My daughters love to bake and Christmas time is the perfect time to indulge that passion. We're always on the look out for new breads to try and at the suggestion of one of the Mums on the school run we attempted Scandinavian Julekage. She gave me a basic idea of the recipe and we based ours on that, with a few adaptations due to lack of ingredients and me only remembering some of what she said due to baby induced sleep deprivation. It took 3 attempts to develop a loaf I was happy with and I baked that several times just to make sure the recipe worked well.
Julekage (pronounced yoo-ley-key-yeh) is a popular Scandinavian Christmas fruit bread made from a dough enriched with butter and eggs. The dough is filled with candied fruit, such as tropical fruit and cherries. and spiced with cardamom. We used cranberries in our bread as I'd run out of glace cherries.
The bread was enthusiastically devoured once I had taken photos and I've made two loaves since, one for us to devour, and another to the school Mum who suggested we make it. I'm delighted to say it passed the taste test and she declared it to be delicious.
450g strong white bread flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp fast action yeast
1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom (you'll need seeds from around 15 pods)
80g butter, melted and cooled
2 free range eggs, beaten (I used large eggs)
150ml semi skimmed milk, lukewarm
150g dried tropical fruit
100g dried cranberries or roughly chopped glace cherries
75g icing sugar
1 Tblsp water, or more as needed
Combine the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, cardamom, milk, eggs and butter in a bowl. mix until a soft dough forms.
Either knead the dough on an unfloured surface or in a mixer until smooth and elastic, this took us about 10 - 12 minutes by hand. Knead the fruit into the dough until well incorporated. Cover the dough and leave to prove until doubled in size.
Line a 20cm (8 inch) cake tin with a double layer of non-stick baking paper, extending it 5cm (2 inches) above the top edge of the tin. I used two disposable cake tin liners and made a collar from a double layer of non-stick baking paper.
Knead the dough again to knock it back. Put the dough into your prepared cake tin, cover once again, then leave until the dough fills the tin and has almost reached the top of the tin.
Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas Mark 6.
Bake the loaf for 35 - 40 minutes. Cover the top of the loaf with a sheet of greased non-stick baking paper after 20 minutes cooking time, this stops the top of the loaf from getting a little too golden brown (burnt).
Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. When you tap the loaf on the bottom it should sound hollow. Make the icing and drizzle it over the top of the loaf, we sprinkled more dried fruit over the icing for a festive touch.