t’s the end of yet another year, and I am wondering just where this year ran off to. It really seems like not too long ago that I was at the beginning of the year trying to remember I had to end my dates with “14”! Not that I am complaining, as I would rather live through a year.
that galloped along pretty quickly than one that meandered about aimlessly. I must admit that my 2014 was quite eventful in many ways, but I’m not about to do a re-cap of the year that was. I’ll leave that to others who have a better way with words than I do.
Instead I’ll tell you about the bread I chose for the We Knead To Bake group to bake this December. This is a month when most people (and bakers for sure), are busy in the kitchen planning, shopping and cooking up a storm for the festive season so I knew that the last thing the group members wanted was a bread that they needed to spend time and effort on. So I chose a festive Christmas bread that was just what the season demanded in terms of being easy to make but great on taste.
Julekake (or Julekaka/ Julekaga) is a rich holiday bread flavoured with cardamom, and is traditionally served at Christmas in many Scandinavian countries. It is particularly popular in Norway and Denmark. Incidentally, Julekake means “Yule Bread” in Norwegian.
This bread is more cake-like in texture because it is made from enriched dough. It is left plain or sometimes is dusted with powdered sugar or glazed with a white sugar icing. If it is not glazed or left plain, then it is usually served warm at breakfast with butter or a Norwegian caramelised brown goat milk cheese called Gjeitost/ Brunost.
In Norway, Julekake traditionally only a lime green citrus peel called sukat is added along with the cardamom. Nowadays many people also add red and green cherries to reflect the colours of Christmas. Other popular additions are raisins, candied orange peel, and coloured candied peel. Some recipes for Julekake also feature almonds, but the main flavour in this bread comes from cardamom.
I know that many people dislike candied fruit/ peel, so you may leave that out, though I feel it would probably add to the flavour of this bread to substitute that with some lemon/ lime zest. Julekake however, isn’t Julekake unless it features raisins and cardamom.
I chose to leave my Julekake plain, without the glaze or the icing. If you make it this way and have leftovers (not very likely), try using them to make an interesting French toast.
(Partially adapted from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas)