Swedish Christmas Bread with Wort aka Vörtbröd

Now there are just two days left to Christmas Eve and all the kids are so excited – soon the Santa Claus will knock on the door to bring presents to everyone who has been nice during the year. I’m also excited but not for the presents and the Santa Claus but rather to see my cousins which I haven’t been seeing for quite a while and to dig into all the great food. I outgrew Santa a long time ago, when I was about 5 years or so, but my cousins are still thrilled to see him. I guess Stefan will be the one dressing up this year again; so I get to kiss the Santa Claus just like in the song J

Last Sunday we made this incredible bread with lots of spices, raisins and Christmassy flavors. As you might have noticed we love to do things from scratch and this time is no exception. The store bought breads are just not our cup of tea; they might look nice but are feather light with far too much air inside and dull flavors. Besides, I just love that crisp crust which doesn’t exists on the plastic wrapped alternatives in the supermarket.

The best thing with this bread is the boom of flavors; the clove, the bitter orange and the ginger which in contrast to the salt and the sweetness from muscovado sugar, julmust and raisins is spot on. Not to mention the wort which gives the bread that slightly burnt and earthy flavor. There is a problem thought; wort, which is a product from early in the beer making process, is hard to come by. This recipe calls for concentrated wort, in other words wort which has been reduced to a syrup like consistency. I buy my wort at Cajsa Warg, but if you can’t get hold of it replace it with 1 liter of port which you reduce down to 100 g which is the required amount for this recipe. Julmust could also be substituted by a spoonful of sugar and port, but this time it should be in its pure unconcentrated form.

I’ve tried a few different Swedish Christmas bread recipes during the years, but this is the ultimate one. It’s created by Martin Johansson (Pain de Martin) and I only made some changes in the preparation method and added raisins to his original version. As I wrote earlier the sweet raisins make a nice contrast to all the spices, the slight bitterness and the salt. One important thing though is to let the raisins soak in water for a while, otherwise they will steal the moist from the bread and you will end up with dry loafs.

Hope you give this flavorful bread a try. I know I will make a new batch already tomorrow to bring with me to the big Christmas celebration.

Merry Christmas to all of you!


Swedish Christmas Bread with Wort aka Vörtbröd


Pre dough
10 g fresh yeast
150 g julmust (or porter + 20 grams of sugar)
100 g whole wheat flour 1

100 g julmust (or porter)
250 g water
25 g yeast
25 g liquid honey
100 g muscovado sugar
100 g liquid wort (or 1 liter porter reduced to 100 g)
650 g strong- or baking wheat flour
100 g rye flour
20 g salt
3 g dried bitter orange peels
1 g clove
2 g grond ginger

50 g raisins

Oven: 250 °C & 200 °C


Pre dough Dissolve the yeast in the room tempered julmust and add the flour. Stir until combined and set aside in room temperature for about 6 hours.

Soak the raisins in cold water for a few hours.

Dough Dissolve the yeast in cold water and room tempered julmust. Add the pre dough, honey, muscovado sugar, wort and both kinds of flour and knead the dough, in a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, for about 4 minutes. If you are making this bread by hand you should double the kneading time. Let the dough rest for about 30 minutes. Pour boiling water over the bitter orange and let it soak for about 15 minutes. Cut of as much of the white bitter parts from the orange as possible. Measure out 3 gram of the orange peel and finely chop or grind it. Add bitter orange, clove and ginger to the dough and work in the mixer for about 4 minutes. Add the salt and knead for another 4 minutes. Cover the dough and let it proof in room temperature for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and cut it in half. Form two oblong loafs and place them on two separate sheets of baking paper. Let the loafs rest for about 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 250 °C; placing a pizza stone inside if you happen to have such a thing at hand. Also place a tray at the bottom of the oven. When the bread has doubled in size transfer it to the stone or place it on a tray. When putting the bread into the oven throw like half a deciliter of cold water or two ice cubes on the bottom tray. Quickly close the oven and lower the temperature to 200 °C. This procedure will create steam which gives the bread a nice and crispy crust. Bake the bread for 30-40 minutes or until it reaches an inner temperature of 98 °C. Let the bread cool on a wire rack.

Serve with salted butter, ham and mustard, or with cheese.

1 Fullkornsvetemjöl eller grahamsmjöl

2 Vetemjöl special, mjöl med hög proteinhalt


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