On the fourth Sunday of Advent (the Sunday before Christmas day) all four candles of the Advent calendar are lit. This is the perfect time to celebrate the last Sunday with an Adventkrans. Typically an Adventkrans is a candle wreath but in Norway it is also a sweet bread. The bread is twisted into a wreath shape and after baking, four candles, usually white or purple, are inserted into the bread. There are many local variations – some have an almond filling, others have raisins, some have a white glaze and some with a cinnamon-sugar crust on top. This sweet bread serves as both a treat and a table decoration.
What you need:
3dl of milk
1 pk yeast
500g plain flour
1tb ground cardamum
raisins, sugar and cinnamon for filling – see tips below for variations
4 long dripless candles – white or purple
and over 60 minutes spare to make it!
Melt the butter and milk. Stir the yeast into the lukewarm milk mixture. Set aside. To the flour, mix in the sugar and cardamum. Add the milk mixture to the flour and knead in the bowl. The milk mix might be a little thick but that is fine. Add in more flour until the dough does not stick to the bowl. Cover bowl with plastic and raise the dough in a warm place until it is twice as large (at least 40 minutes). (Though it didn’t seem like mine rose at all as the dough is very heavy.)
Knead the dough lightly in flour on the bench and roll it into a long sausage shape. Save a fifth of the dough for decoration. Make sure the sausage is long enough to shape into a circle/wreath. Gently press the sausage flat and sprinkle raisins along. (We used butter sugar and cinnamon instead – see alternatives below.) Fold the dough over the filling and pinch to seal. Place on a baking sheet making sure the seam is underneath.
With the saved dough for decoration, roll out a little into four fingers – they will become the candleholders. Shape them into circles and set on top of the wreath. Roll out the rest and shape into holly leaves and berries. They don’t need to be precis or delicate as they will bake into the bread. Set on the dough wreath.
Let the wreath rise under a cloth in warm place, for at least 30 minutes. Then beat the egg and brush on top. Bake at 200°C for about 20 minutes in the middle of the oven – a little longer if you like it dark and crunchy.
Allow to cool. Carve out the little holes inside the candle holders for four long candles to sit. Place candles in the holes. Light candles before serving.
Filling: You can use a nugatti or nutella filling. And almond paste or a fruit and nut mix.
Topping: You can use maraschino cherries on top instead of making dough berries. You can make a white glaze with just water and icing sugar to drip on top as if snow. You can also drizzle caramel/butterscotch icing on top with a sprinkling of almonds. For a sweet crust, mix sugar and cinnamon with a little butter and spread over the dough before baking.
Decoration: If the wreath will stand for all of Christmas, being used as an Advent calendar, then of course it is not necessary to have fillings or toppings. Add two table spoons of salt for preservation.
We drizzled a simple glaze icing over the wreath to add a little snow effect. It works well with our sugar-cinnamon filling. Happy last Advent Sunday!