This traditional Norwegian Christmas bread combines tender, enriched dough with the sweet scent of cardamom and cinnamon and then gets bejeweled with dried and candied
fruits and drizzled with a simple Sugar Glaze. Julekake packs a fruitcake-like taste without all the hassle, making it a delicious addition to breakfast, brunch, or even an afternoon cup of coffee or hot cocoa.
- 3½ to 3¾ cups (438 to 468 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
- ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 (0.25-ounce) package (7 grams) instant yeast*
- 2 teaspoons (6 grams) kosher salt
- 1¼ teaspoons (2.5 grams) ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground cinnamon
- ⅔ cup (160 grams) plus 1 tablespoon (15 grams) whole milk, divided
- 6 tablespoons (84 grams) unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup (80 grams) water
- 2 large eggs (100 grams), room temperature and divided
- ¼ cup (55 grams) roughly chopped candied orange peel
- ¼ cup (48 grams) assorted raisins, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup (40 grams) dried sweetened cranberries, roughly chopped
- Sugar Glaze (recipe follows)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 1 cup (125 grams) fl our, sugar, yeast, salt, cardamom, and cinnamon by hand until combined.
- In a medium saucepan, combine ⅔ cup (160 grams) milk, butter, and ⅓ cup (80 grams) water; cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted and an instant-read thermometer registers 120°F (49°C) to 130°F (54°C). Add warm milk mixture to fl our mixture; using the paddle attachment, beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add 1 egg (50 grams); beat at medium low speed until combined, about 1 minute, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. With mixer on low speed, gradually add 2½ cups (313 grams) flour, beating until combined.
- Switch to the dough hook attachment. With mixer on low speed, beat until a soft, slightly sticky, and elastic dough forms, 8 to 12 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl and dough hook; add up to remaining ¼ cup (31 grams) fl our, 1 tablespoon (8 grams) at a time, if dough is too sticky. (Dough may still stick to sides and bottom of bowl but should pass the windowpane test; see Note.) With mixer on low speed, gradually add orange peel, raisins, and cranberries, beating just until combined. (If you do not feel the mix-ins are well distributed by the mixer, you can use your hands to fold and squeeze the dough to help distribute the mix-ins more evenly.)
- Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 35 to 50 minutes.
- Punch down dough; cover and let stand for 10 minutes. On a very lightly floured surface, divide dough into 3 portions (about 340 grams each). Shape each portion into a ball, and gently roll between your hands to create a roughly oval shape; cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Place 1 portion seam side up. Flatten portion into about a 9×5-inch oval, making sure to press out and pop any air bubbles. Starting from one long side, fold dough, about ½ inch at a time, pressing to seal after each fold. Repeat until you have a tight cylinder. Roll cylinder into a 12-inch rope. Repeat with remaining portions. Braid ropes, pinching ends together and tucking under slightly to secure.
- Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Place braided dough in prepared pan; gently press braid into an even layer in pan. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 35 to 40 minutes. (It is OK if dough is puffed above rim of pan.)
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 1 egg (50 grams) and remaining 1 tablespoon (15 grams) milk. Brush top of dough with egg wash. (If any larger bubbles appear on dough’s surface, gently pierce and deflate before egg washing.)
- Bake for 12 minutes; loosely cover with foil, and rotate pan. Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), to 38 minutes more. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.
- Drizzle cooled loaf with Sugar Glaze. Store in a bread box or a somewhat airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.
Note: To use the windowpane test to check dough for proper gluten development, lightly flour hands and pinch off (don’t tear) a small piece of dough. Slowly pull the dough out from the center. If the dough is ready, you will be able to stretch it until it’s thin and translucent like a windowpane. If the dough tears, it’s not quite ready. Beat for 1 minute, and test again.
- 1 cup (120 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 1½ tablespoons (22.5 grams) whole milk
- In a small bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth and well combined. Use immediately.
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