Julekake / Julekaga ~ Norwegian Cardamom Scented Christmas Bread
For the dough:
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast * see notes
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
- 1 egg
- 50gm unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 1/4 cup sugar * see notes
- 1/4 tsp salt * see notes
- 4 to 5 pods of cardamom, powdered
- 2-1/2 cups all purpose flour (maida)
- 1/2 cup mixed candied fruit or peel (tutti frutti)
- 1/4 cup golden or dark raisins
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. * see notes
2. In a large mixing bowl add the egg, butter, sugar, salt and the yeast mixture and mix well. Add the flour and the cardamom powder 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). Keep 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 centre 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
1. If the yeast does not turn frothy discard the mixture and try again with a new package of yeast. If the yeast is old or beyond expiry it is pointless using it as the bread won’t rise very well or rise at all.
2. If you plan to use the icing, use just about 1/4 cup sugar (as per recipe above). If you won’t be using icing then you can increase the sugar to upto 1/2 cup (in total)
3. I used Amul salted butter so skipped the salt. Use the salt if you are using unsalted butter