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loaf of pulla bread on a cooling rack with a cup of coffee

Pulla: Finnish Cardamom Bread

  • Author: Emma
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 35 minutes
  • Yield: 20 slices 1x


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)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Gradually mix in the flour with your hand until a soft, somewhat sticky dough has formed.
  4. 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.
  5. 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)

  1. Line a large, light-colored metal cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Punch down the dough, then divide it into 4 equal pieces, using a kitchen scale for accuracy.  Each piece should weigh approximately 243g.
  3. 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.
  4. Place the four strands side by side and join them together at the top.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Let the braided loaf prove for about 30 minutes, until the dough springs back quickly when gently prodded with a fingertip.
  8. About 10 minutes before the dough has finished proving, preheat the oven to 375 F.

Decorating the Loaf (5 min + 20 min baking)

  1. Brush the loaf with the lightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with pearl sugar.
  2. 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.
  3. 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



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