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Recipe of the week: Julekake (Norwegian Christmas bread)

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Written by:
Recipe of the week: Julekake (Norwegian Christmas bread)

Julekake is a sort of sweet and rich wheat bread, leavened with yeast. It is flavoured with cardamom and often filled with dried and candied fruits. Julekake is traditionally served for Christmas with different toppings, which can be either sweet or savoury. I have also seen a few recipes flavoured with saffron, a bit like the Swedish Saint Lucy’s Day Saffron Buns.

150g butter
500ml milk
50g fresh yeast
650g strong wheat flour, plus extra for dusting
140g sugar
½tsp salt
2tsp ground cardamom
150g raisins or other dried or candied fruits
1 egg

Melt the butter slowly in a medium pan. Pour in the milk and warm very gently to a temperature of about 37ºC. Add the yeast and stir to dissolve.

Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the flour, sugar, salt and cardamom. Knead with the dough hook until the dough is shiny and smooth and comes away from the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and leave to rise for 30 minutes, or until almost doubled in size.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the dough on a lightly floured work counter and add the dried fruits. Work the dough by hand until the fruits are evenly incorporated. Divide the dough in half and shape into two large round buns. Place them on the prepared baking sheets. Cover with a clean dish towel and leave to rise for about 20 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 175ºC.

Egg wash

Crack an egg into what might seem an unnecessarily large bowl, before adding about half a quantity (the egg is one quantity) of milk. The easiest way of doing this is simply to measure the milk using one half of the eggshell. Whisk the egg and milk mixture for a few minutes, making sure that the mix is completely smooth and has no lumps at all. It will foam a bit but if you leave the mix to rest for a few minutes before using it, this will disappear.

Apply your egg wash in a thin layer using a pastry brush. One coating is enough; it just needs to glisten from egg to brown well, it doesn’t need to be soaking wet.

Brush the buns lightly with the egg wash and bake for 30-40 minutes. They should have a nice golden colour to them when ready.

Book review: The Nordic Baking Book by Magnus Nilsson >>

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