Julekake is a Norwegian Christmas bread that was a must for us during the Christmas season. The wonderful smell of cardamom (the key ingredient in the bread) would fill the house with wonderful smells that screamed Christmas is here! Since this was a tradition every Christmas, my uncles Ole and Roy (Mom’s brothers) would know when it would be out of the oven on certain days and pop in for bread and coffee. I am trying to keep that tradition alive with my own version by not adding the red and green cherries that I would always pick out leaving me with not much bread. Instead I replaced them with raisins that I love and my kids do as well. If you want to add nuts or other types of fruit feel free to mix it up you way! Normally citron is added and cinnamon is not added. Since this is my Mother’s recipe and the one I grew up with that is how I make it with a few tweaks of my own. Serve as is, with butter as shown or some Norwegians serve with brown sweet goat cheese or orange marmalade. God Jul!
2 cups of 2% milk
2/3 cups of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of butter
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
2 packages of active dry yeast
1/2 cup of water
2 eggs beaten
10 cups of flour more or less depending on consistency plus extra for kneading
2 teaspoons of ground cardamom (more if desired)
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (more if desired)
2 cups of raisins (more if desired) OR 1 cup of raisins and 1 cup of packaged green and red cherries
Non-stick cooking spray
In a small pan heat the milk until tiny bubbles form around the edges and remove from heat. Add sugar, butter and salt. Stir until butter is melted. Cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle yeast over water in a large bowl, stir until dissolved. Stir in milk mixture. Add eggs, 2 cups of flour and cardamom and beat until smooth. Add remaining flour and mix until it forms a dough consistency. Stir in raisins and other fruit if desired. Remove dough from bowl and on a floured surface knead until smooth and elastic about 5 minutes. Do not over knead or bread will be tough. Spray a large bowl with non-stick cooking spray and spray top of dough and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for about 1 to 1/2 – 2 hours or until doubled in size. On a floured surface, knead dough again and divide dough into 2 large loaf pans or 3 medium loaf pans sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Cover and let rise again for about 1 to 1/2 – 2 hours or until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spray top with non-stick cooking spray and bake for about 20 – 30 minutes or until tops are a golden brown. Allow to cool. Eat as is or with butter as we did or try another Norwegian tradition and serve with sweet goat cheese or orange marmalade.