Norwegian Christmas Bread

 It was suggested to me that Norwegian Christmas Bread, known as Jukekake or Julekage would be a great addition to my Christmas baking.  So I checked out a few recipes and read up a little on the bread. It is very similar to some other Christmas breads, such as Panettone from Italy, and several other breads.  But it did look like something I would enjoy, so I decided to make it.  I am so glad that I did as the resultant bread tasted so good and reminded me, in texture of toasted teacakes and in flavour to hot cross buns which I love. 

My understanding is that the Norwegians, and the Danes who have virtually the same bread, eat this for breakfast in the lead up to Christmas, and also as an afternoon snack.  It is perfect for both of those.

The recipe is actually quite simple, but it does take a while as the dough is allowed to proof twice before being shaped and then it is allowed to rise again before baking.  But the effort isn’t very much, particularly if using a stand mixer, and is well worth it.

The recipe below will make two breads, in 8 inch sandwich cake tins.  For mine I iced one and left the other just with some pearl sugar on the top.  The iced one went to my niece and her husband and the report back was very favourable indeed.

I had intended to bake mine in just greased tins but as I hadn’t used the new ones before I was afraid that, although ther are anodised aluminium, they might not be non stick. So in the end I lined the base and sides with parchment paper, just to be sure.  So in the recipe below I suggest that too, though if using non-stick cake tins that should not be necessary.

My breads baked very well indeed and I enjoyed it so much that I shall make it again in time to have some for breakfast on Christmas morning as i start to prepare my turkey.

For a German celebration cake try Christmas Stollen Cake.

Norwegian Christmas Bread
Norwegian Christmas Bread

Ingredients:

  • 10g(3 tsp) dried active yeast
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) water, lukewarm
  • 320ml(1 1/3 cups)milk lukewarm
  • 75g(5 1/2 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g(1/2 Cup) caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 1/3 (66g) medium eggs(large in USA)
  • 640g(4 cups + 41/2 tsp) bread flour or plain flour
  • 100g(2/3 cup) sultanas
  • 115g(2/3 cup) chopped mixed peel
  • 2/3 of a medium egg(33g) + 1 tbsp water, for an egg wash
  • pearl sugar to sprinkle.
Method:
  1. Grease 2 8 inch sandwich cake tins, and line with parchment if they are not non-stick.
  2. Place the yeast and a teaspoon of sugar into the water and stir, then leave to activate, for about 10 minutes, until frothy.
  3. Place the milk, eggs, butter, sugar, salt and cardamom in the bowl of the stand mixer and mix with the paddle attachment or whisk.
  4. Add the activated yeast mixture and mix again.
  5. Then add just under half of the flour into the bowl and mix until combined and quite smooth.
  6. Add just under half the flour again and mix, this time with the dough hook, until you have a shaggy dough.
  7. Rest the dough for 15 minutes.
  8. Knead the dough on a medium speed, for 10 minutes, gradually adding as much of the remaining flour as needed to make a smooth, silky, dough.  (I used all mine).
  9. Add the fruits and knead again until they are well combined.
  10. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to proof , in a warm place, until doubled in size.
  11. Once the dough has doubled in size knock it down to release the gases and then cover again and allow to double in size.
  12. Take the dough out of the bowl and divide into two equal parts(about 770g).
  13. Form each part into a ball, creating some tension in it and place into the centre of the cake tins.
  14. Flatten a little to level the ball and then cover and allow to proog again until doubled in size.
  15. The dough should, ideally, spread to fill the surface of the cake tin.
  16. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/375F.
  17. Brush the top of the dough with egg wash and sprinkle over the pearl sugar.
  18. Place the dough into the oven and bake for 25 to 35 minutes until the top is nicely coloured and the inside is cooked to a temperature of about 99C/210F
  19. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

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