It’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!
It 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.
My 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.
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!
The 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!
Pulla 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.
The dough is easily made into long cords.
Braiding 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.
As 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.
When 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!
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