Saturday, December 27, 2014

Julekake - A Norwegian Christmas Bread



The year comes to an end and along with it ends my first year with the We Knead to Bake bread baking group. I didn't manage to bake all the 12 breads of this year but I did quite a few - each one a new and interesting experience.

As I was making the Julekake, the chosen bread for December, I noticed how I was using ingredients, equipment, and various kitchen tools and toys that have come to me from a variety of people, some family and some friends, all spread across the globe. Each object is a connection and has created a tie, and as I went through the various stages and processes of making my Julekake I felt the ties get stronger as I measured, mixed, kneaded, scraped, poured and finally baked.

And I felt grateful for the Internet, for email and for Facebook, for these are the channels through which these ties were formed and I feel a flutter of happiness every time I open my packet of yeast, hear the clink of my measuring cups, fire up the KitchenAid, and dig through the pantry cupboard. My friends are with me.

I followed Aparna's recipe for Julekake with variations only for the filling and I left out the almonds and icing that are used as a topping on this bread/cake. I used pearl sugar to top my Julekake.

A simple though rich bread, it has a fine dense crumb which makes it cake-like. Call it cake or bread, the Julekake is one of the best recipes I've done with the We Knead to Bake group.

Julekake

2 tsp Instant yeast
1/4 cup water, warmed
1/2 cup milk, warmed
1 egg
50 gms butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
A large pinch of salt
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
2 1/2 cups white flour or maida
1 cup mixed peel and soaked fruit
1/4 cup pearl sugar

Bloom the yeast in the warm water with a little sugar. Though I use instant yeast I still like to bloom it before I chuck it into my flour to check that it is still active. This saves the remaining ingredients from getting wasted just in case the yeast is dead. I store my packet of instant yeast in the freezer where it stays well for many months and this little step at the beginning doesn't hurt.

In a large mixing bowl put in the egg, butter and sugar. Add the bloomed yeast mix and beat them all together. You can do this by hand or you can use an electric beater or your stand mixer. I used my stand mixer because I don't use it often enough! Add the flour and the cardamom powder and continue to mix. If using the stand mixer use the dough hook. Knead till you have a soft pliable dough that is smooth and stretches easily without breaking. If required, add dry flour or water to get the right consistency.

Roll out the dough like a pizza base and scatter the mixed peel and fruit, or whatever filling you are using. Raisins, or dried cranberries or any other dried berries will work quite well here. Cover the entire rolled out surface and then gather the dough together to form a ball by first rolling it into a swiss roll style roll and then bringing together into a ball. Knead it lightly by hand for a couple of minutes and try to ensure that the fruit is evenly distributed.

Oil a bowl and set the dough in it to rise. Cover with a damp dish cloth and leave it in a warm corner undisturbed, to double in volume. This should take an hour.

Once the dough has doubled deflate it gently and give it a light knead with your hands. Lay the dough ball on a greased baking try or on baking parchment on the tray and leave it to rise again, for around 45 minutes. The Julekake can also be put into a cake tin.

Brush the top with milk and then dot the surface with pearl sugar, or sliced almonds. You can also brush it with an egg wash. I prefer milk because you can't break half an egg ;)

Bake the Julekake for 25 to 30 minutes at 180C. Let it cool completely before you take it out of the cake tin in case your making it in a tin. Slice the Julekake once cooled and serve with coffee.


We Knead to Bake 2014

Marathon Bloggers Project 52

1 comment:

Priyanka Mitra said...

Lovely bread Rhea....

its so heartwarming to read about all your friends and the happiness they bring you. :)

Stay warm and blessed.

Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year to you