Finnish Pulla is a celebration bread braided beautifully like a wreath. It gets its nice flavor from the cardamom and it is adorned with crunchy almonds as finishing on top.
Here we are in March, almost approaching spring, and then a heavy amount of snow comes down like winter means serious business, still.
Oh yes, just when you think you are so ready to see parts of the brown soil emerging from the melting snow, a big snow storm comes to pile up again.
But then, instead of freaking out, I have willed myself that it is better to relax and do some therapeutic kneading of dough, and maybe a little braiding for added fun.
There is nothing cozier than being indoors on a snowy day, savoring the aroma of bread baking in the oven.
It is a perfect day for this Finnish Pulla, it seems.
Finnish Pulla is a cardamom infused bread. For that reason, it has a nice touch of fresh, bright flavor that is noticeable yet so subtle.
If you have not tried cardamom before, this recipe is a perfect way to get introduced to it. This introduces you to the pleasing, and unique flavor profile of cardamom spice.
Finnish Pulla: The Process
You start off by proofing the yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Once the yeast is foamy, stir in warm milk, eggs, cardamom, sugar and salt.
Add 2 cups of flour and use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture until smooth. Stir in the butter, then add just enough from the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough is formed.
The consistency should be like the one shown in the photo below, soft, shaggy and not dry.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Then turn it out on a lightly floured surface and knead for about ten minutes, until it smooth and elastic.
Pointers for Kneading Dough
- Knead the dough using mainly the heels of your palms, pushing the dough downwards and away from your body. Use your weight as you do so.
- Once the dough is somewhat a flat mass, Fold the dough in half over itself and start the pushing and kneading motion in your palms again. Repeat until dough is smooth and elastic.
- My favorite way to test the doneness of dough is the windowpane test.
Shape the kneaded dough into a ball and let it rise inside a bowl, covered. This should take 60 minutes or so until the dough is doubled in size.
Gently knead the dough briefly just to deflate. Divide it into three equal portions. Roll each portion into a rope that is 36 inches long.
Starting from one end, braid the three ropes together until you reach the other end.
Lift it up to place it on a 14-inch pizza pan that is lined with parchment paper. As you lay it down, shape it into a circle. Seal the ends and fuse them together to close the circle.
Let this rise for about 45 minutes, covered loosely with a clean kitchen towel.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Brush the surface of the dough with the egg glaze, sprinkle with sugar and top with sliced almonds.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden.
This Finnish Pulla is a stunner out of the oven. And who cares if it is blowing snow outside? I will grab myself a slice, pour out a mug of tea and stay warm inside.
Do you love baking bread? Here are more bread recipes from the blog:
- Brioche Braid with Photo Tutorial
- Brioche Bread Ring with Honey Stung Cream Cheese
- Milk Bread
- Japanese Milk Buns
- Soft and Buttery Sugar Buns
- Chocolate Brioche
- Cream Cheese Brioche
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup warm water 110-115 F
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten,room temperature
- 4 and 1/2 to 5 cups all purpose flour
- 1 stick unsalted butter melted
For the Glaze
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp milk
For the Topping
- sliced almonds
In a microwave-safe bowl, warm the milk until it reaches 110 F. In a large mixing bowl, stir the yeast in warm water and let it sit for about 5 minutes until foamy.
Add the milk, sugar, cardamom, salt, and eggs to the large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon to incorporate everything. Add 2 cups of flour and stir until smooth. Stir in the butter and add just enough of the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until a soft dough is formed. The dough should be able to gather together in a shaggy mass but is not dry.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about ten minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic. Shape it into a ball and place it in a bowl. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 1 hour or until doubled.
Shape The Dough
Line a 14-inch pizza pan with parchment paper and set aside. Lightly knead the dough just to deflate it and divide it into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion into a long rope of about 36 inches in length. Braid the three ropes of dough from one end and once you reach the other end, lift the dough and transfer it to the pizza pan, shaping it into a circle as you lay it down. Pinch and seal the ends together to close the circle.
Cover the assembled dough with a clean towel and let rise for about 45 minutes until puffy, but not necessarily doubled.
Bake the Pulla
Preheat oven to 375 F. Beat one egg with 1 tablespoon of milk and brush this glaze over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle the top with sugar and almonds. Bake pulla for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden.
Recipe from Baking with Julia.
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