Nana Christine making Christmas Bread
COQUITLAM, BRITISH COLUMBIA--92-year-old Christine Beyerstein still does her own Christmas baking. Here, she turns four finished loaves of Norwegian Christmas bread onto cooling racks.
The Christmas bread recipe has been in the Beyerstein family for almost 100 years. It's a soft white bread enriched with butter and eggs, scented with cardamon, and studded with raisins and candied citron. It's perfect for a holiday breakfast, or toasted for a snack. It also makes elegant French toast or bread pudding.
Norwegian Christmas Bread
Makes 4 loaves
Note: I've adapted this recipe for instant yeast, so the yeast goes in with the dry ingredients. If you're using traditional yeast, you proof the yeast with the scalded milk and sugar mixture.
3 1/2 C milk
1/4 warm water
1/2 C butter
3/4 granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cardamon
2 large eggs (beaten)
10-11 C all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp salt
2 envelopes Bakipan instant yeast
1/2 cup candied citron peel
1/2 dark raisins
1/2 light raisins
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Scald the milk in the microwave in a large Pyrex liquid measure. Microwave on high for a minute, or until the milk starts to smell sweet and the container feels hot to the touch.
3. Add butter and sugar and the ground cardamon to the hot milk. Set aside.
4. Combine the flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Whisk to blend.
5. Beat the eggs in the bowl of the food processor with the paddle attachment. Add the milk mixture. Blend until homogeneous and well-mixed.
6. Switch to the dough hook attachment. With the machine on a low to medium speed, gradually add the flour mixture and dried fruit in alternating spoonfuls. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically. Keep mixing until the dough forms a smooth, elastic mass.
7. Turn out onto a floured board and knead by hand for a few more minutes.
8. Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover it loosely with saran wrap. (If you've kneaded the dough enough, the saran won't stick to the dough.) Put the bowl in a warm place and let rise until doubled in bulk.
9. Spray four loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray, or grease them with butter wrappers.
10. When the dough has doubled, punch it down. Divide into four pieces, shape into loaves, and put the loaves in the pans. Cover and let rise again until puffy.
11. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the pans from the oven. Run a sharp knife around the edges to loosen the bread, if necessary.
12. Cool on a wire rack. While the loaves are still warm, rub the tops with a little butter.