the rest of the flour until the dough is stiff. Knead until elastic. Grease a large bowl (with non-stick spray), place the dough in the bowl and turn it over to grease both sides. Let the dough rise 1 hour @ 85˚. Punch down the dough. Let it rise again for 30 minutes. Shape the dough into loaves. If you want to braid it like we do, divide the dough into three sections for three loaves. Divide each section into three pieces and roll each piece into a rope about 10 to 12 inches long. Braid three ropes together to form a loaf starting in the middle braiding outward each direction. Transfer the loaves on to baking sheets and let rise 45 to 60 minutes. Brush with beaten egg mixed with water. Bake at 350˚ for 25-30 minutes or until the loaves are golden brown. When they come out of the oven, brush each loaf with strong, sweet coffee and let it dry.
You can read more about June’s life story in her book, You Are Driving Me Crazy! sold on Amazon.