The following recipe is from The Neighborhood Bakeshop cookbook, by Jill Van Cleave, William Morrow, 1997. Jill Van Cleave has written other cookbooks on cookies and icing. This book is a collection of 125 recipes from local-style bakeries around the country.

This Christmas loaf appears in Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian bakeries all over the country during the month of December. Scented with cardamom, threaded with candied fruit, and topped with a vanilla glaze, Yulekage is a treat served on any occasion. It also makes excellent toast.

yulekage (scandinavian christmas bread)

Yield: 1 loaf


  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water (95 to 110°)
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk (95 to 110°)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, or more to taste
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 to 3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup mixed chopped candied citron and candied orange peel
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sprinkle the yeast over the lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl. Let proof until bubbly, about 5 minutes.

Combine the milk, sugar, cardamom in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then stir the combination intro the proofed yeast mixture. Beat in the egg, salt, lemon zest, and butter. Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir in the candied fruit and walnuts. Add 1/2 cup more of the flour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently knead the soft dough until it feels smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, adding only as much of the remaining 1/4 cup flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Transfer to a large greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Return the dough to the work surface and roll it out into a 10-inch square. Fold one side of the dough a third of the way over the square, then fold the opposite side on top to cover completely. Place seam side down, with the short ends tucked underneath, into a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and gently press the dough down to fill the pan evenly. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature to rise until the dough almost reaches the top of the pan, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Bake loaf for about 45 minutes, until golden brown. Unmold the loaf and cool on a wire rack.

For the glaze, combine the egg white, sugar, and vanilla in a small dish. Beat with a fork to blend. Brush generously over the top of the loaf while still warm. Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.

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