Julekake (Christmas cake) is more what I think of as a cinnamon raisin loaf. It is a rich loaf filled with raisins and spices. In Norway, it starts to appear in bakeries at the beginning of November, but for me anytime is the perfect time for this comforting and fragrant loaf. It takes a bit of time to make, but there's nothing quite like the smell of warm spices and melting butter to make your mouth water and help you appreciate the small effort you have put into something so good.
Julekake (Cinnamon Raisin Loaf)
125g / 4 oz butter or margarine
400ml / 13.5 fl oz milk (whole or skimmed, it's your choice)
50g / 2 oz fresh yeast or 25g /1 oz dried yeast
600g / 1 lb 5 oz plain, all purpose flour. I use a standard multipurpose white flour
125g / 4 oz sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
175g / 6 oz raisins or sultanas
Beaten egg for glaze
Melt the butter and put to one side to cool slightly. Warm the milk to blood temperature and stir in the yeast.
Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl (if you are making this by hand) or in the bowl of your standing mixer. Gradually stir in the the butter and milk/yeast mix until you have a soft, but not too sticky dough. You may need to add a little extra milk. If you are using an electric mixer attach the dough hook and put it on a low speed for 10 minutes to knead. If you are making this by hand, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes as you would a bread dough. You should have an elastic, smooth but not too sticky dough. Knead in the raisins, shape into a ball, placing in a bowl. Cover with a warm damp cloth and leave to prove for about 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat your oven to 175C/350F
Once the dough has proved, gently knock it back (knead gently), divide into 2 and shape both halves into either round balls or elongated loaf shapes. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover again and let prove until double in size.
When the dough has proved a second time, carefully brush all over with the beaten egg and place in the centre of the oven for about 50 minutes until its a lovely golden brown and sounds slightly hollow when tapped on the bottom.
The temptation is to eat the julekake immediately, but it's much easier to slice when it's cooled for a little while. Served sliced and spread with butter. Julekake will keep for a few days, although it starts to dry out, but then it's delicious lightly toasted and served with butter and jam.
Vær så god!
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