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Norwegian Julekake

Julekake (Norwegian Christmas Bread with Raisins and Candied Fruit)

Recipe by Daytona Strong, excerpted from my book Modern Scandinavian Baking
Course Bread
Cuisine Norwegian, Scandinavian
Servings 2 loaves


For the bread

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 cups scalded milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds crushed
  • 2 packets active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 2/3 cup sugar divided
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 to 3 cups dried or candied fruit (raisins, candied fruit, chopped maraschino cherries)
  • 1 beaten egg for brushing

For the icing

  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

For the topping

  • Sliced almonds


  • To make the bread, in a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the milk and scald. Remove from the heat and add the cardamom, letting the spice steep while the milk lowers in temperature to 110 degrees F.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the yeast with 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar and pour a little of the lukewarm milk over them. Let proof until it bubbles, 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the remaining milk, along with the eggs, remaining sugar, the orange zest, salt, and cinnamon. Add 5 cups of flour and gently mix, adding additional small amounts until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. (You may not need to use the full 6 cups of flour.)
  • Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes. Fold in the dried fruit and transfer to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Punch down the dough and separate into two equal portions. You can either place them in two greased 9-inch round cake pans, or form them into two braided loaves. Cover with clean tea towels and let rise again until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Brush the loaves with the beaten egg and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.
  • When cooled, to make the icing, sift the confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl, then add the milk, melted butter, and almond extract and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over the loaves, then scatter the sliced almonds on top. Let set before slicing.


Storage tip: Store extras wrapped in plastic at room temperature. When the bread starts to dry out, do yourself a favor and toast it, then smear it with butter, letting the butter melt into the cracks. Add geitost, too, if you have it. This is one of my favorite treats.
Keyword baking, bread, Christmas