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.

Lentil Soup – The Joy of Goodness!

 

‘PLANT BASED PROTEIN DIET’

lentils

Beluga Black Lentils

Lentil soup is a hearty soup made with small legumes known as lentils, which are similar to beans. The soup also includes other spices and vegetables. This soup is easy to make as a vegetarian or vegan  -very healthy dish!  Although there are many different recipes for making this soup, the basics are fairly constant across recipes….except for this one!
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INGREDIENTS

  • Beluga Black lentil 1 cup rinsed (and picked)
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive oil ( or sesame oil)
  • 1 Onion large ( up to 1 cup)
  • 1 Clove garlic – large
  • 4 cups water ( or stock)
  • 10-15 green pods of cardamom
  • 1 tea spoon cumin seeds
  • Ginger root 1/2 inch peeled chopped –  or grated
  • 1 carrot peeled & chopped
  • 1/8 tsp. Cayenne pepper .
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  • In a frying pan with 2 inch sides (or dutch oven)
  • Add Oil
  • Add chopped onions (cook until translucent)  followed by 1 clove of chopped garlic
  • Add cumin* (fresh ground)
  • Add cardamon* (fresh ground seeds)
  • Add Cayenne pepper 1/8 tsp.
  • Add beluga black lentils
  • Add 4 cups of water, mix well
  • Bring to a boil then cover over medium heat, cook until lentils are cooked but not mush. About 20 mins
  • Add chopped ( or grated ) ginger, salt and chopped carrot. Cook for another 5-10 mins.


This is a thick soup. You may need to add a bit more water if you wish.
TIP: *Use a soft brush to get all the spice out of the mortar bowl  –  into the pot.
CARDAMOM: Cardamom pods vary in size. Loose cardamom in bulk stores may be dried out. Also, there are large and small pods. Use common sense when adding ‘fresh’ spices to your recipe.

Beluga Lentil Soup – Garnished with Avocado and a dollop of Greek  yogurt + a sprinkle of cayenne pepper (or paprika)

TIPS AND TRICKS
I always cook Beluga lentils in a separate pot for this recipe in order to save a portion for my Lentil  Butternut Squash Salad. I add 1 cup of cooked lentils to the soup ( plus the cooking water ) and the rest is capped for salads. I enjoy this salad very much with walnut oil.  Substitutes for butternut squash are acorn squash,  yams or pumpkin [ even chick peas ]. Sometimes, I make this Beluga lentil salad with  mango, red pepper and chopped sweet onions – with plenty of cilantro.

Beluga Lentil, Roasted Squash, Tomato and Cilantro Salad

NATIONAL LENTIL FESTIVAL
PULLMAN, WASHINGTON, USA

Pullman hosts this annual festivity every August, which recognizes the magically delicious legume and features the world’s largest bowl of lentil chili! Lentilfest.com

21st Legendary Lentil Cook-OFF:
Each spring, people send recipes from around the country. A panel of food experts evaluates the dishes and selects five finalists who are brought to the festival to prepare their dish for a panel of five celebrity judges. ( All 109 of this year’s recipes are available in a cookbook for sale for $5 at the festival and online. Hungry yet?)

LENTIL CHILI -It takes a canoe paddle to stir 350 gallons of lentil chili.

STORING LENTILS
I freeze my cooked lentils in glass jars. I find it is the safest method for preserving food. To learn more about lentils visit this site –> tasteinsight.com

INTERESTING FACTS About Beluga Black Lentil
Black lentils are called BELUGA because of their resemblance to caviar. A fun conversation at the dinner table. They have a warm, nutty flavor and keeps its shape, even during prolonged cooking. They are the most nutritious out of all the types of lentils. On the other hand, the red lentils, also called red ‘split’ lentils become a bit mushy while cooking. Similar to what you see with ‘split pea’ soup. In India, the lentil is known as dal or daal. [ The optical lens is named after the Latin word for lentil: lens. ]

LENTIL SOUP:  CURE FOR THE WINTER CHILL

Finding the balance in life – with lentils