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)
- 1/4 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 )
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (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.