Gluten Free Julekake is a beautiful Norwegian Christmas bread studded with raisins and candied fruits with a subtle hint ofcardamom. This bread is light, fluffy, and SO easy to make!
Earlier this month We asked our Facebook readers what recipes they wanted to see this holiday season. One reader mentioned an old family favorite that her grandmother used to make, a Scandinavian Christmas bread called julekage or julekake (depending on the region). This recipe had been a part of their holiday celebrations for years but she hadn’t had much success making it gluten free.
In case you’re like us and have no idea how to pronounce julekake, here’s a link to the audio 🙂
We had never heard of julekake, let alone gluten free julekake, but we really wanted to help restore this family Christmas tradition so our reader sent over a copy of the recipe and we went to work making it gluten free.
We made a few tweaks that we normally make to gluten free yeast breads, including reducing the amount of flour to make a wetter dough. Gluten free flours soak up more moisture, especially while baking, which can yield a final product that is dense and gritty. And no one likes that!
Tips for converting a yeast bread recipe:
If you’re making a traditional yeast bread recipe gluten free, start by reducing the flour by 3/4 cup and add a little more if needed to make a very sticky dough. Shape the dough by dusting only the outside with a little gluten free flour or starch, or by using wet or oiled hands.
Allow the gluten free dough to rise only once (after you have shaped it) then bake. If you allow the dough to rise, punch it down, then shape it, it will lose some its rise and won’t be as fluffy as you would like. This is actually one thing we love about gluten free baking, because it really cuts down on the prep time!
What if I don’t like candied fruit?
No worries, some people love it, some people don’t! There are some substitutions listed in the recipe notes below, so you can use one of those or invent your own!
A quick note on the candied fruit: the package I found at my local grocery store was not labelled gluten free, but their website does say that it is gluten free. I linked to it on Amazon below.
Gluten free julekake is a great beginner recipe…
…because it is SO simple and easy to make. You probably have everything you need, minus the candied fruit. As stated above, feel free to substitute it for something that is more appealing or something you already have on hand.
While this is traditionally a Christmas recipe, you can make it any time! Our favorite way to enjoy it is toasted with a bit of butter and we can’t wait to try some variations, like Cranberry Orange or White Chocolate Pecan.
The cardamom in this recipe is perfectly subtle, which is the way cardamom should be.
We have tried to make the easy simple and easy to follow, but leave a comment below if you have a question and we are happy to answer. Enjoy! XOXO Celeste and the Life After Wheat team
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Gluten Free Julekake (Scandinavian Christmas Bread)
A beautiful Norwegian Christmas bread studded with raisins and candied fruits with a subtle hint of cardamom. This gluten free julekake is light, fluffy, and SO easy to make!
- 2 1/2 cups high quality gluten free flour - see notes
- 2 1/2 tsp gluten free instant yeast
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1/3 cup powdered milk
- 2 large eggs, room temp
- 1/4 cup butter, room temp and cut into cubes
- 1 cup water, slightly warmer than room temp
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup diced gluten free candied fruit - see notes
- 1 T gluten free flour
GLAZE - optional
- 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
- 2 T cream
- Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, toss candied fruit, raisins, and 1 T flour. Set aside.
- In bowl of stand mixer, measure gluten free flour by stirring the flour, scooping into measuring cup, and leveling off.
- Add yeast, sugar, salt (on opposite side of bowl as yeast), cardamom, and powdered milk. No need to mix yet.
- Add eggs, butter, and water and mix on medium-low for 1-2 minutes until the dough is smooth. It should be quite sticky.
- Add the fruit and mix on low until evenly distributed.
- You can spread the dough into your prepared pan and use wet hands to round it, OR if you want a more rustic look like you see in the photos, you can dust your countertop with a tablespoon or two of gluten free flour, lightly coat the dough with it, and shape into a round. Do not work the flour into the dough, just use it on the outside so you can shape it.
- Allow the dough to rise in a warm location until almost double in size. I heat the oven to 120 degrees F, turn it off, and put the pan in. Check after 20-30 minutes to see if it's ready to bake.
- Once dough has almost doubled inside, preheat oven to 350 (remove bread from oven first if it was rising there).
- Bake for 40-50 minutes, until top is browned and sounds hollow when you knock on it.
- Allow loaf to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then finish cooling completely on a wire rack.
- Slice the bread and serve. Traditionally, Julekake is traditionally served with marmalade or geitost, which is a brown, slightly sweet goat cheese.
- You can also prepare a simple glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar and cream, and pouring over the top of your cooled loaf. Sprinkle with additional candied fruit for garnish if you wish.
- This bread is best served the day you bake it, but you can keep it in a plastic bag for several days after and serve it toasted with gietost or butter. We really enjoy it toasted 🙂
GLUTEN FREE FLOUR
- We used Better Batter all-purpose gluten free flour for this recipe. It performs well with just about any recipe and is especially good for yeast breads. GF Jules should also work.
- We do not recommend using Bob's Red Mill or Pillsbury for this recipe.
- Not everyone likes candied fruit, we get it. Feel free to substitute extra raisins for the candied fruit, or do the following in place of both raisins and candied fruit:
- Dried cranberries and chopped pecans (try drizzling melted white chocolate over the loaf after it has cooled!)
- Chocolate Chips
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 170Total Fat: 6gCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 4g
Saturday 16th of April 2022
Thank you for this recipe, I blend my own gf flour mixture, nothing exotic.lol. But, I would like to know how much xanthum gum to add to this recipe I looked over some of my other vreads and did add 1 tsp.
Monday 18th of April 2022
Rule of thumb for yeast breads/rolls is 1 teaspoon xanthan gum per cup of flour.
Tuesday 8th of February 2022
I have been making this for several years-love it so much. While I am a huge fan of GFjules and Better batter, and your home made blend. I recently used Bob's Red Mill 1:1 and it turned out extremely well. I can only imagine how it will be if I use the other flours! I use only citron and not any of the other candied fruits, and that produces a mild, citron taste- so if you have people who are grossed out by the candied fruit, I suggest using just the citron. Thanks for this great recipe. It keeps my grandmother's tradition going for our family.
Sunday 13th of March 2022
Thanks so much for sharing, I'm glad you're enjoying the recipe!
Tuesday 23rd of November 2021
sounds really great! We also made yulekake with our inlaws every holiday for years. what is the purpose of the milk powder? ant suggestions to keep dairy free? thanks
Thursday 2nd of December 2021
It's such a fun bread to make! The milk powder adds flavor and helps with browning as gluten free sometimes lacks those two things. You can substitute coconut instant milk powder or omit it if needed.
Saturday 20th of November 2021
Thank you so much for this! Since going gluten free 10 years ago I have missed Julekaga and lefse so much. Can’t wait to make this for the holiday season!
Thursday 2nd of December 2021
I'm SO glad you'll be able to enjoy a holiday favorite again!
Patricia J Haught
Friday 29th of October 2021
Can this bread be baked in a Dutch oven( no pun intended!)
Saturday 6th of November 2021
Haha! Sorry, I haven't tried it :)