Every family has its own combination of holiday traditions, usually including its fair share of special recipes for holiday sweets. When I was growing up, we often made potato salad, a carrot apple salad with raisins (haroset- a long story) and deviled eggs for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. But it never occurred to me that when I grew up and got married, I’d get the chance to share in an extra wealth of traditions. A few years back when we were visiting DH’s family around Christmas time, DFIL was about to make his famous Norwegian Christmas Bread for the family when all of a sudden he paused, and turned to me. “Is there a way we could make this gluten-free?” he asked. I wasn’t quite sure how to answer the challenge, especially since I didn’t have all my bread flours with me. Luckily the local King Soopers grocery store carried Bob’s Red Mill Wonderful GF Sandwich Bread mix- and it occurred to us to combine FIL’s family recipe with the instructions for the bread and see what happened. Well, what happened was DELICIOUS! The bread mix had always been reliable, but the flavors had never excited me that much. Combined with the candied peel and fruit mix, a generous dose of raisins and freshly ground cardamom, it was like a whole different bread mix. The cinnamon sugar topping was the perfect note, adding a satisfying cinnamon coat to the loaf. The experiment was pronounced a success, and I was thrilled to be able to have a slice of my very own GF Christmas bread while the family enjoyed their regular Christmas bread slices for breakfast the next morning. DH can personally eat his way through several loaves a season, so I think it was a matter of some urgency that I learn the secret of the family Christmas bread. Actually, the first year we lived in Japan DH was depressed to be missing out on Christmas bread on the holidays- so his parents actually mailed him some freshly made Christmas bread! That may be the most expensive bread ever made- but DH was thrilled. The next year I had friends living in Yokohama that invited me to shop at their commisary- I stocked up on fruitcake mix specifically to make this bread! DFIL still remembers his mother making the bread for them around the Christmas season on the Wisconsin farm he grew up. DH has so many memories of Christmas bread around the holiday season that whenever one is baking in the oven he exclaims joyously that “It smells like Christmas!” And now DH and I can enjoy our own Christmas holidays with a slice of gluten free Christmas bread, also known as Julekake. Someday hopefully we’ll even introduce our child, gluten-free or otherwise, to this recipe so the tradition can continue! DFIL says the secret is to use freshly ground cardamom. He usually buys the whole pods at Whole Foods and uses about 1/2 cup of pods grinding the cardamom fresh for each recipe. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? And the cardamom really does seem to be the magical ingredient in this recipe.
I know the holidays are over now… *sniff* but what is your favorite family tradition for the holidays, in the kitchen or otherwise? Any gluten Christmas treats you’ve converted to be gluten-free? Please share in the comments!
Shared with Gluten-free Holiday Carnival
Gluten-Free Julekake Norwegian Christmas Bread
1 pkg. Rob’s Red Mill GF Bread Mix
1 2/3 cup warm milk (cow, rice, or soy ok)
1 whole egg + enough egg white to make 3/4 cup altogether
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1 tsp cider vinegar (or white wine)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp or more fresh cardamom seed
2 cups raisins
1 cup fruitcake mix
Dissolve one pkg of yeast in 1/3 cup warm milk.
Heat the remaining 1 1/3 cup of milk (or soy milk) in the microwave in a medium bowl. Add 1/3 cup butter or margarine, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and one tsp of salt to the hot milk. Add to your mixing bowl.
Crush about 2 tsp of fresh cardamom seed in a mortar and pestle.
When the milk mixture has cooled, gradually add flour and mix until
Add yeast milk-mixture, eggs, and vinegar and mix with beaters for 2 1/2 minutes.
Add 2 cups raisins, 1 cup fruitcake mix and cardamom and mix for at
Place dough in foil lined, buttered bread pan.
Brush top of dough with some warm milk. Sprinkle a mixture of 2
Bake at 375 oven for 35-45 minutes, covered with foil until crust is nicely browned. You can take off the foil for the last 10 minutes if you like.
Let cool and slice off a piece to enjoy some Norwegian heaven!
*if fruitcake mix is out of season, you can use 3 cups of raisins with good results.