It’s Day 4 of the 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas and we’re making Julekage! For some reason, I think of this is as a Norwegian bread. This was a sweet Christmas bread that Grandma really liked. She probably made it back in the day, but this is a recipe I have made for a long time. This recipe is from the Better Homes and Gardens Creative Cooking Library series of cookbooks that my mom had years ago. It’s in the book Birthdays and Family Celebrations and the bread is called Sugarplum Bread. Grandma always called it Julekage, so that’s what we call it, too. It’s not an official Scandinavian recipe, but I’m sure the recipes are similar. I’ve seen it called Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish, so it’s truly Scandinavian!
There’s no better bread for my family’s leftover Christmas ham sandwiches!
Here is the recipe as I made it:
Soften in 1/2 cup warm water:
2 packages of active dry yeast
1 cup milk, scalded
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening (I used butter)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Cool to lukewarm.
2 cups flour (you’ll need 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 cups total)
1 teaspoon lemon peel
Beat until smooth.
2 eggs, beaten
The softened yeast
1 1/2 cups mixed diced candied fruits and peels
Enough of remaining flour, or enough to make a soft dough
Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic (6-8 minutes).
Place in lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the surface.
Cover and let rise in warm place until double (about 2 hours).
Divide dough in half and round each into a ball.
Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
Place round loaves on greased baking sheet and pat tops to flatten slightly.
Cover and let rise until almost double (about 1 1/2 hours).
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes (cover tops with foil after 15-20 min to prevent over browning).
Cool on rack.
While slightly warm, glaze with frosting of 2 cups powdered sugar mixed with 3-4 Tablespoons milk.
Decorate with bits of red and green candied cherries or sprinkles.
Here we go – melting the butter in the hot milk with the sugar and salt. There are what seems like a lot of steps to this bread, but it’s worth it in the end!
Here are the add-ins: softened yeast, beaten eggs, and chopped candied fruit (I used just cherries instead of fruit and peels).
Here is what it looks like after adding the first 2 cups of flour.
This is with the added chopped fruit.
Here we are at the point where we’ve added everything and we’re starting to knead. Since I use my big mixer, the kneading part is when you put on the dough hook.
Here is the dough ready to rise and then punched down after rising.
This shows the dough before and after baking. Again – the house will smell so good when this is baking!
I tend to decorate this with sprinkles instead of the candied cherries, but either way is just fine. You can freeze it with the frosting on, or leave it off until you are ready to serve it. You can make it as festive as you want to. It’s so pretty and so delicious! You’ll love this bread that’s great with leftover Christmas ham or turkey. It’s even great toasted. Enjoy!