Traditionally, Easter sweet bread dates back to the Homeric Greek period around 1100 BC, when honey leavened bread was popular.
Celebrate Easter Sunday with traditional Finnish “PULLA” that adorns every table during Finland’s religious holidays. Growing up, this was the best treat Easter morning ( and still is )! One bite of this light, fluffy, sweet bread and you’re a kid again, remembering those wonderful times!
PULLA bread is a soft, fluffy cardamom braided bread (or buns) served with a hot cup of coffee. Top this sweet loaf with sliced almonds and/or pearl sugar.
INGREDIENTS (makes 2 loaves)
- 1 1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F – 45 degrees C)
- 1 package (.25 ounce) active dry yeast
- 2 cups milk
- 2/3 cup of white sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon ground, fresh cardamom
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cups or 170 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk (lightly beaten)
- I large egg white, lightly beaten with
- 1 tbsp water (for egg wash)
- TOPPING: almond slices and course sugar ( about 1 to 2 Tablespoons )
1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and a pinch of sugar. Let stand until foamy, in 5 minutes
[ If yeast does not foam start over with new yeast]
2. Stir together flour, sugar, cardamom, and salt in a large bowl, then blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal.
3.Stir in milk, whole egg, and yeast mixture with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead, dusting surface and hands with just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.
4. Pat dough into a 9-inch square. Knead, dusting surface and hands lightly with flour. Dough will be lumpy and slightly sticky; Form dough into a ball.
5. Put dough in a buttered large bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
6. Punch down dough (do not knead), then halve. Cut each half into thirds and roll each piece into a 15-inch rope. ( 6 ropes – for 2 loaves ).Braid together 3 ropes to form a loaf, then transfer to a parchment-lined large baking sheet, tucking ends under. Make another loaf with remaining 3 ropes, arranging loaves 4 inches apart.
7. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
8. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
9. Brush loaves with egg wash and optionally dust with sugar through a sieve or sprinkle with pearl sugar if you have it. and bake until golden brown and bottoms sound hollow when tapped, 40 to 45 minutes. Check the loaf at 30 to 35 minutes for the amount of browning as your oven may be warmer. You can also turn the loaf as the back of the oven may be hotter.
Because I used granulated sugar, It had still not melted so I used my kitchen torch to bruleé the sugar. This is not traditional. The pearl sugar is but it is not so easy to find.
I am not a fan of sweets but I do enjoy this light sprinkling on top of the pulla.
10. Transfer to a rack to cool.
STAY HOME STAY SAFE
We are especially thankful this Easter 2020. I have been at home all week baking Pulla for friends and family. Celebrations started early as my friend sent me an email thanking me for the fresh pulla. My friend had never tried pulla and said her whole family ate it all in one sitting. Downstairs, the concierge started eating it right away too (his second loaf), knowing it was ‘home baked’ by me. Extra prayers this Easter to the brave men and women all over the world. Blessings and hope for everyone during these troubled times and uncertainty.