Julekaga (Julekake)

There are several ways to spell Julekaga. Take your pick. Either way, it’s a wonderful addition to the Christmas holiday.

In addition to making lefse for Christmas, my mother made julekake and Christmas bread. The difference between julekake and Christmas bread is that julekake is a richer bread.

This recipe makes two large round loaves.
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter (or margarine)
- 2 packages of yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cardamom (substitute cinnamon or nutmeg if you prefer)
- 7 cups flour
- 1 cup of raisins
- 1/2 cup of citron
- 1/2 cup of red candied cherries
- 1/2 cup of green candied cherries

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter, milk, sugar and salt until the margarine/butter has melted. Pour the milk mixture into a large bowl and let it cool.

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and add it to the milk mixture. Add the cardamom (or other spice) and 3 cups of flour and beat until smooth. Mix in the fruit and 4 cups of flour. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. If the dough becomes too sticky, knead in another 1/4 to 1/2 cup of flour.

Put the dough in a greased bowl and cover and let it rise in a warm place until doubled, or about one hour.

Punch down the dough and divide in half. Knead for a minute or so, and then form each half into rounds. Place the dough on a large greased cookie sheet and let rise for 45 minutes. (The loaves will become very large, so be careful not to put them too close to the edge of the cookie sheet.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. If the loaves start turning too brown, turn the oven down to 325. After you remove the loaves from the oven, brush them with shortening while they are still hot. This will help the crust to stay soft. Remove loaves from the cookie sheet. Allow the julekake to cool before slicing.

If you prefer, after the julekake is cool, drizzle on powdered sugar icing and decorate with cherries, walnuts or pecans.

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