Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pulla - Finnish Sweet Bread

I have this AMAZINGLY talented friend. He does everything from remodeling his home and refurbishing rebuilding old pianos to computer programing, sewing and cooking. Your all around renaissance man. And every year at Christmas time Chaz makes this delectable bread called Pulla. He learned to make it will serving a mission for our church in Finland. He picked up some tips and tricks to making this Finnish delight from a local.

Apparently in Finland Pulla is consumed like Americans consume doughnuts or pastries. Pulla is a mildly sweet bread, flavored with cardamom, that is eaten with coffee or hot chocolate. I had to borrow this photo of Pulla bread from wikipedia because unfortunately I have to confess, I don't have any pictures to show you of a finished Pulla. "Why?" you ask, well, darn it, i ate it all this year before I remembered I hadn't taken a final picture. Aggghh!!!!!

So anyways, below are the step by step instructions. I've been bugging Chaz to have me over when he actually makes the bread so I can learn and this year our schedules finally lined up. THANKS CHAZ!!

First, here is the recipe

Pulla or Finnish Sweet Bread

2.5 c milk
1.5 sticks butter
2 packets yeast
2/3 c sugar
2 Tblsp cardamon
2 eggs
6-7 cups flour

Step 1: Warm the milk and melt the butter in it. (First I should preface this entire recipe with the fact that Chaz has a teeny-tiny kitchen and he is in the midst of doing a whole house remodel - i.e. knocking down walls, ceilings and a roof -- and he still finds the time and means for baking up batch after batch of delicious bread for everyone during the holiday season.)

Step 2: mix together the eggs, the yeast, and the sugar.

I had to show you that eggs don't get much fresher than this. Chaz has his own chicken coop and gets fresh eggs daily. (What did I tell you about him being a renaissance man - it's enough to give a woman a complex)

Step 3: crush the cardamom (usually comes in small seeds).

Chaz gave me a quick course in Cardamom 101 - normally cardamom is a very black pungent seed that comes from a pod found on a plant that is indigenous to India. For some reason the seeds that we get from our stores here in the states seem to be less potent and grayer in color - leading one to believe that they're much less fresh than cardamom which can be found in Finland. So Chaz actually uses a bit more cardamom than the recipe calls for, when he's baking here in the states, because the cardamom is less potent.

You'll need to crush/grind the cardamom seeds. If you've got a spice grinder, that will work great. Mortar and pestle will also work. If you don't have either of those, you can do as Chaz does and just use your blender - unique, but effective.

You can add the ground cardamom to the egg and sugar mixture.

Step 4: Once the butter has completed melted and the milk is starting to scald, temper the egg/yeast/sugar mixture with some of the heated milk/butter mixture. Once tempered, add the all of milk mixture to the egg mixture

Step 5: add 1-2 cups of flour to the wet mixture, this just helps things get started (the yeast becomes active)

Step 6: (if waiting can be considered a step) You now set the dough aside to rise for 20-30 minutes.

Chaz taught me another technique for rising dough - he fills up his sink with warm water and then just sets the bowl in the warm water = warm, moist environment for raising the dough.

Step 7: after it has risen and bubbled a little, you add the rest of the flour. The dough should remain relatively tacky. Shape it into a ball and let it rest in the bowl to rise more.

Here's the dough after it has had time to rest and the yeast has started to do its job.

After adding the remaining flour the dough is being set back into the bath of warm water to have time to rise a second time.

In between rising times, Chaz taught me how to use a nail gun as he had to frame out his new garage door -- fun, fun, fun!

Step 8: after this second chance to rise, your dough is ready to work. You will need to knead it for 3-5 minutes. Kneading will help develop the glutton.

Please note Chaz's amazing bread board. This beautiful kitchen tool is sooo well seasoned and loved that he didn't even need any flour on it. It's been perfectly oiled and used over the years. You can't buy tools like this...and if he's not careful, next time I'm over I may try to slip it into my jacket and make off with it.

Step 9: shape the dough - your choice.

To make the braid, Chaz first rolls out ropes of dough.

Then he lays 3 ropes out and crosses them to begin his braiding.

Finally, after braiding he tucks the ends under the braid.

Step 10: break an egg in to a bowl, mix, and apply an egg wash to the top of the formed bread. Sprinkle with course sugar.

Now Chaz swears that the best sugar for sprinkling on top of Pulla can only be found in Finland - he has to stock up when he goes to Finland. But you can probably settle for a general coarse sugar.

Step 11: Bake at 350degrees for 20-30 minutes.

Step 12: Enjoy.  (for pictures of what the final product looks like, refer to the top) Soooooorrrryyyy! I just couldn't wait to eat it, forget taking pictures of it.

The recipe for Pulla in its entirety:

Pulla or Finnish Sweet Bread

2.5 c milk
1.5 sticks butter
2 packets yeast
2/3 c sugar
2 Tblsp cardamon
2 eggs
6-7 cups flour

Warm milk, with butter in it. Mix eggs, sugar, and yeast. Crush and
add cardamon. Pour in warm milk (warm to touch, not hot). Mix in 1-2
c flour. Let sit for 15-30 min.

Mix in rest of flour slowly mixing well.

Let raise for 25-30 min. Shape and cover with egg wash before baking for shiny look. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake. 350 degrees 20-30 min.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting! I visited Finland twice while I was in Latvia but didn't get to try this bread. :( Because I didn't know about it! Oh, well, on my next visit there! Thanks for sharing! I LOVE cardamom!