Norwegian Christmas Bread

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This is a juicy and well seasoned bread, which is particularly suitable for Christmas breakfasts. If you got the time, it may be be a good idea to bake several loaves. They make a nice gift for friends who do not bake themselves.

Preparation: about 35 min.
Rise time: about 1 1/2 hour
Baking time: about 40 min.
Oven temperature: 200° C, 175° C / 390° F, 345° F

What you need for 2 loaves:
1/2 l [1 pt]  kefir
50 g [1,8 oz] yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 dl [0,2 pt] golden syrup
*
1/2 tablespoon fennel
1/2 tablespoon anise
1/2 tablespoon caraway
1 teaspoon grated bitter orange peel
about 5 dl [1 pt] sifted rye flour (275 g / 10 oz)
about 6 dl [1,2 pt] flour (360 g / 12,5 oz)
Glaze:
3 tablespoons water
1/2 tablespoon golden syrup*

* Don’t use corn syrup for this recipe, we never use it here in Norway. Use Lyle’s Golden Sirup or similar products.

This is what you do:

[1] Warm the kefir gently to lukewarm – 37° C / 99° F.

[2] Crumble the yeast into a mixing bowl. Stir it with a little of the kefir. Add the remaining kefir and stir well.

[3] Add salt, syrup and spices.

[4] Work in the flour, a little at a time, to a shiny, smooth and elastic dough. It shall let go off the bowl and be quite firm. You may need to add a little extra flour.

[5] Sprinkle the dough with a little flour. Cover with a baking cloth and let it rise in warm place about 1 hour.

[6] Place the dough on floured surface. Knead it smooth and supple with possibly a little extra flour.

[7] Divide the dough into two pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth round loaves. Place the round loaves on greased baking sheets. Cover with baking cloth.

[8] Let them raise about 1/2 hour. Brush with the glaze.

[9] Bake the loaves in the oven at 200° C / 390° F for the first 30 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 175° C¨/ 345° F and let them bake another 10 to 15 minutes or until they’ve got nice color and seem done.

[10] Cool the loaves on a rack under a baking cloth.