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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Bread

I'm a mutt. I'm a Scottish-German-Swedish-Czech American. Hubby throws some Finland and Norway into the mix, so Young One is a real combination.
We celebrate the season with bits and pieces from all of our nationalities.
This simple Christmas bread is part of both of our childhoods. My mom always bought it and I have to say I never really liked it as a kid. Too much "weird stuff" in it. It took me many years to overcome my candied citron phobia. My father-in-law makes a particularly tasty loaf, and while mine is nowhere near the deliciousness of his, it's pretty darn close. It's delicious with your Christmas Eve meal and even better, toasted for Christmas breakfast the next day!
Some people frost this bread, but I prefer to top it with organic cane sugar. It melts into sweet, crispy goodness making the top of the loaf sparkle. The cardamom is absolutely necessary, so don't leave it out!

Yes, the name (pronounced Yool-Ka-Ga) will cause young children to giggle. Some say, Yool-Ka-Ka, but that is what made me laugh hysterically as a child. I still can't order a PuPu platter with a straight face. Sweet, dense, cardamom spiced dough heavy with golden raisins and candied fruit. Call it Christmas bread, call it Julekaka, just be sure to call me when you make it!
1 (.25 ounce) package active
dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110
degrees to 115 degrees)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup butter softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup diced citron or mixed
candied fruit

glaze: 1 egg, beaten and raw cane sugar

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add sugar, egg, butter, salt, cardamom and 2 cups flour; mix well. Stir in raisins, citron and enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to greased top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down; divide in half. Shape each portion into a flattened ball. Place in two greased 9-in. round baking pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Beat an egg until frothy. Paint the loaves with beaten egg and sprinkle liberally with raw cane sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to cool on wire racks.

Freezes well.

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