TWD: Finnish Pulla Braid & A Cookbook Giveaway!

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twd fin pulla sliced breadIt’s Tuesdays With Dorie and this week we baked Finnish Pulla from Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, Baking With Julia.  From Wikipedia:  Pulla (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈpulːɑ]) is a mildly-sweet Finnish sweet roll or dessert bread flavored with crushed cardamom seeds and occasionally raisins or sliced almonds.  Prior to last week if you asked me what I knew about “cardamom” I would say, “nada, nuttin’, not-a-thing.”  Of course, you would feel bad for me since you undoubtedly have been singing the cardamom praises for a long time! For me, I was on a HUGE learning curve for this recipe!

twd fin pulla upcloseIt all started when I read the recipe which says, “the traditional flavoring for a pulla is cardamom, which is best bought in the pod – powdered cardamom is invariably lackluster.”  Directions further indicate the seeds are taken from the pod and crushed.  Early chatter from other bakers on our Tuesdays With Dorie blog indicates “cardamom pods” just might be a little difficult to find if you live, say — out in the country in middle Tennessee.  Great. Probably means Walmart and Kroger are out when it comes to cardamom pods.
Finnish Pulla CardamonMy sous-chef dish-washing Mom and I trek off to the grocery store.  There I find a single bottle of ground cardamom for $10.99!  I said, “I’m not paying that much for something I don’t even know if I will ever use again!”  Then the wise woman at my side said, “Don’t be ridiculous, you love baking Dorie’s recipes, buy the spice.”  Yes ma’am.
My kitchenaid dough
I don’t want to understate making the bread, but it does go together in the usual way.  Scald milk. Add yeast to warm water. Cool milk, add sugar, cardamom, salt, eggs, and yeast mixture.  The recipe calls for all-purpose flour and I used bread flour.  I just don’t have good luck with all-purpose and see no reason to use it to make bread. I used my Kitchen Aid mixer to do the heavy kneading work!
TWD fin pulla doughThe bread flour was a good decision because between the flour, eggs, sugar, and butter this dough is absolutely divine.  And then the cardamom … oh my gosh, what have I been missing all these years?  The fragrance is unique. It is prominent but not pungent. Mixed with the smells from the yeasty bread the entire house smelled like a wonderful bakery!
TWD Fin pulla dough braidPulla is typically braided and often times made into a wreath for holiday celebrations.  I love the wreath idea but decided I wanted to share with friends so I made two braided loaves.   BTW – my new quartz kitchen counters are installed and I have a new stone sink as well.  I am thrilled to work the bread dough right on the cool stone countertops.
twd fin pulla 3 braidThe dough is easily made into long cords.
twd fin pulla braidingBraiding was fun and easy! Before baking, the braids are brushed with an egg wash and sprinkled with pearl sugar.  I didn’t have pearl sugar so I used Turbinado sugar and it worked perfectly.
twd fin pulla 2 braidsAs a matter-of-fact I plan to put my countertops to use tomorrow when I make this luscious bread again for a Christmas dinner party!  The bread is tender, slices beautifully and bakes up deliciously fragrant.
twd fin pulla sliced breadWhen I told my cousin Jill I was baking with cardamom for the first time she said she loves cardamom in apple pie!  The spice jar also suggests adding it to sweet potatoes and any pork dish.  I have a feeling I will be getting my money’s worth!

The contributing baker for this recipe is Beatrice Ojakangas.  Our baking host is Erin and you will find the recipe on her website at The Daily Morsel.

I still have a cookbook to giveaway this week.

christmas book SL 2012How to Enter

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Deadline: Wednesday, December 19, at 11:59pm CST.

Winner: The winner will be chosen at random using Random.org and announced at the top of this post on Thursday, December 20.

Disclaimer: This giveaway is sponsored by Pray Cook Blog, My Daily Bread Body and Soul. Good luck!

Merry Christmas and keep on cooking!
~Blessings, Catherine
Psalm 139-10

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41 responses to “TWD: Finnish Pulla Braid & A Cookbook Giveaway!

  1. Pretty braids! I agree about stone countertops, too – I make so many more breads now that my counters aren’t that icky plastic stuff from the ’70’s!

  2. Your loaves look wonderful! Glad you bought the cardamom it really adds a unique taste to recipes. I use cardamom in Swedish cookies called Hastskor for Christmas every year. You can find the recipe here: http://myculinarymission.blogspot.com/2011/12/cookie-tin.html ~Happy Holidays!

  3. Such a beautiful presentation of this recipe. It brought back memories of my mother making it back in Germany. It was a ‘Hefekranz’ and it is very similar to this pulla, minus the cardamom. Cardamom sounds like a delicious addition to this bread. We can’t wait to try our gf version over the next couple of weeks. Beautiful post, Catherine.

  4. Catherine, you certainly baked two very impressive and pretty looking perfectly braided breads! I really enjoyed reading your post (love the bit about being indecisive for a moment about buying the cradmom) and looking at your wonderful photos!

  5. Your loaves look wondrful. I didn’t have pearl sugar either – I just used sparkle sugar.

  6. Love the two loaves. I’m making it again for a family Christmas party as well. I’m going to leave it in the fridge overnight braided and bake the next morning so it is fresh for the party. Hope it works.

  7. I love cardamom in small doses. This bread was a little light, but really good. Your breads are beautiful. I hooe you have a very Merry Christmas!

  8. Your Pulla braid came out perfect! Look forward to baking it.

    Carmen
    http://bakingismyzen.wordpress.com

  9. Simply beautiful bread…love the photo with the sliced pieces! I haven’t sliced mine yet…can’t wait! I froze it to have for Christmas breakfast! Merry Christmas!

  10. Your braided loaves look fantastic! I am going to do loaves next time. Like you, I had never used cardamom before either. I had heard of it, but didn’t know what it was like. Well I love it now! I was lucky enough to find the green pods in bulk food store and paid under a dollar for 20 pods. I used 10 pods for the recipe. Don’t give up looking, as it is great taking the seeds fromm the pods and crushing them. The smell is incredible.

  11. as usual your process pictures are great! I love bread baking and this recipe is definitely a keeper!

  12. So glad you were introduced to cardamom through the bread this week. If you are looking for more ways to use it, this is one of my all time favorite cakes: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/orange-cardamom-cake-10000000833361/ Happy Holidays!

  13. Your braided bread loaves turned out beautifully. Congratulations on your lovely new counter top!

  14. Good post and pictures. Well done!
    Your Pulla looks wonderful!
    Happy Holidays!

  15. Cardamom is so worth the price! I predict you’ll find lots of uses for it. I love your counters – so perfect for bread-making!

  16. That’s a recipe on my list for Feb. when I’m ready to bake again. :-)

  17. I know! Cardamom is pricey. I did, however, find a bottle at Whole Foods for five dollars, so you might want to give that a try. They were by far the cheapest option near me. Your bread looks great, by the way!

  18. I’m going to try it for sure!

  19. Your braid looks fabulous … and the cookies on your book give-away look awesome — I wish I had that kind of time to decorate my cookies like that! lol …

  20. I follow you on Pinterest

  21. I subscribe to your e-mail

  22. What a wonderful post, bread baking is my favorite thing to do in the kitchen. I’ve never made this bread though. I have only used cardamom in biscotti, which I used several days ago! I may have to try this recipe now! Your bread turned out beautiful!

I'd love to hear from you ~ Comments welcome!