Finnish Pulla

December 18th, 2012 by Erin Gennow
Finnish Pulla

Finnish Pulla

TWD – Tuesdays with Dorie

Finnish Pulla

A sweet, braided bread has been on my holiday baking list for years, but I never get around to making one. The Tuesdays with Dorie baking group is an excellent motivator for finally making braided bread for the holidays. Braided breads just look so festive!

This Finnish pulla, which is a bit similar to brioche bread, is perfect to have around for guests. It’s great for breakfast, or a snack, with jam. Of course, it’s perfect with coffee or tea too.  When it became a few days old, we even toasted it and used it for egg, cheese, and bacon sandwiches.  It’s nice that the pulla is not too rich in butter or sugar — it’s just slightly sweet.

The Finnish pulla came out light, fluffy, and slightly buttery, with a gently stretching, chewy crumb. The cardamom adds a nice unique flavor, which I love, and a delicious scent while baking.

Finnish Pulla Close Up

Finnish Pulla Close Up

If I have the time, I do enjoy kneading breads by hand, at least for part of the kneading.  For this recipe, I did knead by hand.  I like the process, and the feel of the dough going from wet, to soft and spongy, to smooth and springy.

Total Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Rest Time: About 1 hour and 40 minutes

Baking Time: 20 – 25 minutes

Makes: 1 Large Braided Wreath or Braided Loaf for 10-14 Servings


1 cup milk

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

¼ cup warm water (no hotter than 110 degrees Fahrenheit)

½ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon crushed cardamom seeds (from 7 to 12 pods, depending on the size)

1 teaspoon salt (I like using fine sea salt)

2 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten

4 ½ to 5 cups (22.5 oz. to 25 oz. by weight) all purpose flour

1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, melted

Topping Ingredients

1 large egg + 1 tablespoon milk, for glaze

Sliced almonds

Pearl sugar (I used extremely coarse Hawaiian sugar and it worked well)


1-2 small saucepots

1-2 large bowls

Measuring cups and spoons


Wooden Spoon

Mortar and Pestle or Coffee Grinder

Large Baking Sheet or Pizza Pan

Parchment Paper

Pastry Brush

Ruler and Kitchen Scale are helpful

Cooling Rack


Mise en Place for Finnish Pulla

Mise en Place for Finnish Pulla

First, take your cardamom pods and break them open to release the cardamom seeds.  This will take any where from 7 pods to over 12.  I had to use 12 pods to get 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds.  Grind the 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder.

Cardamom Seeds and Pods

Cardamom Seeds and Pods

Crushing Cardamom Seeds

Crushing Cardamom Seeds

Place a small saucepot over medium heat and add the 1 cup milk.  Scald the milk, so small bubbles are just visible around the edge.  Remove the pot from the heat and cool the milk to around 110 degrees Fahrenheit.  Make sure it is no hotter than 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

Scalded Milk

Scalded Milk

While the milk is scalding heat the 1 stick (4 oz.) butter in another small saucepot until just melted.  Set the melted butter aside.  Keep an eye on the milk and the butter.  You don’t want them to burn.

In a large bowl, add ¼ cup warm water (around 110 degrees Fahrenheit) and whisk in the 1 tablespoon active dry yeast.  Set the yeast/water mixture aside for at least 5 minutes.  It will become creamy.

Yeast Before Dissolving

Yeast Before Dissolving

Creamy Yeast

Creamy Yeast

Once the water/yeast mixture is creamy, whisk in the 1 cup scalded and slightly cooled milk, ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds, 1 teaspoon salt, and the 2 beaten eggs.  Whisk until fully combined.

Wet Ingredients

Wet Ingredients

Wet Ingredients Mixed

Wet Ingredients Mixed

Now, using a wooden spoon, add 2 cups (10 oz.) all purpose flour to the bowl.  Beat the mixture until smooth.  Vigorously stir in the 1 stick (4 oz.) melted butter.  Once the butter is incorporated, add in the additional flour, a ½ cup at a time, until the dough is fairly stiff.  Stop adding flour before the dough becomes dry.  I needed about 4 ½ cups.

