TWD: Finnish Pulla Braid & A Cookbook Giveaway!

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.

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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

This Post Has 41 Comments

  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. 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.

    1. Thank you Inge! I will look forward to our version of the bread. Merry Christmas!

    1. Thank you Jessica, I had so much fun making it! — twice! 🙂

  3. 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!

    1. Thank you Andrea for stopping by. I love baking with the group!

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

    1. This bread is so good that the sugar was just the icing on the … um cake? Ha! ha!

  5. 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.

    1. I think the overnight should work, just wrap tight so it won’t expand too much!

  6. 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!

    1. Thank you and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    1. Thank you Carmen, are you baking this round? Merry Christmas!

  7. 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!

    1. You will love it Christmas breakfast, what a nice treat it will be!

  8. 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.

    1. I am definitely going to get the pods — and now I will be looking for 20 pods for a dollar! 🙂

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

    1. Oh my gosh, orange and cardamom together sounds luscious — another cake on my to-do list 🙂 Thanks!

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

    1. Thank you and thanks for stopping by! Love baking with you 🙂

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

  12. 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!

  13. That’s a recipe on my list for Feb. when I’m ready to bake again. 🙂

  14. 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!

    1. Just last week I was at a whole-foods type store and could have bought the cardamom, BUT — I hadn’t read the recipe yet! My bad.

  15. 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 …

    1. I know what you mean Sandy. I have the time but not the talent 🙂

  16. 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!

    1. Terri, I hope you will try this recipe. Bread making is also my favorite past time in the kitchen and this dough is some of the most beautiful to work with!

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