Friday, December 23, 2016

A Holiday Kitchen Keeper - Norwegian Christmas Bread


From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I made 12 loaves of this bread today using a "remembered" recipe from my childhood. The bread is plainer than most of the Norwegian Christmas Breads I've seen on other blogs, but it is a favorite for a reason. I first had it in the kitchen of a neighbor when I was about four years old. Long time readers of my blog know that I grew up in a duplex complex surrounded by wonderful cooks. This bread was made by Mrs. P, and while her background was Swedish, she claimed all of Scandinavia as her own. This bread was a favorite of hers, and, truth be told, it was known to appear on her table at times other than Christmas. While her bread contained the requisite candied peels and cardamom, she never used the glacéd cherries usually found in Scandinavian Christmas loaves. She had heated discussions with Hannie, a German neighbor and her arch baking rival, who insisted they should be used in Christmas breads. They'd go back and forth as to the merits of glacéd cherries, but Mrs P insisted you'd never find them in Finnish or Norwegian farm kitchens.She may have had a point. She candied her own lemon and lime peel, but cherries in the quantity needed for holiday baking were hard to come by. I never dared ask how lemons and limes made it to remote areas of Scandinavia and that was probably just as well. When it comes to vintage recipes some things must be accepted on faith. While memory may have clouded my judgment, I like the bread well enough to share it with my friends. That includes you. Here's how the bread is made.



Norwegian Christmas Bread... from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

Ingredients:
3-1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup softened butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 large eggs, beaten
10 cups all-purpose flour plus 1 cup for kneading
1 tablespoon salt
5 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup plumped dark raisins
1/2 cup plumped light raisins
1/2 cup candied orange peel
3 tablespoons candied lemon peel

Directions:
1) Place the milk in a large microwave container. Microwave on HIGH temperature for 2 minutes, or until milk bubbles at edges and container is warm. Add butter, sugar and cardamom to milk. Set aside.
2) Place 10 cups flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
3) Beat eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer, using paddle attachment. Slowly add milk mixture and beat until mixed.
4) Switch to dough hook attachment. At low speed, add flour and fruit in alternating spoonfuls. Keep mixing until a smooth, elastic mass is formed.
5) Spread 1/2 cup flour on work surface. Turn dough onto flour. Sprinkle top of dough with 1/4 cup. Knead until just smooth. The dough will be slightly tacky. Place in a large greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double in bulk.
6) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray four bread pans with nonstick spray. Punch dough down. Let rest 10 minutes. Cut into four pieces, shape into loaves and place in bread pans. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double.
7) Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush tops with butter. Let sit for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on a rack. Yield: 4 loaves.



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