Holiday Baking

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show

The holidays are a great time for baking. Larry Meiller learns how to make Scandinavian treats like lefse and julekake, plus other end of year baked goodies.

Featured in this Show

  • Yulekake: A Great Holiday Treat For Pro, Novice Bakers Alike

    The end of the year brings holidays to celebrate and colder weather, and there’s nothing quite like the smell of bread or pastries baking in the oven to make people feel warmer inside and out.

    Paul Novak is not only an expert baker, he’s also a talented instructor. He is also the author of “A Baker’s Dozen of Daily Breads & More.” And each year, he brings a yulekake to the studio to share with Wisconsin Public Radio host Larry Meiller.

    Pronounced “YOO-leh-KAH-keh,” the treat is an aromatic, sweet yeast bread with dried fruit inside. Novak said that much of the scent comes from the cardamom, which is a common baking spice in Scandinavian cuisine. He noted that black cardamom is used frequently in Indian cuisine while white and green cardamom are more common in Northern European sweet pastries and breads.

    Novak said that white cardamom is the dyed version of the green, so he decided to give the more natural version a try this time. But, he found that the green shells were harder to break open, and that the green seeds were harder to grind.

    “So, I normally would not go to the processed one,” he said, “but I found it to be easier. I had to put (the green) in my coffee grinder to grind up the little cardamom seeds!”

    Yulekake literally means, “Yule,” or “Christmas cake,” but Novak described it as “a rich, white bread, really not that different from Challah bread, but it’s got the cardamom (in it). … It’s a celebration of sugar, and butter, and eggs, and milk.”

    Novak said that a Yulekake is a good project for even a beginning bread baker, and the scent of the cardamom will add a festive aroma to the house.

    Novak shared his Yulekake recipe, which he has lightened up a bit over the years, using a little less butter and sugar than originally called for.

    Paul Novak’s Yulekake

    • 2 T yeast in ½ cup warm water
    • 2 cups milk
    • ¾ cups sugar
    • ¾ cups (1.5 sticks) softened butter
    • 2 t salt
    • 1 t cardamom
    • 2 eggs
    • 8-10 cups white flour
    • 1 cup plumped raisins kneaded in at the end

    Knead for 10 minutes, kneading in the raisins in at the end. The dough rises twice in the bowl, about an hour each time, before being shaped into two loaves for the final rise in bread pans. Glaze with one egg in 2 T milk and bake at 350˚ for 40-50 minutes. Recipe makes two loaves.

    Then add melted butter to the tops, and, if desired, powdered sugar.

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Paul Novak Guest

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