Friday, September 3, 2010

Baking Swedish and Norwegian Breads

Judy & Kitty Making Norwegian Jukelage, waving Norway's flag

This baking adventure started out with my baking Swedish Limpa Bread from AB5The combination of orange zest, cardomom, anise and rye seemed interesting.  Therefore, I postponed my group's HB5 asssignment for this week.  These breads just couldn't wait to be baked!

While freshly grinding the anise seeds and cardomom pods, from the health food store, the house smelled wonderful!  The dough went into the fridge overnight, to make it easier to handle when shaping. 

Just before the loaf went into the oven, a cornstarch glaze was applied.  A sharp knife was used to cut a scallop pattern into the dough.  More cardamom, anise, and sugar was sprinkled on top.  Here's a picture of the bread, just before it went into the oven.

While eating the loaf for dinner, my husband learned he didn't like the flavors of anise and cardomom.  Well, you can always learn something new about your spouse!

That's when I thought about my friend, Kitty.  I love to talk to people about baking, and about all the baking styles of different countries.  When Kitty and I talked about baking, she mentioned her favorite Norwegian bread--julekage (pronounced yooleekaka).   

Kitty has been extremely busy in her job, and hasn't baked in awhile.  Since the AB5 way of baking might help her, I invited Kitty to bake julekage at my house.  She was excited to see how she could bake the AB5 method.  Julekage is actually a variation of challah, which is in the AB5 book.  We just added raisins (Kitty's choice), cardomom, and anise.

Here's a picture of Kitty, mixing up a batch of dough from the AB5 book.  She enjoyed using my Danish dough whisk.

Two hours later, the dough was ready to be shaped.  Look at that beautiful rise!!!  And the smell of even the dough was wonderful.
That's the flag of Norway on the top of this "dough mountain."

Kitty said that her family makes 3-strand loaves which are sliced.  They are eaten as part of breakfast or dessert.  Kitty learned this shape from her mom, who learned it from her dad's mom.   Kitty said that different families might shape their jukelege differently.  They also make rolls, which are easy to pack for a snack.

Here's a picture of the rolls, fresh from the oven.  We had measured out 3 ounces of dough for each roll.  

The rolls, after icing them with Kitty's special icing recipe. 

Kitty's Danish Almond Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
2 TBSP water
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp almond extract

Mix all the ingredients together.  Add water until it becomes thin enough to drizzle.  Makes 1/2 cup
After drizzling the icing on the jukelage as it cooled, we put almond slivers on the top of the icing as the cooled.

The finished, braided loaves. 

Kitty asked her mom how to store the loaves so that the icing wouldn't come off.  Kitty's mom said that people usually eat them up right away--no leftovers!  But she said to store them in a paper bag overnight and then put the paper bags in the freezer bag to freeze them.  That way, the icing shouldn't rub off.

Kitty was thrilled to take home some of the remaining dough to make rolls later in the week.  And we enjoyed some wonderful Norwegian treats!

More Swedish Limpa Bread:

Swedish Limpa Bread
There was still some leftover Swedish Limpa bread dough, so we made another loaf.  It was fun making patterns in this loaf.

For the last pound of limpa bread dough, we decided to make muffins.  Following Kitty's julekage idea, muffins would be packable for a snack.  Here's Kitty, putting a mixture of cardomom, anise, and sugar on top.

The muffins baked up really well.  They only took about 20 minutes to bake.

The spices of cardamom and anise in these breads were fascinating to me.  I have used cardamom in Indian cooking.  How did it get to Sweden?  

Wikipedia gave me an answer.  It just had to do with the ancient spice routes!  The first Dutch expedition left from Amsterdam (April 1595) for South East Asia. Another Dutch convoy sailed in 1598 and returned one year later with 600, 000 pounds of spices and other East Indian products.  How cardamom got to Scandinavia from India

So it was the Dutch who first brought these spices to countries like Sweden, Norway and Holland.

When Kitty came over to bake julekage, she said that her great grandparents owned a shipping company.  They would travel to India and all over the world, bringing spices back to Norway.  Wow, that really brought history to life for me!

Well, we had an absolute blast baking together!  All my husband heard was the two of us laughing and singing ("Let's do the gluten wrap, again!...").  Also, the house smelled wonderful.  While the muffins were baking, Kitty went to feed out koi fish in our pond.  When she returned to the kitchen, she said she was just in love with the wonderful aroma.  It reminded Kitt of Christmas baking from her childhood.  What a wonderful memory!

We hope you have fun baking these breads.  For some helpful Handwise tips, click on this link:  Helpful Handwise tips, near the middle of the page

This bread is one of the breads from the "Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes a Day" book.
The HBinFive Baking Group, started by Michelle of Big Black Dogs, is baking through all of the breads in the "Healthy Breads in 5 Minutes a Day" book.  To see what my HB5 baking buddies have made recently, check out The 19th HBin5 Bread Braid

Thanks for stopping by to visit!  Come back soon, I'll be baking again often.  I hope you will leave a comment below.



  1. loved your post and the braid. I like cardamon but didnt like the anise in bread so much.

  2. What a great day and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post.

    Doing my family genealogy I discovered, on my Dad's side, that we connected into a Swedish family, a rather large Swedish family. I might just make the Limpa Bread but like your husband Cardamon is not a favorite but I will substitute cinnamon!

    Great post Judy! Thanks for the history info too!!

  3. Great post. We were in Stockholm and Oslo this summer, fun to see the breads. I have found that a little cardamom is good, but I do not like too much. All a matter of personal taste.

  4. I'm going to agree with you about the anise (don't tell my hubby!). A little is ok, but not a lot of anise or cardomom. I gave a limpa loaf, and the muffins, to a friend. With my hubby not eating the limpa, I would be eating it all myself.

    The julekage recipe didn't call for a lot of anise or cardomom, which was nice.

    Michelle, that's really great about your lineage discovery! If you tone down the cardomom, you might like it.

  5. Oh, I didn't tell you guys about the burnt loaf we had. We had so much fun singing and laughing, that we forgot about the last limpa loaf still baking!

    I thought we had left the oven on for baking the upcoming julekage loaves. When Kitty checked the oven, she found a very burnt loaf. Kitty (pre-med student) pronounced it"dead." The birds and squirrels did eat it, though.

  6. Great looking breads. Braided breads are so pretty. I'm a fan of both anise and caramom, so this would be right up my alley. Haven't we all burnt a few loaves in our time! ;)