Pulla, a soft and fluffy cardamom bread recipe from Finland, is easy to make without a bread machine or mixer. This authentic sweet treat tastes great with coffee on a cold day! This beautiful braided loaf will disappear quickly among family and friends.
- 1 cup + 1 tablespoon whole milk (250 ml)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (32g)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar (75g)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 2 teaspoons fine salt (10g)
- 3 teaspoons fast-action yeast (10g)
- 5 cups bread flour (600g)
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons pearl sugar
Making the Dough (45 min + 1 1/2 hrs proving)
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, then pour in the milk and stir until the mixture reaches 115 F. Remove from the heat.
- Crack the eggs into a large bowl and add the milk mixture, sugar, cardamom, and salt. Whisk until well combined, then sprinkle in the yeast and whisk again.
- Gradually mix in the flour with your hand 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. Place the dough in a warm place and let it prove until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Shaping the Loaf (25 min + 30 min proving)
- Line a large, light-colored metal cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Punch down the dough, then divide it into 4 equal pieces, using a kitchen scale for accuracy. Each piece should weigh approximately 243g.
- Roll each piece of dough into a rope 2 feet long. Be sure not to use a floured surface during this step. 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.
- Plait the dough in a four-strand braid. 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.
- 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 braided 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 min + 20 min baking)
- Brush the loaf with the lightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with pearl sugar.
- Bake at 375 F for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 300 F and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Cover the loaf with a piece of aluminum foil once it is nicely browned. The bread is done when it has an internal temperature of 190 F.
- Let the bread cool completely on a wire rack before eating.
- Be sure to use bread flour and not all-purpose flour when making yeast breads. The additional gluten in bread flour gives the dough strength to rise higher and makes it more chewy. All-purpose flour will not give you the same results.
- Help the dough rise more quickly by placing it in a steamy oven. This is a handy tip, especially during the cold winter months. Place the bowl of dough on the middle rack of a cold oven, and put a pan of boiling water on the rack below the dough. Keep the oven door shut to trap the warm steam in the oven.
- Don’t stretch the strands of dough when you’re braiding the loaf. This will make the loaf skinnier at one end than the other.
- Don’t have pearl sugar? Make your own. Put 1/2 cup of granulated sugar in a large skillet, add 1 tablespoon of water, and stir until the sugar forms clumps. Add water 1/4 teaspoon at a time if not all the sugar clumped. Set the pan over medium-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.
- Place an extra cookie sheet under the loaf while it’s baking. The air trapped between the two cookie sheets insulates the bottom, keeping it from browning too quickly.
- Use a thermometer to check when your bread is done baking. The loaf should be a rich golden brown and have an internal temperature of 190 F.
- Category: Bread
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Finnish
Keywords: cardamom bread, pulla bread, finnish recipes