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.

Makes 1 (9×5-inch) loaf
  • 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)
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.)
  7. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  8. 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.)
  9. 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.
  10. Drizzle cooled loaf with Sugar Glaze. Store in a bread box or a somewhat airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.
*We used Platinum® Yeastfrom Red Star®.

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.


Sugar Glaze
Makes about ⅓ cup
  • 1 cup (120 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons (22.5 grams) whole milk
  1. In a small bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth and well combined. Use immediately.


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