Finnish Pulla

by cakeduchess on December 22, 2012 · 20 comments


I look forward to baking Christmas breads every year. This beautiful cardamom spiced Finnish Pulla is officially one of my favorite Christmas breads.

The past week I have shared some beautiful Christmas breads for you to try. The first was the Romanian swirl bread from Roxana’s Home Baking. Next, I shared this easy version of a panettone: Bundt Panettone. Last year I shared a typical bread from Genoa, Italy: Pandolce Genovese. Earlier this month you saw my Christmas Stollen.  They are all fantastic recipes to try if you would like to bake a holiday bread this year. 
I found this lovely recipe in Saveur Magazine (April 2010, Issue #128). This bread reminds me of the Italian Easter bread (guti di Pasqua) that my mother-in-law and her mother make.  The unmistakable perfume of cardamom permeating in the kitchen while it bakes seems to be the only difference between these wonderful holiday breads. 
Cardamom comes from India and other parts of southeast Asia. Cardamom first made its way to Scandinavia after some Vikings purchased it from Constantinople. It has a fruity flavor similar to citrus. Cardamom is primarily used in Finland and other Scandinavian countries in baking. It is also uses to flavor tea and savory dishes in other places around the world. In Sweden, the bread is known as vetebrod, while in Norway it is known as hvetebrod, both of which mean wheat bread.

Last week was Finnish Pulla week with Tuesdays with Dorie. You can see all the wonderful versions here. Another beautiful version on my friend Shulie’s blog is here.

The bread is usually glazed with an egg and some milk before being baked. It can be braided into a loaf or a wreath. The texture is very similar to a brioche, rich from the eggs, milk and butter.  Some bakers sprinkle sliced almonds or raw sugar on top of the dough as well. I sprinkled some granulated sugar on top that I have leftover from Italy this summer. It adds a festive touch to this beautiful bread. 

Finnish Pulla
slightly adapted from Saveur

1 1⁄3 cups milk, heated to 115°
2⁄3 cup sugar
4 tsp. ground cardamom
2 1⁄4-oz. packages active dry yeast
3 eggs, lightly beaten
6 1⁄2 cups flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2″ cubes, at                
   room temperature
1 tbsp. heavy cream
1 egg yolk

Crushed lump sugar, for garnish (optional)
Sliced almonds, for garnish (optional)


In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together milk, sugar, 3 tsp. cardamom, and yeast;  let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. With dough hook attached, add eggs one at a time; mix to combine. Add flour and salt; mix until a dough forms. Knead dough on medium speed for 2 minutes. While kneading, slowly add butter a little at a time, mixing until incorporated before adding next batch, 3–4 minutes; continue kneading for 4 minutes more after last of butter is added. Transfer dough to a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let sit until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch down dough; cover again with plastic wrap and let sit until fully risen, 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 375°. Transfer dough to a work surface and divide into 2 equal pieces. Set 1 piece aside and divide other piece into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion between your palms and work surface to create a 16″ rope. Braid ropes together to form a loaf. *You can see photos on braiding into loaf on my stollen post.  Transfer loaf to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Repeat with second dough piece. Cover loaves with plastic wrap and let sit until slightly puffed up, about 20 minutes. Or you can make one large wreath like I did with all the dough. 
Whisk together remaining cardamom, cream, and egg yolk in a small bowl; brush over loaves. Sprinkle with sugar and almonds (if using); bake, one loaf at a time *or bake the wreath, until golden brown, 20–25 minutes. Transfer to a rack; let cool 10 minutes before serving.
Happy Baking! xo

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Valerie December 22, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Absolutely gorgeous! I can practically smell the cardamom wafting through the house. :)


Shulie Foodwanderings December 22, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Aww you, I totally didn’t expect to see the mention here. Thank you! Your breads are always so beautiful and you got such a fine collection of Christmas breads. The finnish Pulla looks mouthwatering. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Lora. Shulie


decocinasytacones December 22, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Hmm, this looks so yummy it made my hungry!
Merry Christmas to you and your family.


Lyndsey Chapin December 22, 2012 at 8:37 pm

It’s so ptetty! I wish that I could live at your house…but then I would probably be as big as a house! I hope you have a happy holiday!


Lisa December 22, 2012 at 9:20 pm

You are such an amazing baker! I would like 5 of these, please (I’d probably be able to eat them myself within a week lol).One of the prettiest Finnish Pullas I’ve ever seen xo


Cher Rockwell December 22, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Lora – your pulla is beautiful!
Merry Christmas


Lizzy Do December 23, 2012 at 12:07 am

Simply gorgeous! I love the sugar you used…such a pretty touch. And of course your braiding is lovely. Merry, merry Christmas!


Mari December 23, 2012 at 12:45 am

What a beauty! It the perfect Christmas bread, I love it!

Have a wonderful blessed Holiday :) Hugs


Laura (Tutti Dolci) December 23, 2012 at 1:56 am

Beautiful bread, Lora! I love the cardamom and your braiding is always perfect! Merry Christmas! :)


Swathi Iyer December 23, 2012 at 2:46 am

Lora,I love this bread, as it has cardamom in it. That is my favorite spice.


kim - Liv Life December 23, 2012 at 3:31 am

Another beautiful bread Lora!! I’m loving the flavors here, and I know it would be a beautiful “Finnish” (sorry… couldn’t resist!) to my Christmas table.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday with you family… my best to your mom too.


Teresa December 23, 2012 at 5:00 am

Lovely! It was fun seeing all the pullas from the Tuesdays with Dorie crew this week. I think we all felt very accomplished and the bread itself is fantastic. Definitely a Christmas tradition in the making.


Kate@Diethood December 23, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Your bread is always spot on. I wish we lived together. ;-) I would eat everything! I wouldn’t leave a crumb!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!! xoxo


Phong Hong December 23, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Lora, that’s a gorgeous looking bread! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and all at home!


Susan Lindquist December 24, 2012 at 4:56 am

What a beauty! I was just talking with a friend about Finnish pulla and nissu … you’re way ahead of me here!


Paula December 25, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Just popping in to admire your beautiful bread and to wish you and your family and wonderful and blessed holiday. All the best to all of you in the coming year and continued success with Cake Duchess.

Merry Christmas Lora!


Lorraine Joy Alegria-Vizcarra December 25, 2012 at 10:31 pm

The bread looks great.


lena December 25, 2012 at 11:32 pm

hi lora, coming by to wish you Merry christmas! Have a wonderful celebration with your family and loved ones!!


Jamie December 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm

I love your yeast breads…. stunning and I want to make every one. This one is splendid! That is now two on my bake list for…next week.


krishna January 8, 2013 at 7:01 pm

love your bread..


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