Finnish Pulla

This is a traditional Finnish holiday bread with nice flavor or cardamom.  If you really want to make this bread worthwhile, instead of using the ground cardamom grind the cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle. 
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Some people may not like the cardamom scent or the taste, but I love cardamom.  By grinding the seeds yourself it releases such nice aroma (this smell is very therapeutic to me).  

I used the recipe from “all recipes” since the recipe was rated pretty high. I tweaked a little towards the end when it came to shaping the bread.   I also have a similar recipe from my husband’s paternal grandmother (who was a Finnish).  I wanted to try a different recipe and then try out the family recipe. 

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  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 9 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten

 Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Let cool until lukewarm.Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Stir in the lukewarm milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, 4 eggs, and enough flour to make a batter (approximately 2 cups).

 Beat until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add about 3 cups of the flour and beat well; the dough should be smooth and glossy in appearance. Add the melted butter or margarine, and stir well. Beat again until the dough looks glossy.

Stir in the remaining flour until the dough is stiff.Turn out of bowl onto a floured surface, cover with an inverted mixing bowl, and let rest for 15 minutes. Knead the dough until smooth and satiny. Place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, and turn the dough to grease the top. Cover with a clean dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch down, and let rise again until almost doubled.

Turn out again on to a floured surface, and divide into 3 parts. I made 2 round braided loaves, and 1-1/2 dozen buns. For the braided rounded loaves I used a very simple technique (there are other more complicated braiding technique which I will not be doing).  First, take the 1 part of dough (from the 3 parts you divided), and divided that into 5 parts.  Make equal length rope (not too thick nor thin) and make a circle and seal the end. 

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Make another circle and loop with the first circle.  Keep on going until all 5 circles are looped together.  Transfer the braids onto a cookie sheet and let it rise/rest for 20 minutes. IMG_4936
For the little buns, take about a handful of dough and knead gently to form a bun.  Line them all on a cookie sheet.  Make indentations in the center.  I decided to mix dried currants, a little butter and few teaspoons of sugar and fill the indentations with currant mixture.  
Brush each loaf and buns with egg wash.Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes for the loaves, and about 10 minutes for the buns (or until golden brown).   Check occasionally because the bottom burns easily.

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    My opinion:  Wonderful taste and aroma!!!  Yes, baking your own bread manually is a time consuming and had labor, but oh so worth it.   This bread is soft (but not tender), has a very nice bite to it.  It’s not sweet, but if you want to make this into a sweeter bread, when you’re shaping the bread, you can roll out the dough into a rectangle, brush with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.  Roll the rectangle tight (but not too tight) and cut into 1 inch sections then bake. 

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