The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.


inlovewbread's picture


Anybody have a recipe for Yulekaka (Swedish Christmas Bread) that they would like to share? I have one from my grandmother that is very vague. I want to recreate this holiday bread this year but would not like to waste the candied orange/lemon peel, cherries, etc that I make myself. (Too much work to waste the ingredients on trying to get the recipe right). But, if I could find a recipe that has been tried, I can compare that with what I have to recreate the Yulekaka. 

Thanks in advance for any input.

davidg618's picture

May or may not be what you're looking for, but give it a look.,1813,141176-233204,00.html

David G

inlovewbread's picture

Thanks david for the link- looks good... and poppyfields for taking the time to share this recipe! Can't wait for holiday baking :-)

rick.c's picture

Only I grew up calling it hoska.  I was refferred to czech recipes, even though I knew it came from my grandmother who was danish.  None of those recipes had cardamom though.

Anyway, as it turns out, my danish grandmother adapted her family's yule kaga recipe with her husbands czech family's hoska recipe.  Though we called it hoska, we didn't have the typical braided dhape as it dried out too quickly.  Here is the recipe.

1 pkg Yeast
1 C Milk, Scalded
1/4 C Margarine
1/4 C Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Ground Cardamom seed
1 Egg, Beaten
~3 3/4 C Flour
1/4 Box Raisins  *1/2 Cup I think
1/8 Tub Mixed Candied Fruit  *1/4 Cup I think

  1. Scald Milk,add margarine, sugar, salt and cardamom,
  2. Cool to room temp, add beaten egg and yeast dissolved in 2 Tbsp Water
  3. Add flour, stir until mixed, adding fruit bits & raisins towards end of mixing.
  4. Dump onto floured counter, cover with damp cloth and rest for 10 Min,
  5. Knead for ~ 10 mins, until shiny and not sticky,
  6. Place in oiled bowl covered with damp cloth in a warm place until doubled,
  7. Punch down to remove air, leave to rise until douybled again.
  8. Shape (we had this in small bread pans always) let rise, brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar,
  9. Bake at 350 until golden and sound hollow when thumped on bottom

This dough also makes good cinn rolls if raisins, fruit bits, and cardamom are removed, fill with your favorite mix of butter, cinn, sugar...

Or makes good rolls to go with dinner (again making above omissions), we shaped them into crescent shapes.  ENJOY!


vdarmon's picture

I have very fond memories of my Norwegian Grandmother making Julekage every Christmas when I was young. As far as I know, I am the only one of my three siblings that still carries on the tradition.  The recipe that I use comes from Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Bread Cook Book.  The copyright on mine is from 1974.


4 1/2 to 5 cups AP flour

2 packages active dry yeast

3/4 tsp ground cardamom

1 1/4 cups milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter

1 tsp salt

1 egg

1 cup chopped mixed candied fruits

1 cup light raisins

1 slightly beaten egg yolk mixed with 2 Tbsp water to brush over loaves before baking

Mix ingredients.  Knead.  Let rise until double.  Shape into two loaves; place in two greased bread pans.  Cover and let rise until double.  Brush with egg yolk mixture.  Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes.


I have never liked candied fruit, so I always make mine with just raisins.  I love the smell of the cardamom and the way the house smells while the bread is baking!


Share your recipe with us after you bake your bread!


Happy baking!  Ginnie



inlovewbread's picture

Thank you both as well for taking time to write out these recipes. They are very close to what I have and have been able to piece together. I will post pictures w/ the formula when I make it. 

Thanks again!

hukari's picture

...but here's my Norwegian grandmother's recipe:


2 pkg yeast            2t salt
1/2c sugar              1t ground cardamom
2c milk                   7-8c flour
2 eggs                   1c raisins
1/2c melted butter   1c candied fruit

Proof yeast in a bit of milk with a little sugar. Mix milk, eggs, butter, salt and cardamom
and add to yeast mixture. Beat in 2-3c flour. Let rest 30 minutes. Beat in rest of flour and
fruit. Knead 10 minutes. Let rise until doubled. Form 3 loaves and brush with a mixture of
egg and milk. Let rise until doubled. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes.


And PLEASE take the time to grind your own cardamom! It makes a great difference. Good baking!


inlovewbread's picture

Thanks hukari. I did just get some cardamom pods, and will be grinding my own for this recipe, thanks for the reminder! They smell heavenly so I can't wait to use them freshly ground.

Could you tell me though, did your grandmother use baking pans or just form them? If they were free-form, were they round or oblong or any particular shape? I ask because my grandmother used little baking pans (8 x 4?) but was wondering what other traditional shapes the loaves were formed into.

Thanks again. I'm doing a run-through of the recipe tomorrow.

hukari's picture

I was never around when my grandmother made them, but my mom made them round, free form. You see, my grandmother lived near my parents were both born, in - ta-daaa!! - South Dakota!

My relatives all settled around Frederick, and my grandma actually lived in Oakes, ND at the end. Lots of Scandhoovians, as my dad used to call them, around that area. Then a lot of them upped and moved to Oregon, where I was born.


inlovewbread's picture

I re-read your reply to my question above and must have read it too fast the first time...

You say your "grandmother's box"- do you mean her recipe box or a box of her things? Just wondering, as I'm very interested in cultural breads and family traditions in bread baking. I love finding out the background on recipes handed down.

