Finnish Pulla Bread Recipe

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The baking of Pulla is a holiday tradition in my household. The Collman kitchen transforms into a Pulla factory, and flour and cardamom cover the floor like spiced snow as we bake loaves for each family that we anticipate encountering during the Christmas season. This subtly sweet bread is fit to serve with an afternoon cup of coffee or for a fancy dinner party, and it also serves as an easy gift! Although the recipe below is my favorite, there are many alterations that can be made, and I encourage readers to experiment with ingredient substitutes and creative shapes!

 

Supplies: mixing bowl, small bowl, measuring cups & spoons, glazing brush, mixer (I prefer to use a long fork because it’s easier to clean than a whisk and I appreciate the arm workout), and baking sheets.

Ingredients:
  • 1 ½ cups lukewarm water (too hot, and it will kill the yeast; too cold, and it won’t grow)
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tbsp dry yeast
  • ⅓ cup melted butter
  • ⅔ cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 5-6 cups flour
  • Optional hot coffee for glazepulla1
Directions:
  1. Dump the first 6 ingredients into a mixing bowl.
  2. After the yeast dissolves, mix in 2 cups of flour (one cup at a time) and beat the mixture well to develop the gluten.
  3. Add the sugar, melted butter, and 2 beaten eggs.
  4. Mix well.
  5. Gradually add flour (3 to 6 cups) until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl. The consistency should be elastic and only slightly sticky, with no dry clumps of flour. If the air is dry, less flour will be needed to reach this point. Focus on the feel of the dough as opposed to following the exact recommendation of flour to be added.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth (but still a tad sticky!). 5 to 10 minutes is good for working out aggression. I highly recommend listening to your favorite music while baking!
  7. Place in bowl greased with butter or cooking oil and turn over to grease top.
  8. Cover with wet, warm dishtowel and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Make sure the room is fairly warm at this point. I recommend preheating the oven (375 degrees) at this point.
  9. Punch the dough down and divide it in half, then let rest for 10 minutes.pulla2
  10. Divide each half into 3 sections and braid the dough, pinching the ends under to keep the dough from unbraiding while rising.
  11. Place on greased cooking sheets, cover, and let rise again for 60 minutes.pulla3
  12. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes in the middle of the oven.
  13. Cool, then glaze with ¼ cup sugar dissolved in ¼ cup coffee (or melted butter if you’re not a coffee drinker), then slice and serve with a honey or Nutella spread!
Laila Collman was born and raised in the forests of Mt. Hood, Oregon, but currently lives in upstate New York. She enjoys hiking, camping, cycling, reading, swing dancing, oil painting, and traveling. One of her craziest experiences involves escaping from a flash flood at a Russian circus while carrying a child in her arms. Laila is pursuing her MSW with the hopes of improving environmental and social conditions both in her neighborhood and around the world.  Keep up with her on tumblr and pinterest, or email her at laila@germmagazine.com.

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