For several years now, we’ve had a recipe for Pulla, or Finnish cardamom bread, sitting in our cupboard. One of my Canadian relatives gave it to us a few years ago, but I hadn’t made it until recently because I wanted to improve my breadmaking skills. I’ve slightly changed the original recipe, and I think it’s a keeper for sure!
Pulla is a popular Finnish bread often served with coffee or tea. It’s basically a light brioche dough that tastes fantastic plain or with butter. It makes a wonderful afternoon snack with a cup of tea, since it’s so fluffy and yummy. You might just want two or three slices!
Although the braiding looks hard, it’s really not too difficult. Start by laying all four strands of dough side by side and squeeze them together at the top to join them. Tack the dough to the work surface by pushing down at the top with your thumb. Think of the strands of being numbered from 1 to 4, from left to right. Bring 4 over 3, then bring 2 over 1. Cross the new strand 2 over strand 3. Repeat this sequence until the whole loaf is plaited, then squeeze the end to seal and tuck both ends underneath the loaf. Prove, bake, and enjoy!
Freeze leftover bread in slices and pull it out for breakfast or snack time. Your family will love it plain or toasted!Print
This delicious recipe for Pulla, or Finnish cardamom bread, makes a light brioche dough that’s plaited and sprinkled with pearl sugar before baking.
For the Dough
- 1 cup whole milk (250 ml)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (32g)
- 1 1/2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup caster sugar (75g)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 2 1/4 teaspoons fast-action yeast (7g)
- 1 lb 5 oz bread flour (600g)
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- 1-2 tablespoons pearl sugar
Making the Dough (45 minutes + 2 hours proving)
- Put the milk and butter in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the butter has melted and the mixture reaches 115 F. Remove from the heat.
- Crack the eggs into a bowl and add the milk mixture, sugar, cardamom, salt, and yeast. Stir well to combine.
- Gradually stir in the flour until the dough becomes too stiff to stir. Continue to add more flour and mix with your hands until a soft, somewhat sticky dough has formed.
- Knead the dough briefly in the bowl, then turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes until the dough is no longer so sticky and is smooth and elastic.
- Shape the dough into a ball, place in a lightly buttered bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside to prove until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Shaping the Loaf (30 minutes + 30 minutes proving)
- Line a large, light-colored metal cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Knock back the dough by punching it down all over, then divide it into 4 equal pieces, using a kitchen scale for accuracy. Each piece should weigh approximately 226 grams.
- For each piece, punch it down into a rough rectangle, then roll it up and pinch the seam to seal. Roll the log to a 2 foot long rope. If the dough isn’t rolling easily, let it rest for a few minutes, then come back to it.
- Place the four strands side by side and join them together at the top. Stick them to the work surface by pressing down firmly with your thumb.
- Plait the dough in a four-strand braid. See the post for step-by-step instructions on this step.
- Tuck the ends of the plait underneath the loaf and transfer it to the prepared cookie sheet. Place the tray inside a large, clean garbage bag and tuck the ends underneath the tray to seal.
- Let the loaf prove for about 30 minutes, until the dough springs back quickly when gently prodded with a fingertip.
- About 10 minutes before the dough has finished proving, preheat the oven to 375 F.
Decorating the Loaf (5 minutes + 20 minutes baking + 10 minutes cooling)
- Brush the loaf with the lightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with pearl sugar.
- Bake at 375 F for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 360 F and bake for another 10 minutes. Lower the temperature again to 300 F and bake for another 3-5 minutes.
- To check if the loaf is done, take its internal temperature with a meat thermometer. It should read between 185-190 F. The loaf also should be a rich golden brown on the top and bottom.
- Let the bread cool for 10 minutes before eating.
- Don’t use very much flour when rolling the dough into ropes, or it will be impossible to roll them out.
- If you don’t have pearl sugar in your pantry, just place 3/4 cup of granulated sugar in a large skillet. Add 1 tablespoon of water and stir until the sugar forms medium-small clumps. Add water 1/4 teaspoon at a time if not all the sugar clumped. Set the pan over very low heat and stir frequently until the sugar clumps have dried out and you can pick them up easily with a spoon. They will continue to harden as they cool.