Traditional Finnish Pulla is sweet, cardamom flavoured bread that encapsulates the essence of Finnish baking. It is simple to make with few ingredients, but tastes like home.
When I made my very own first batch of Pulla the smell of cardamom brought childhood memories flooding back. My Mum used to make Pulla when we were kids and is one of my longtime favourites. In the past I have made scroll type Pulla with cinnamon as posted here, and the traditional (although mine took on a somewhat rogue shape) Korvapuusti shaped Pulla as posted here.
Kneading Pulla dough isn’t for the faint hearted. I estimate it takes a good 15 minutes of kneading to get the dough perfect. My Mum’s tip is the softer the dough, the softer the Pulla. There is quite a bit of mixing prior to kneading as well.
I have recently heard that the Thermomix makes light work of the kneading, as does a dough hook on a mixer reducing the risk of RSI that comes from kneading. I must say the kneading does not turn me off, clearly, since I made Pulla on Sunday and again today.
My son has decided Pulla is a must-have for his lunchbox. My son has great taste.
500ml warm milk
900g plain flour
6tsp dry yeast
200g melted butter
Sugar to dust on top
30g flaked almonds
1 egg (to brush on top)
** You can add a handful of raisins to the dough before you roll it out if you like.
This recipe makes 3 Pulla loaves. You can halve the ingredients if you wish to make 1 bigger loaf but I prefer to make 3 loaves after the effort of kneading.
Pulla freezes well in an airtight freezer bag and can be defrosted in the oven. Perfect to serve to unexpected guests, they’ll think you’ve been baking all day!
Preheat oven to 225oC.
Mix warm milk, 2 eggs, sugar, salt and cardamom together until the sugar has melted.
In a separate bowl mix the flour and yeast together.
Using a spoon to mix, start adding a little of the flour and yeast through the milk mixture. Keep adding the flour a little by little, and when the mixture starts to resemble dough, ditch the spoon and use your hand. Knead until the dough comes off your hand (don’t worry if you have not used all the flour).
Add slightly cooled melted butter and keep kneading until it is all absorbed into the mix. Don’t worry if it seems the dough is swimming in the butter, as you keep kneading the butter will be absorbed into the dough.
If the dough is too moist and sticks to your hand, add a little more flour. Knead until the dough is super soft. Mum’s tip: the softer the dough, the softer the pulla.
Cover the kneaded dough with a tea towel and let it rise to double its size in a warm place (away from draft), for approximately 1 hour.
Once risen, punch the dough once, then pour out onto a lightly floured work bench. Divide into 3 to make 3 loaves.
Divide the first portion into 3 pieces and roll out each piece into a long rope shape approx 50cm in length. Place each piece onto a baking tray side by side, press one end of all 3 rope pieces together then plait. Tuck both ends under to make loaf neat.
Cover with a teatowel and let rise for about 15-20 minutes. Brush the top and sides of the loaf with beaten egg, then sprinkle sugar and a handful of flaked almonds on top.
Bake in a preheated oven at 225oC for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Do not overcook as the Pulla will dry out.
Best eaten fresh out the oven. I can guarantee you won’t be able to resist, the smell of freshly baked Pulla is amazing! Accompany with freshly brewed coffee for a delicious afternoon tea treat.
Don’t forget to pop some into your kid’s lunch box!