A staple in Norway’s Christmas celebration, Julekake (Norwegian Christmas Bread), is a deliciously soft bread that you can easily make at home. Even without a stand mixer — give it a try!
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The literal translation of ‘Julekake‘ is Christmas Cake, but as you can see, it’s more of a bread than a cake. So, calling it ‘Julebrød‘ will also work.
Similar to Italy’s Panettone, it’s a soft, yeasted bread with dried or candied fruits.
But you know what makes this Nordic treat different? The taste and smell of cardamom. Simply heavenly.
It’s traditionally served with coffee, but I prefer it with mulled wine. 🙂
WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE NORWEGIAN CHRISTMAS BREAD
CAN I USE ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR?
You can, but I strongly suggest you use bread flour to get a fluffier result.
CAN I USE OTHER SPICES?
Yes, you can add some cinnamon and nutmeg if you want.
But do NOT skip the cardamom — it’s the only spice that’s used traditionally.
HOW TO MAKE JULEKAKE
Start by combining a lukewarm cup of milk with yeast (photo 1).
Mix and set aside until foamy.
In a mixing bowl, combine and mix flour, sugar, salt, and ground cardamom (photo 2).
Once the yeast mixture is ready, add it into the dry ingredients.
Add melted butter (photo 3).
Mix until you get a smooth dough.
Place the ball of dough in an oiled bowl (photo 4).
Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside until size has doubled (about 90 minutes).
Punch the dough in the middle to deflate and flatten to add the raisins (photo 5).
Knead the dough again (manually) and form it back into a ball. Place the dough on top of a baking pan lined with a baking paper (photo 6).
Cover with a towel; set aside until it has increased in size (about 30-45 minutes).
When the dough is just about ready, preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
Prepare the egg wash by combining the egg and the tablespoon of milk (photo 7).
Once the dough is ready, brush it with egg wash (photo 8).
Place the baking pan in the oven for thirty-five to forty minutes, or until the top has turned into a darker color.
Set aside to cool a bit, then serve.
TOP TIPS IN MAKING THIS CHRISTMAS BREAD RECIPE
- You can use a mix of raisins and satsumas, or other candied fruits if you prefer.
- If you want a hint of liquor, you can soak the raisins in the alcohol for 10-15 minutes, and then drain them before adding to the dough.
- If you can find them, use cardamom seeds and ground them yourself. They are more flavorful and fragrant than the ones in powdered form.
- Feel free to split the dough into two smaller loaves, if that’s how you want to serve it.
HOW TO SERVE JULEKAKE?
Butter. Just serve it with butter — that’s how we do it.
Or you can toast the slice, but still spread some butter on it. Yum!
IF YOU WANT MORE EUROPEAN CHRISTMAS TREATS, YOU MIGHT LIKE:
- Swedish Saffron Cake
- German Baked Marzipan Bites
- Polvorones (Spanish Christmas Cookies)
- Swedish Saffron Buns (Lussekatter)
- German Flourless Christmas Cookies (Elisenlebkuchen)
OR IF YOU WANT TO GET MORE IDEAS FOR MAKING HOMEMADE BREAD, THEN HEAD STRAIGHT TO MY BREAD COLLECTION!
Norwegian Christmas Bread (Julekake)
For the Dough:
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp cup butter, unsalted & melted
- 1 cup milk, lukewarm
- 1 & 1/2 tsp active dry yeast, heaping
- 2 & 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cardamom seeds, freshly ground
- 1/2 cup raisins, heaping
For the Egg Wash:
- 1 small egg
- 1 tbsp milk
Preparing the Dough:
- Combine yeast with a lukewarm cup of milk. Mix and set aside until foamy.
- Using the stand mixer bowl, combine and mix flour, sugar, salt, and cardamom.
- Add the yeast mixture and melted butter.
- Mix until you get a smooth dough. (Manual kneading of the dough is also ok if you don't have a stand mixer).
Proofing the Dough:
- Form the dough into a ball and place it into a large oiled bowl.
- Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside until double in size. It usually takes about 90 minutes for me.
- Deflate the dough by punching in the middle and use your hands to flatten it on the counter-top.
- Add the raisins and knead a bit to incorporate evenly.
- Form the dough into a ball again; place it on top of a baking tray, lined with a baking paper.
- Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and set aside for about 30-45 minutes, or until it has slightly increased in size.
Baking your Christmas Bread:
- When the dough is almost ready, preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Combine egg with a tablespoon of milk for your egg wash.
- Remove the kitchen towel covering the dough and brush the top and sides evenly with egg wash.
- Place the tray in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top has turned into a darker color.
- Set aside to cool a bit.
- Slice, then serve.
- You can use all-purpose flour if that's what you have. But the result is better with bread flour.
- Sultanas and other candied fruits can also be added if you prefer.
- You can use a bit of liquor by soaking the raisins in it for 10-15 minutes and then drain them before adding to the dough.
- If you can, buy cardamom seeds and ground them yourself, instead of purchasing the powdered one. The difference in aroma and flavor is noticeable.
- Split the dough into two small loaves if that's how you want to serve it.