Pulla: Finnish Cardamon Bread

EASTER CELEBRATIONS
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.

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INGREDIENTS (makes 2 loaves)

  • 1/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F –  45 degrees C)
  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast ( 2 1/4 tsp. )
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk ( 105  – 115 F – same as water)
  • 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 or grated
  • 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 )

INSTRUCTIONS

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] This is the most critical part of the recipe.

Yeast In Full Bloom – Mixed With Warm Water ( + A Pinch Of  Sugar )

2. Stir together flour, sugar, cardamom, and salt in a large bowl. You can also sift these  ingredients together to remove any hard lumps in the flour.  Then blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Alternatively,  grate the cold butter using a box grater onto the flour mixture and fluff with  your fingers (like I do).
3. Stir in milk, 1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk,  and yeast mixture with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.
4. 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.  Alternatively, knead in your stand mixer or food processor with the dough hook.
5. Form dough into a ball and put 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.

First Raising – Dough  (My Bowl Was Too Small –  But It Worked Well)

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. Or, on two different trays (like I did).

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.

After Second Rising – Added Egg White Wash + Almonds

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.  Bake until golden brown about 35-45 minutes.  Check loaf after 30 minutes.  My pulla was done in 36 minutes. Every oven is different. Some ovens run hotter that others. Rotate the pulla from back to front in the oven, about half way through cooking time – to get an even bake.

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.

Torching The Sugar To Melt Into The Loaf

10. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Easter Blessings

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 (his second loaf); warm, home baked pulla – 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.

20 thoughts on “Pulla: Finnish Cardamon Bread

    • Simply Splendid Food says:

      Pearl sugar is a large grain sugar found in Scandinavian stores. TIP: Make sure you take the temperature of the milk and the temperature of the water – when adding the yeast. If the water is too hot, it will kill the yeast. I will expand the picture of the blooming yeast to large so you can see it better. To see what it should look like. Mom watched the yeast like a scientist with a petri dish. Good luck and –I hope you enjoy this sweet treat! 💖

      Liked by 1 person

  1. marymtf says:

    If it’s not immediately obvious, I often try to find out where the blogger is posting from. But this cursed virus has affected all of us. It has brought us together and made us one.

    Like

  2. Eric Orpana says:

    Eva
    Isolating at home trying to master some of the recipes of my great aunt and grandmas. Of course they didn’t have any recipes. Some success with Karjalan Piirakkaas. Pulla is next. When we were kids mom made ‘purple pudding’. Tell me she didn’t just put grape juice in our Cream of Wheat. The Finnish Cook Book has a recipe for ‘Whipped Berry Pudding’. Could that be it? Hope you are well.

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    • Simply Splendid Food says:

      I have made pulla so many different ways. I got some guidance from mom. Of course she never measured anything. This recipe is the closest to mom. It has to be the cardamon. I use double amount than most recipes ( taste like mom’s). The recipe in the Finnish cook book is not so good. I made it out of curiosity. I don’t know the purple/cream of wheat. As you know farina and lingonberry + blueberry gives you purple pudding. The Finnish cook book missed that one! 😁

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      • Eric Orpana says:

        Thank you. I’ll try your recipe. For me it’s the cardamom that makes this bread so special. My mom made it in loaves. Any suggestions on cooking time??

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      • Simply Splendid Food says:

        Hello Eric, I hope that you and your family are well. I set a timer at the 30 minute mark and checked the loaves. All ovens are slightly different with respect to the heat. The pulla was too light. The loaves were clearly a little darker on the side towards the back and so I rotated the sheet pans and gave it another 5 minutes until the top was nicely browned. Rotating breads and cakes is something that bakers will routinely do anyway. After 5 minutes it was nicely browned all over. Some recipes say to tap the bottom to see if it sounds hollow. I’m not going to pick up a piece of hot bread even with gloves on. If it looks done it is. Experience will tell you. I have tried the Finnish Cook Book recipe.
        It produces a large volume of dough which makes 3 loaves. It needed a longer cooking time and I had to actually rotate the pans as the middle pulla did not cook as much. I will not make that recipe again as the volume of dough was so large that my stand mixer started smoking from the kneading. Fortunately the motor did not burn out. What are you going to do with 3 loaves anyway? I hope this helps.
        Best, Eva

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  3. Eric Orpana says:

    Eva. I made it from the Finnish Cook Book. Not impressed. I have a couple of other recipes. Not impressed. My mom made it in a loaf pan like bread. Delicious sliced and toasted in the toaster. I am going to try your recipe that way.
    You and yours —- stay safe. Thank you again.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Merry Men says:

    You have really timed this well and thank you for the good instructions. Some recipes do not show you or tell you the little IMPORTANT details. I applaud your efforts and am excited to make this lovely masterpiece! 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

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