Gigi has a strong Swedish heritage in her family, and Julekage is a traditional Christmas bread she grew up with. Every Christmas morning kids were allowed to discover their Santa presents, and unload their stockings, and then the whole family would have Julekage and juice before opening the rest of the presents. The flavor reminds her of the holiday and the anticipation of more gifts. It’s delightful toasted and needs no glaze or frosting as the candied fruit is just sweet enough to start the morning off right! Our children and Grandchild have come to expect it, and now we send it up to Minnesota for Gigi’s Mom and sister and family to enjoy.
You will need:
1 package dry yeast
¼ cup warm water (105-115 degrees) think bath water, NOT TOO HOT!
¾ cup lukewarm milk – scalded and then cooled
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup shortening
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup candied fruit – like one would use for fruitcake
3 ¼ – 3 ½ cups white all purpose flour
¼ cup milk + 2 tablespoons sugar mixed
In a large microwaveable measuring cup, scald your milk and set aside to cool. This takes a very long time, so plan ahead…at least 30 minutes before you begin building your bread.
We used our Kitchenaid mixer with the paddle first, and then the dough hook and it was a no muss, no fuss easy way to do it. You can surely mix it by hand if you want.
Dissolve the yeast into the warm water in the bowl. You can add a little of the ¼ cup of sugar to give it some “food” to eat.. Yeast is ALIVE!
Add the cooled milk, sugar, salt egg, shortening and fruit and 2 cups of the flour.
Beat on low speed for a minute or so until things start to look blended. Stop the mixer and scrap the sides down and beat again on low to medium for 2 minutes.
Switch to the dough hook, scrape down the bowl and add about a half cup more flour, “knead”, adding more flour sparingly until the dough balls up and becomes smooth and elastic. You will find you will stop the mixer every minute or so to feel the dough. Total time will be around 5-7 minutes.
Grease a LARGE bowl with some more of the shortening, and place the dough ball inside, covering with a clean cloth and let it rest until it’s doubled in size. This will take about an hour to an hour and a half. Push down on the dough with one finger after about an hour, if the indentation remains, it’s ready.
Punch the dough down with a fist a couple times to deflate… get out some aggression, it’s often a sturdy dough that needs some manhandling. Don’t pay attention to how old Gigi’s hand looks!
Form it into a round loaf and place in a greased 9 inch round pan.
Melt a Tablespoon or so of butter and brush the top and let rise until doubled. About another 45 minutes.
Place in a 350 degree oven and bake until golden brown – about 35-45 minutes. The bottom, when knocked on should sound hollow.
Transfer to a wire rack, brush with the milk and sugar mix and allow to cool to room temp before putting in a bag until service.
This freezes well.