Finnish Pulla

Posted on: July 19th, 2009 by admin 7 Comments

The Most Delicious Bread in the World!


Pulla is a Finnish dessert bread flavoured lightly with crushed cardamom. Peas went to a great school where baking, gardening, sewing, painting, etc, were considered as important for youngsters to learn as reading and writing. This recipe is from the wonderful kindergarten teacher, Riitta, who taught us to make this lovely bread from her homeland many years ago- it is seriously delicious.

  • 1 c milk
  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1/4 c warm water (about 40ºC/110ºF)
  • 1/2 c caster sugar
  • 1 tsp crushed cardamom seeds (about 7 pods) (or ground cardamom)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten, at room temp
  • 4-1/2 to 5 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 lg. egg beaten with 1 tbs milk, for glaze

Green cardamom (there’s black too) is one of the most expensive spices by weight, third after saffron and vanilla, when you taste it you know why.

Heat the milk in a saucepan until small bubbles are visible around the rim of the pan. Remove from head and let cool to about 37ºC (100ºF).

In a large bowl, whisk yeast and a pinch of sugar into the warm water and let sit for about 5 minutes or until yeast is dissolved and creamy. Whisk in milk, sugar, cardamom, salt, and eggs.

Add about 2 c flour, beating until smooth, occasionally scraping around the bowl to incorporate all the flour. Add the melted butter, and then keeping count as you go, add flour 1/2 c. at a time until the dough is stiff, but not dry. (My dough took not quite 5 c flour).

To knead the dough, either use a machine on medium speed with a dough hook attachment, until dough is satiny or turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth, about 10 minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a cloth and let rise at room temp until doubled in bulk – about 45 minutes to 1 hour. After dough is done with the first rise, line a baking pan at least 35cm (14 “) long with paper (or a non-stick mat).


To shape the dough, turn it out of the bowl and briefly knead it to deflate it. Divide it into 3 pieces (or 4 if you like) and roll each piece into a rope about 80cm (32 “) long. Braid the ropes pressing the ends together and tucking them under the loaf. Lift the braid onto the parchment.

Cover the braid lightly with a kitchen towel. Let rise at room temp until puffy, but not doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190ºC (375ºF).

Now brush the eggy glaze over the bread and bake on the center rack for about 20 minutes or until golden.

Many European countries have similar sweet breads, Brioche in France, Tsoureki in Greece, the Jewish Challa, but Pulla is really subtle and intricate, I don’t think my memories cloud my judgment too much! But take some time and try it for yourself.


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7 Responses

  1. Litteredhen says:

    What a beautiful job you have done with plaiting the dough! This looks lovely, I’m on it. Although I don’t rate my chances of finding green cardamom in my ‘hood…

  2. case says:

    yummmmmmmmo i want this now please!

  3. admin says:

    Just use normal ground cardamom. I have to too because I have nothing to grind it with. It’s delightful.

  4. louloubell says:

    This is best when you make it with fresh cardamom though….but a real pain, it’s so worth it. Also, when we make it (OOOOOOOLD Finnish family recipe), we double or triple the amount…never too much cardamom.

  5. admin says:

    It’s true cardamom is what makes this bread better than all the other sweet breads, in our opinion anyway!

  6. [...] nom nom.  I am eating Finnish Pulla from the Great Harvest Bread Company.  It looks sorta like [...]

  7. S says:

    I made this last night and it was a real beauty. I made it into a wreath. The rising took longer than expected because it is already very cold in Toronto and even though we have the heat on in the home, it doesn’t make for a great environment to proof bread. So I actually put a heater (small space heater) on in my son’s room, closed the door (my son wasnt in the room, of course) and let the dough proof there for about 90 minutes. It worked! Thanks for teaching me how to make pulla. I am from a mixed background like you, too – Pakistani-Afghan with Persian ancestry – an expat living in Toronto, now we live here permanently. Best, S

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