Another interesting side note, my grandmother also grew up on a farm in South Dakota.

inlovewbread's picture

Thank you for your reply regarding the Yulekaka (or, as I've seen it spelled: ulekake, Julekaka, Julekage)

The look of the loaf is somewhat un-traditional and maybe that's why you don't recognize it? I made it into a 9 x 5" loaf for convenience purposes because we like to toast it throughout the week. Usually though I've seen them as smallish free-form loaves and small loaf pan sizes more like 8 x 4". I've also seen them with a type of "frosting" on top. We prefer a sugar/milk glaze. I also left out some of the candied fruits because I didn't have them at the time. I would have added currants and candied citron as well.

Anyway, thanks for the info. I always appreciate the bread more when I learn about it's roots, history and such. Very interesting.

If you have the time, I am interested in the translation of any of the above recipes you shared. 

Thanks! and yes, it is early to start the Christmas baking but I have a few recipes that I want to get right before I start passing them out as gifts :-)

hansjoakim's picture

Hmm.. still doesn't really ring a bell, sorry. As for the spelling of "Yulekaka", I bet the correct one is either of the following: Julekake (Norwegian), Julekage (Danish) or Julkaka (Swedish). However, most people associate various "kake" with round sponge cakes and the like. What you posted reminds me a lot more of christmas bread or the vørterbrøds that I mentioned in the above post.

These recipes are given partly by weights and partly in volume. Below, dl = deciliter, so 1 dl = 0.1 liter. Of the three recipes, I think the Swedish vörtbröd looks most enticing... there are more spices and more raisins in it compared to the others. I'm not a vørterbrød expert however, so here are the recipes for the Swedish vörtbröd (often referred to as traditional Swedish christmas bread) and the Norwegian vørterbrød:


Swedish vörtbröd (makes 2 loaves):

50 gr. fresh yeast

3 dl porter

2.5 dl christmas beer

50 gr. butter

0.5 dl vegetable oil (such as canola oil)

1 dl dark syrup

0.5 Tbsp ground bitter orange peel

1.5 Tbsp ginger

1 Tbsp cloves

0.5 Tbsp cardamum

1 Tbsp salt

6.75 dl bread flour

6.75 dl white rye flour

3 dl dark raisins


1. Dissolve the yeast in a bowl together with the porter, beer, oil and syrup.

2. Melt the butter together with salt and spices. Let cool before mixing together with the liquid ingredients from 1.

3. Gradually mix in flour, and work the dough gently until soft and elastic.

4. Ferment in the bowl until doubled.

5. Shape as two loaves and proof for approx. 1 hr.

6. Bake the breads for a total of 50 mins. The first 15 mins. at 175dC and the remaining 35 mins. at 150dC.



Norwegian vørterbrød (makes 2 or 3 loaves):

500 gr. white rye flour

1 tsp anise

1 tsp coriander

0.5 tsp cloves

1 tsp ground pepper

3 dl milk

1 dl dark syrup

50 gr. fresh yeast

3.3 dl beer (vørterøl, roughly equivalent to root beer I think...a rather malty non-alcoholic beer)

500 gr. bread flour

2 dl dark raisins


1. Mix the rye flour with half of the bread flour. Add anise, coriander, coronation and pepper. Dissolve the yeast in milk and syrup. Add beer, and stir the liquid into the flour mix.

2. Mix the dough, gradually adding bread flour until the dough lets go of the bowl. The dough should be soft and elastic. Cover and ferment until doubled, roughly 1 hr.

3. Divide the dough in 2 or 3 pieces, and carefully work in raisins. Shape as rounds or ovals, and proof for approx. 30 mins. Bake @ 200dC for 40 mins. Brush the loaves with water when they're done.


Good luck, and let me know if you try any of these :)

inlovewbread's picture

They all look really good and I will be giving them a try. Especially interesting is the addition of beer or root beer! 

I'll let you know how they come out when I get around to trying them :-)

Thanks again for taking the time to translate for me. It might be a little while before I get to them on my "to bake" list, but I definitely want to try them.

As for the tradition of this bread- I don't know. I'm still trying to trace back how my english/ jewish decent grandmother (now passed on) got a hold of a swedish bread recipe that she would make every year. 

The taste of this loaf was exactly like what my grandmother would make, and it looks like some of the other posters from above were familiar with it too. Anyway, if I have a little time I'd like to trace the origins of this bread.


dhj's picture

there is a fine recipe for Norwegian Christmas Bread (Julekage) in the Great Scandanavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojankankas.. as well as Pulla and many other breads and goodies.  She is a very reliable baker.

inlovewbread's picture

Hi again,

I just got Reinhart's WGB book today and was interested to find he included a formula for "Julekage" as Danish Christmas bread. He includes this right along with Stollen and Pannetone.

Just thought you might also find this of interest as we had been discussing this bread..


hansjoakim's picture

Hmm... that sounds "new". Are there whole grains in those recipes??

inlovewbread's picture

Yep, 100% whole grain flour is used, plus a whole grain starter. I might try the stollen recipe using whole grain. The color of the dough in the picture (page 249) looks like it would bake to be really pretty. If I try that, I'll post about it here too. Still need to try the breads you suggested!