Two Cups Flour Added

Two Cups Flour Added

Adding Melted Butter

Adding Melted Butter

If you wish, you can also use a stand mixer with a dough hook to mix the dough.  Follow the directions in the same order.

Once you have your dough mixed, but not dry, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for about 15 minutes.

Dough Resting

Dough Resting

Turn the dough onto a floured work surface.  Knead the dough until smooth and shiny, about 10 minutes.  Add a bit of additional flour if needed.  This is where I added my last ½ cup of flour or so.

You can also knead the dough in the mixer with the dough hook at medium speed.  It may only take about 8 minutes or so, depending on your machine.

Shape your dough into a ball and lightly grease a large bowl.  Turn the ball of dough in the bowl to lightly coat in the grease.  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place.  Let the dough rise until it is double in size.  This will take at least 45 minutes, but could take over an hour.

Dough Rising

Dough Rising

Cover your baking sheet with parchment paper.

Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out of the bowl onto a cool (to cold) lightly oiled surface.  Marble is great if you have it.  You can also cool your surface down by filling a rimmed, metal baking sheet with ice and running it over your work surface.  I have a tile surface with grout, so I put 2 of my largest cookie sheets together to form a large, cool surface.

Knead the dough briefly to release the air.  Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces.  I weigh the pieces to ensure they are equal, or close to it.

Dividing Dough

Dividing Dough

Roll each of the three pieces into a log about 36 inches in length.  I took turns rolling each piece into a log.  As one got too springy, I would move to the next.  I continued in this manner until all 3 logs were 36 inches long.

3 Rolled Logs

3 Rolled Logs

Now, line the logs up next to each other and pinch them together at the top.  Braid the 3 pieces into a log braid.  Carefully move this braid to the parchment lined baking sheet, forming it into a circle onto the sheet.  Cut an inch or two of dough off each end and fuse the circle together.  Knead the cut bits together and shape into another small log.  Form into a bow and place the bow over the seam of the wreath.

Braiding Dough

Braiding Dough

Braided Dough

Braided Dough

Braided Wreath with Bow

Braided Wreath with Bow



Alternatively, you can make a long braided loaf (or 2 braided shorter loaves).

Loosely cover your bread with a towel and let rest and rise at room temperature for about 45 minutes.  It will get quite puffy.  Don’t let it double in size.

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Brush the egg glaze all over the shaped dough.  Sprinkle the dough all over with sliced almonds and pearl sugar.

Glazed with Egg Wash and Topped with Sugar and Almonds

Glazed with Egg Wash and Topped with Sugar and Almonds

Bake the loaf for 20 to 25 minutes.  The top will be just golden, and the bottom of the loaf will be very light.  Be careful not to over bake the bread.

Transfer the baked loaf to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature before cutting into the bread.

Baked Pulla Wreath

Baked Pulla Wreath

Bow on Finnish Pulla

Bow on Finnish Pulla

To store, cover the loaf in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature.  Or, wrap tightly, so the bread is air tight and freeze for up to a month.  Thaw the bread at room temperature.

Check out the book Baking with Julia, by Dorie Greenspan, for other awesome recipes.

Go to Tuesdays with Dorie to see fellow bloggers’ reviews and experiences.


Two years ago on The Daily Morsel


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35 Responses to “Finnish Pulla”

  1. […] week’s host is: Erin. You can find everyone’s links here: Finnish Pulla Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to […]

  2. ovenchaos says:

    The pulla looks absolutely gorgeous! Now I know how the ribbon was supposed to look like :)This is a great pulla making tutorial!

  3. Teresa says:

    Great process photos! I loved your shot of the long ropes – I had to roll mine out in a sort of Z-shape, because I don’t have much counter space. Thanks so much for hosting this week!

  4. You turned out a fantastic Pulla Erin, and the pics are perfect, very useful! Thanks for hosting today!

  5. […] Pulla was hosted by Erin of The Daily Morsel for Tuesdays With Dorie. This Finnish Pulla is being submitted to Yeastspotting. /* […]

  6. […] when rolling out the 36 inch ropes of dough! You can see and read more about this recipe over at The Daily Morsel. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Categories: Baking | Leave […]

  7. Miette says:

    Great photos. Your process photos are so detailed-you should host a cooking show (maybe you already do) Your bread looks delicious. It was quite the treat to make. Thanks for hosting.

