Julekake which means 'Yule Bread' in Norwegian is a rich and aromatic bread that is traditionally prepared during the Christmas season in many Scandinavian countries especially Norway. This bread is more like a cake than a bread as it is so rich with dried /candied fruit and so some people frost/ dust it with icing/sugar glaze and garnish it with chopped almonds or crushed sugar candy or more candied fruit on top. With a crumb that is pretty dense and delicious bits of candied fruit included in it, it is a perfect festive bread.
Julekake involves candied fruit, nuts and cardamom for flavor or spice. However some recipes call for nutmeg or cinnamon. When left plain (without sugar glaze) it is usually served warm with butter, cheese, jam or jelly. The two ingredients that are a must in this bread are raisins and cardamom to make it “Norwegian Jule Kake/Kage.
I make this throughout the year and Love the smell as it is baking and, always, the flavor! It can be made with or without the candied fruit, toasted and enjoyed warm with butter for your breakfast. Leftovers, if any, can be transformed into a delicious french toast and enjoyed with a cup of coffee!,
Var så god!
For the dough:
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp. cardamom, ground or crushed fine from pods
2-1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup citron
1/4 cup red cherries (chopped)
1/4 cup green cherries (chopped)
For the glaze:
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp milk
Sugar candy/pearl sugar or crushed sugar cubes and/ or slivered almonds
For the icing:
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon cream or milk
¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 tablespoon slivered almonds (optional)
1. First, activate the yeast by placing it in a small bowl. To it, add the lukewarm water, lukewarm milk and 1 teaspoon sugar (from the 1/4 cup sugar) and mix everything together and keep aside for 10-15 mins or until the mixture turns frothy.
2. In a large mixing bowl add the egg, butter, sugar, salt and the yeast mixture and mix well. Add the
flour and ground cardamom to it and knead until you get a soft, pliable and elastic dough. If the dough is too sticky add a little extra flour or if it feels too hard dab your fingers in water and continue kneading till you get a soft dough.
3. Take the dough out and flatten it into a largish round. Sprinkle the candied fruit and raisins evenly and then roll it up, swiss roll style, knead the dough lightly and roll it up into a ball.
4. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and cover the bowl loosely with a tea towel. Keep in a warm place to rise until double in volume, about an hour or so.
5. When done, lightly knead the dough and shape it again into a ball. Place it on a baking tray lined with parchment (or you can also use a cake or loaf tin). Let it to rise for another 45 minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and lightly brush the surface of the dough with the egg wash (beaten egg) or with milk if you want to skip the egg. If you are not going to use the icing sprinkle crushed sugar cubes or slivered almonds on top and bake for about 30 minutes till the bread is golden brown on top. Cover the bread with foil after 15 minutes into the baking time if you feel that it is browning too fast on the surface.
7. Remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
8. For the icing, mix the ingredients together until you get a thick pouring consistency and pour in the center of the bread - the mixture will dribble along the sides forming a pretty design. Place a tray under the rack to collect the excess icing mixture. Sprinkle chopped almonds or candied peel over it. Let the icing set before serving