Thursday, December 29, 2016

Norwegian Yule Kage

Grandma was born in Norway. Her family immigrated to the States when she was a little girl. There's very little of my Norwegian heritage left except for a few Christmas foods. One of them is Yule Kage. It translates as Christmas cake, but it's actually a bread.

Mom made it every Christmas, but I've never made it before. I've had some success lately in making bread, so I thought I would try Yule Kage for Christmas this year.

Mom's recipe file had two cards. One was in Grandma's handwriting and the other in Mom's. Using them together I felt confident enough to give it a try.

Norwegian Yule Kage

Using an old family recipe card.

1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups milk
1 yeast cake
(I used 1 1/2 pkgs active dry yeast)
3 tablespoons lukewarm water
3 eggs
6 1/2 cups flour
Scald milk then add butter and sugar.
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup citron
1 teaspoon ground cardamon


Scald the milk. I had to look this up. Bring the milk to almost boiling then allow it to cool slightly. Add the butter and sugar, and let the mixture continue to
Activating the yeast in a small bowl.
cool until lukewarm.

Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water (100-110 degrees). If the water is too cold, the yeast won't activate. If it is too hot, the yeast will be killed. Stir occasionally. The yeast gets bubbly, releasing carbon dioxide gas, the stuff you need to make bread rise.

Mix in cooled liquid, yeast and eggs.
When the milk mixture is cooled, add it to 2 cups of the flour and salt. Beat thoroughly. I used a wire whisk but this could be done with an electric mixer.

Then add the dissolved yeast followed by three well beaten eggs. Beat the whole mixture until everything is fully incorporated and smooth.

Adding the raisins, citron and cardamon.
Add the raisins, citron and cardamon, and blend together while the dough is still in a liquid form.

Add the remaining flour a little at a time. At this point I switched from the whisk to a large wooden spoon. At the end, it was easier to mix the last of the dry flour in with my hands.

Knead on a floured bread board.
Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Knead for 8-10 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Work in any citron and raisins that escaped.

Place dough in a large greased bowl. I used soft margarine. Roll the dough over in the bowl to get some of the margarine on top of the dough to keep it from drying out. Cover the bowl. I used plastic wrap covered with a tea towel. Grandma's recipe card called
Let the dough rise in a warm place.
for a damp cloth.

Let the dough rise in a warm place for about two hours, or until double in size. Mine took one and a half hours in front of the fireplace.

Punch the dough down and divide as desired. I cut mine in half for two large loaves. Form the dough into balls.

Divide dough into loaves to rise again.
I used 9-inch glass pie pans to make round loaves.  Grease the pans and roll the dough to moisten the top. Loosely cover. I used plastic wrap again. 

Place the dough in a warm place and let it double in size again (about 45 minutes).

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Test by tapping the top with your finger. It should have a hollow sound when it's done.
Ready for the oven.

Remove the bread from its pan and cool completely on a rack. If you like a crispy crust, store it in a paper bag. If you want a soft crust, store it in an airtight plastic bag. 

For me, Yule Kage is not complete without gjetost cheese on top. The brand I find in the States is Ski Queen. It's a semi-hard cheese made from whey, milk, goat milk and cream.  It has caramel colour, has a unique flavour, and melts in your mouth. It always reminds me of going to Grandma's house for Christmas.

Norwegian Yule Kage cooling on racks.
I remember Mom's bread as  dense and firm. Mine was more tender, almost like white bread. Also, the cardamon flavour was more subtle. Mom ground her own, so I'm guessing it had a more pronounced flavour.

Next year when I make Yule Kage, I'll try all-purpose flour like Mom used and add extra ground cardamon. Other than that, I'm very pleased with Christmas bread.

I couldn't wait. I cut a slice, toasted it with butter, and topped it with gjetost. Closing my eyes I could feel my family enjoying Christmas and New Years morning with me once again.

Do you have any traditional holiday foods that make you feel connected to your heritage? -- Margy


  1. How lovely to have recipes written out by your Grandma and your Mom. I have an old cookery book of my Mom's which is as old as me.

    1. Both my Mom and Dad were good cooks, and my grandmother did lots of canning and preserving. She was a farmer's wife and they had both a kitchen garden and grew produce to sell to markets. The farm was in what is now the suburbs of Los Angeles, not a hint remains of it's rural past. - Margy

  2. Yummy, that sure looks good. I LOVE any kind of bread.

    1. I'm a newby to baking bread, but have found a few recipes that come out time after time. - Margy

  3. What lovely memories. I make Russian Teacakes every christmas - they are not from my ethnic heritage, but growing up in Sitka, Alaska, we were always invited to the Russian Bishop's house for christmas tea. They served hot tea (and I do mean HOT) from a real Samovar, and trays of Russian teacakes. I feel like a little girl, sitting on a big chair with my feet swinging whenever I eat Russian Teacakes and drink tea. Your christmas bread is almost the exact same recipe of the German Stollen that I make at Christmas - I add nuts and raisins - I have made it since I first found the recipe in a cookbook the year we got married (1964) so it is a tradition my children will remember. Happy New Year my friend -looking forward to hearing more of your adventures this coming year.

    1. It's so nice to have Christmas traditions. Often there are foods that cross heritage lines such as the Yule Kage and Stollen. - Margy

  4. Really nice post with such good instructions for your family recipe. We will sure bake it here - it sounds yummy.

    My mom's parents both came from Switzerland. They met in Tillamook and started a dairy farm there. Grandma always made special treats for Christmas, one being a pear bread made from dried fruit and wrapped in a baked crust sort of like Beef Wellington. Mom and one sister of hers both make it. But our new tradition the past few years is my husband and my mom making fruitcake together. Yes, the dreaded fruitcake! But this one is delicious, really!!! Mom has made it for years but Paul wanted to learn how to make it.

    And yes, Stollen is also something grandma made and one aunt makes that, too.

    1. Mom also made fruitcake, but Dad's specialty was Plum Pudding with Hard Sauce. It was steamed for a long time in a cloth wrapping lined with flour. It made a firm crust on the outside when it was cut. The sauce was flavoured with brandy and nutmet. I may try that next year. - Margy

  5. Thanks for posting this recipe. My Great-Grandfather was from Norway. My Grandpa, a chef, used to make this every Christmas. I have a few of his recipes, but don't have his Yule kage recipe. Thank you for sharing this special recipe. <3


Thanks for stopping by. Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome. - Margy