  8. Dawn says:

    Beautiful, Erin! Thanks for hosting!

  9. cathleen says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! Your bow is perfect!!! Mine is slighty lame looking – ha ha. Beautiful job hosting – Happy holidays!

  10. Janet says:

    Great description and photos, Erin! I’m still working on mine so I really appreciate your detail photos. Your resulting bread turned out beautifully. Thanks for hosting!

  11. […] trying new recipes. Like a fun Finnish Christmas wreathe bread! The full recipe can be found at The Daily Morsel by […]

  12. Deanna says:

    Wow…Wonderful tutorial and fabulous end product. it has inspired me “to try” and make this bread! Mahalo and Aloha!

  13. […] baked recipe today from us, but if you are so inclined, please stop by Erin’s beautiful site The Daily Morsel, who is the host for this recipe and has done a truly beautiful job with the regular gluten version […]

  14. Mel says:

    What a good post! Well done!
    Your Finnish Pulla looks wonderful!
    Thanks for hosting
    Happy Holidays.

  15. Such a lovely Pulla! Yours came out just wonderfully! Thanks for hosting!

  16. […] try this wonderful bread you can find the recipe on page 106 and 107 of Baking with Julia.  Erin of The Daily Morsel was the host for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie assignment and she posted the complete […]

  17. Jenn Ragland says:

    Gorgeous bread! And such great pics…

  18. SandraM says:

    Wow! That is some awesome braiding! Your bread looks beautiful. And I absolutely loved the pictures you included in your blog. It read and looked like a good cookbook should. (or at least how I think cookbooks should read and look) I really liked that you took pictures through each step.
    I did love the cardamom and was glad when I found the pods in a bulk food store. (so much cheaper in pod form) And what an incredible flavour and aroma the cardamom delivers.
    Happy holidays!

  19. What a fabulous post! You really made our group look good and I hope a lot of people visit to get this recipe here. Merry Christmas!

  20. […] 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. […]

  21. […] again for the holidays!  For the full recipe and beautiful pictures and directions, please visit, our host, Erin’s […]

  22. spike says:

    Beautiful! I love kneading by hand too

  23. […] it myself. If you want to give it a try for your Christmas breakfast, check out Erin’s blog The Daily Morsel for the recipe. Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this. Posted in: Baking | Tagged: […]

  24. Sally says:

    This lis one I would like to try! But I have a question about the cardamom. The cardamom I have looks different – it’s green and the seeds look smaller. Was yours different? I wonder if it willtastethe same?

  25. […] Erin of The Daily Morsel for hosting this recipe.  As always, the full recipe can be found at her blog.  Links for each participating baker’s efforts can be found […]

  26. Paul says:

    Your pulla and bow turned out really well. Laying down multiple cookie sheets is a great tip. And a very good set of photos, I particularly like the sublte red-shift on the left side of the countertop shots. Was this intentional, or did you just happen to be wearing a lot of red ?

  27. Peggy says:

    Your pulla looks beautiful. I like the way you illustrated the recipe with your photos.

  28. […] recipe is hosted by Erin of the Daily Morsel.  To see the other food bloggers participating in this Tuesday with Dorie challenge, click here. […]

  29. […] to try for yourself?  Go see Erin over at The Daily Morsel  for the full […]

  30. […] blogger: Erin of The Daily Morsel Stop by Erin’s blog to see her fabulous photos of the bread baking process. Also, you can see the […]

  31. Erin, you did an excellent job on your post…

    I finally made it too…so delish!


  32. Erin Gennow says:

    I do use a light when I photograph, so often the direction is fairly consistent. My kitchen has dark wood cabinets, so some red could have come from them. Finally I optimize my photos to try and help keep them consistent, at least within a post.

  33. […] the Finnish Pulla recipe here. Read other Tuesday with Dorie bloggers here. Next up is a Pizza with Onion Confit and then a […]

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