Last week, I posted Apricot Diamonds from the same cookbook this recipe comes from, The Winter Vegetarian. It was my cookbook for last week's focus for my year-long unread cookbook shelf project. Comments about the cookbook overall will be at the end.
Pulla is a Finnish sweet bread with cardamom. It has a similar texture to challah, with the addition of vanilla and cardamom. It came together quickly and ended up being pretty forgiving (I suspected I didn't add quite enough flour.) There are a lot of grandmothers in YouTube who will demonstrate two ways of braiding the bread - one uses three strands and the more traditional seem to use four. For simplicity, I went with three.
Pulla was delicious in slices, toasted, with butter and orange marmalade (because, you know, orange and cardamom are magical mystery twins.) It would have made good french toast too!
This recipe makes three loaves, but they freeze well. I brought two to work and kept one home.
Finnish Cardamom Bread (Pulla)
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp plus 3/4 cup sugar
2 cups lukewarm milk*
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cardamom (from about 32 pods)*
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, melted*
4 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
7-8 cups unbleached white flour
1 egg white, lightly beaten until frothy
3 tbsp sliced almonds*
3 tbsp pearl sugar or coarsely crushed sugar cubes
Dissolve the yeast in the water with 1 tsp of sugar until bubbly. Stir in the milk, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, salt, cardamom, melted butter, eggs, and 4 cups of the flour. Beat well. Gradually add just enough flour to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead until the dough is stmooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
Place the dough in a large greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover and leave to rise until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Punch down the dough and let rise again until nearly doubled, about 1 hour.
Divide the dough into three pieces. Divide each piece into three balls of equal size. Roll each ball out between your hands into a rope about 12 inches long. Braid three ropes together, turning the ends under. Place the loaf on a lightly greased baking sheet (you will need two sheets). Repeat with the remianing dough. Cover the loaves and leave them to rise until slightly puffy, 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Brush the loaves with the beaten egg white, then sprinkle each with 1 tbsp of almonds and 1 tbsp of pearl sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until nicely browned.
*Notes from JennyBakes: I used buttermilk because I had some I needed to use up. I didn't notice until typing this up that I was supposed to use salted butter, so I probably should have added salt as I don't keep salted butter on hand. I did not sprinkle almonds on the loaves before baking; I was worried they would burn. I used ground cardamom and did not grind it fresh from cardamom pods!
This time around, I marked more recipes than I got to. I bought all the ingredients for mushroom dumplings except couldn't find mushroom broth, and it wasn't a realistic weeknight dish, so the mushrooms went bad, whoops. I did make the turnip gratin but not the rutabaga pudding, another Finnish recipe. I tried making the sweet cheese pancakes (syrniki) but I feel I must have done something wrong as they weren't a great texture. I would have liked to make the blini and more of the sweets, but the majority of recipes in this book for regular food are too rich and too heavy for how we usually eat! But you never know until you try.