Friday, December 24, 2010

Julekage

This is my second year making Julekage (Norwegian Christmas Bread) for teachers' holiday gifts.  My mother used to make the loaves of sweet, breakfast bread for my teachers growing up and I decided it was a perfect solution to the question of what to give to the many people who help us throughout the year.  Last year, I made one batch (four loaves) and although it was a long, slow process, I felt the bread came out well and I felt adventurous enough to try it again.  This time, however, I figured out that between the three elementary teachers, the nurse who gives Henry his weekly allergy shots, the kids' tutor, my pilates instructor (who is Norwegian, too!) and the two ladies I take pilates with, I needed eight loaves.  Was I up to the task of making two batches?  I wasn't so sure, but I figured it was worth a try.


I started out with all the ingredients (well, after I went to the grocery store TWICE since I kept forgetting something) and a clean kitchen.


I scalded the milk.  (which you are actually supposed to do!)


I mixed the sugar, flour, cardamom & salt.


I stirred in the milk/butter mixture and alternated with scoops of flour.


I switched to my bread hook when the directions told me to.


I mixed in the citron and the raisins.


Things were starting to look a little worse for wear in my kitchen.


I kneaded.  And kneaded.  And kneaded.  My first batch was not the best.  I didn't do a good job of mixing at the beginning and kneading the dough was like punching a rock with barnacles on the top.


I let the dough rise for three hours while watching it like crazy and repeatedly turning the heat on/off to keep the oven warm.  I punched down the dough and let it rise AGAIN for another two hours.  At last it was time to make into loaves and rise for the last time before baking.   During this entire time, I was also making batch number two (much better this time.  I was more careful about the mixing and the kneading went more smoothly.  I need to remember this next year.)



This is what my kitchen looked like when all eight loaves were cooking.  Not quite as pretty. 



And therefore, this is what dinner looked like.  Take-out. 


Voila!  Beautiful - though rather misshapen - loaves of Julekage.  Sadly, I wasn't able to make some for us so we will devour my mother's instead.



Before I gave the Julekage out, I wrapped them in cellophane bags and tied them with a green grosgrain ribbon.  I was happy with the results - they looked great.  There wasn't enough for me to taste them this year, so hopefully they tasted just as good.  I, however, am exhausted.  Two batches in one day was a little overly ambitious.  Next year, I am thinking about giving out gift certificates!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Barnacles! LOL. I am going to try to make this! I enjoyed reading this and seeing your photos.

Martha said...

Thanks for stopping by, Anonymous! I hope you do make the Julekage and that you enjoy it... it is absolutely delicious. Let me know how yours turns out - hopefully it will be easier to knead than mine was!

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