For the bread:
- 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon whole milk, divided
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 packets (2 1/4 tsp each) active dry yeast
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 2 eggs, divided
For the icing:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 to 2 teaspoons whole milk
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk 2 cups milk and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add butter and stir until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly until warm, about 115 degrees F. Stir in yeast until dissolved; let stand 5 minutes until mixture is slightly foamy from the activated yeast.
- In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine milk mixture, 2 cups flour, salt, cardamom and 1 egg on low speed until just combined. Stir in 3 more cups flour until just incorporated, then stir in enough of remaining 1 cup flour just until dough pulls away from sides of bowl and forms a soft, smooth, elastic and only slightly sticky ball (if mixing by hand, you can use a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms, then turn the dough out onto a floured countertop and gently knead until dough is soft, smooth, elastic and only slightly sticky).
- Lightly grease a large bowl. Gently shape dough into a ball, then place in greased bowl; turn dough once to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let dough rise in a warm place 1 hour until doubled.
- Punch down risen dough in bowl. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface. Knead dough gently 1 minute, then cover with a clean tea towel. Let rest 10 minutes.
- Divide dough into 6 equal portions. Roll each portion into 15-inch-long rope. Line up ropes 3×3. Pinch ends of each group of 3 to seal. Gently but tightly braid each grouping to form 2 braided loaves. Pinch other end of each loaf to seal braid, and tuck pinched ends under on both sides. Transfer each loaf to its own parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover with a clean tea towel and let rise 30 minutes.
- Heat oven to 375 degrees F. In a small bowl, whisk 1 egg and remaining 1 tablespoon milk. Brush egg wash evenly over tops of each loaf. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until loaves are baked through and deep golden brown on top. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.
- When loaves are cool, make the icing: In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar and enough milk to form a thick but drippy glaze. Use a fork or spoon to drizzle glaze evenly over cooled loaves. Allow icing to set before slicing.