Norwegian Christmas Bread (Julekake)

Julekake Norwegian Christmas bread

The Spruce / Viktoriya Stoeva

Prep: 45 mins
Cook: 50 mins
Rise Time: 110 mins
Total: 3 hrs 25 mins
Servings: 20 servings
Yield: 2 loaves
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
368 Calories
6g Fat
73g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 20
Amount per serving
Calories 368
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 2mg 1%
Sodium 225mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 73g 27%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 29g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 38mg 3%
Iron 2mg 13%
Potassium 97mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The inviting aroma of fresh-baked bread is a wonderful addition to the holiday season. Julekake is a traditional Norweigan Christmas bread with a woody cardamom scent and candied fruit, and it's a fantastic recipe to try. This yeasted bread has a fruitcake-like taste and feel, but it's much easier and quicker to make. Often enjoyed during Yuletide, this holiday loaf is a delicious addition to breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and is best when served warm or toasted with butter.

Originally, julekake was hearty rye bread, though modern recipes like this one prefer white flour. Cardamom gives the bread a warming spice, and you can use any candied fruit to make it as simple or colorful as you like. Raisins and candied citrus are most traditional; orange peels are a favorite, and lemon peels are a nice option. Anything you would add to fruitcake—including candied red and green cherries, pineapple, dates, and sultanas—are fun additions as well.

The julekake recipe makes two loaves. They can be stored at room temperature for a few days inside a plastic bag or wrapped in foil. Once cool, you can also freeze the bread; thaw loaves at room temperature, and heat gently for a few minutes in the oven.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup warm water

  • 2 packages rapid rise yeast

  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) margarine, or butter

  • 2 cups milk, plus more for brushing loaves

  • 8 cups flour, divided

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 2 cups mixed candied fruit

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Julekake
    The Spruce Eats / Viktoriya Stoeva
  2. In a large bowl, mix the yeast with warm water to dissolve. In a saucepan, gently heat the margarine or butter with the milk until the margarine melts.

    Butter in pan
    The Spruce Eats / Viktoriya Stoeva
  3. In a large bowl, combine 4 cups of the flour with the sugar, salt, and ground cardamom.

    Flour in bowl
    The Spruce Eats / Viktoriya Stoeva
  4. Add the yeast and margarine mixture, and combine with an electric mixer. Beat until the batter falls in sheets from beaters.

    Beat mixture
    The Spruce Eats / Viktoriya Stoeva 
  5. Stir in the candied fruit and gradually add the remaining flour.

    Stir in candied fruit
    The Spruce Eats / Viktoriya Stoeva
  6. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes.

    Knead the dough
    The Spruce Eats / Viktoriya Stoeva
  7. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place (80 to 85 F) until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

    Cover and let rise
    The Spruce Eats / Viktoriya Stoeva
  8. Punch down the dough and place on a pastry board.

    Punch down dough
    The Spruce Eats / Viktoriya Stoeva
  9. Shape into 2 loaves and place each in a greased 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan.

    Put dough into loaf pans
    The Spruce Eats / Viktoriya Stoeva
  10. Brush the tops of loaves with milk.

    Brush tops of loaves with milk
    The Spruce Eats / Viktoriya Stoeva
  11. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 to 50 minutes.

    Cover dough
    The Spruce Eats / Viktoriya Stoeva
  12. Bake at 375 F for 30 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned.

    Bake bread
    The Spruce Eats / Viktoriya Stoeva
  13. Serve and enjoy.

    Cut Julekake
    The Spruce Eats / Viktoriya Stoeva