Julekake (or Julekaka/ Julekaga) is a rich holiday bread flavoured with cardamom which is traditionally served at Christmas in many Scandinavian countries. It is particularly popular in Norway and Denmark. Incidentally, Julekake means “Yule Bread” in Norwegian. This bread is more cake-like in texture and sometimes it is dusted with powdered sugar or glazed with a white sugar icing. If it is not glazed or left plain, then it is usually served warm at breakfast with butter or a goat milk cheese called geitost/ brunost.
In Norway, Julekake traditionally only a lime green citrus peel called sukat is added along with the cardamom. Nowadays many people also add red and green cherries to reflect the colours of Christmas. Other popular additions are raisins, candied orange peel, and coloured candied peel. Some recipes for Julekake also feature almonds, but the main flavour in this bread comes from cardamom. You may choose to omit the candied fruit/ peel if you do not like it or cannot find it. Julekake must however feature raisins and cardamom. Those who do not use eggs may omit the egg in the recipe.
Julekake (Partially adapted from the Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas)
All purpose flour .. 2 and 1/2 cups (extra for dusting)
Active dry yeast .. 2 tsp
Luke warm milk .. 1/2 cup
Egg ...................... 1
Butter ................. 50 gms (room temperature)
Sugar ................. 1/4 cup
Salt ..................... 1/4 tsp
Cardamom powder . 1/4 tsp
Candied fruit ....... 1/2 cup
Dark raisins ......... 1/4 cup
Candied orange or lemon peel .. 1 tbsp
1 egg lightly beaten
1 tbsp milk
Pearl sugar or crushed sugar cubes / chopped almonds.
1/2 cup icing sugar
1-2 tbsps milk
1/4 tsp almond extract.
Note: If you are using icing on top reduce the sugar quantity in the ingredients to half ( 1/4 cup ) so that the bread is not too sweet.
Take 1/2 cup warm water and add a little sugar. Sprinkle the yeast on top without mixing and leave it in a warm place for a few minutes until it becomes frothy.
Take the flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and break the egg. Add the salt, sugar, cardamom powder.
Knead it with the help of yeast and warm milk incorporating butter little by little during the process.
Make a soft and pliable dough.
Remove the dough to a floured surface and knead gently for a few minutes.
Now roll it out or flatten with hands.Spread the candied fruits, raisins and candied peel evenly.
Roll it like a swiss roll and knead it gently again so that the fruit mix is evenly mixed into the dough.
Make it like a round ball. Place it in a greased bowl covering with a cling film or aluminium foil.
Leave it in a warm place until it is doubled. This takes about an hour and half. In winter it takes longer time.
Take the risen dough and again knead it lightly to make a round ball.
Place this in a greased baking tin or any loaf tin.
If you are using egg wash then brush the top surface and sprinkle the almond slices or sprinkle the crushed icing sugar. But if you plan to use the icing on top skip this step.
Bake at 180 C (350 F) for 25 - 30 minutes until the bread is golden brown and done. Half way through baking cover the bread with a foil to avoid it from further browning.
If you are icing the cake remove it from the mould and allow it to cool before doing it.
WE Knead To Bake # 23 Julekake - My Diverse Kitchen