Norwegian Christmas Bread
Updated: Dec 20, 2018
Buttery, sweet bread spiced with cardamom and saffron.
Lovely option for Christmas morning or really good addition to breakfast or tea o’clock.
Yield: 2 medium size breads
Time: 1 hour prep + 35 minutes baking
Tin: baking tray or dutch oven
- 6 cups* all purpose flour (divided into 4+2) + 1/4 cup for shaping
- 2 cups full-fat milk
- 150g unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 and 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
- 2 teaspoons cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron
- 50g active bulk dry yeast or 2 packets active dry yeast
- raisins, chopped prunes or cranberries (optional)
*cup=250ml tea cup
- 1 large egg mixed with two tablespoons of full-fat milk
1. If you are using dry fruit - pour some hot water on the fruit and let it rest to soften the skins.
2. Melt the butter on low heat. Add milk and 1 teaspoon of sugar and warm up to 35C. Add dry yeast to the mixture or if you work with active dry yeast mix it with 25ml warm milk until smooth consistency is achieved and then add to the mixture. Cover with dry kitchen towel and set aside for 10 minutes.
3. Sift 4 cups of flour, salt, sugar, cardamom, saffron into a large bowl. Add lukewarm yeast mixture (from Step 2). Start mixing the dough. It will be loose at this stage but you want the mixture to blend in nicely before adding more flour. Once mixed in start adding more flour - 1/2 cup at a time. You have 2 cups of flour left-over to add to the dough. Knead for about 8-10 minutes by hand (or 5-8 minutes if using stand mixer with dough hook). After that time the dough should be shiny and should pull away from your hand (it will be still slightly sticky but should pull away easily from the hand - don’t add more than 5 cups of flour in total). Cover the bowl with clean and dry kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes or until the dough doubles in size.
4. Preheat oven to 180C. Line baking tray with parchment paper or grease your dutch oven lightly.
5. Once the dough doubles in size transfer onto lightly floured work surface and knead again for 2 minutes. You want to stretch the dough and then fold in three (same as when folding letter) and knead. Repeat that move twice. As a last step add your dry fruit and knead gently for 1-2 minutes to incorporate all the fruit into the dough. Form loaf shape and transfer to the baking tray/dutch oven. Cover with kitchen towel and let it rest for 30 minutes before baking. Apply egg wash just before baking.
6. Bake at 180C for 30-35 minutes. If you opt to go with dutch oven - bake for 35 minutes with the cover on, then re-apply egg wash and bake uncovered for another 15 minutes until golden brown in colour.
1. Before baking this bread you may find it useful to read the post about Working with Yeast: