Finnish Cardamom Braid (Pulla)

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My mother-in-law gave me these cardamom pods from Chennai, India (Madras), along with a recipe for spicy chai tea. I still want to make that tea, but I decided I would use the cardamom for the yummy streusel braids from my childhood (traditionally called Pulla.) I remember my sister making this for the holidays

Cardamom is in the ginger family, although it doesn’t taste like ginger, it is very pungent and almost spicy.

I highly recommend getting cardamom still in the pod so you will have the freshest flavor. Just smash the pod and pry them open taking the seeds out. I used my coffee grinder to pulverize the seeds. 

Once the seeds are ready it’s time to make the bread! 

I know making yeast bread can be intimidating, but once you make friends with yeast it feels so rewarding. 

Seeing all of those bubbles on the surface for it’s 15 minute rest means the yeast is happy. 

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The streusel is simple and made with maple sugar, butter, and flour. My sister brought this jar of maple sugar with her from Vermont on her vacation there this summer. I would highly recommend doubling or even tripling the streusel for this recipe. It’s just so good!

After the bread has been kneaded, risen, and punched, it’s time to divide, roll and braid. 🙂 Definitely my favorite part!

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They are seriously so good smelling when they come out of the oven. Spread with butter and enjoy! Recipe is below. And as always, comment and let me know if you have any questions or comments! 

Finnish Cardamom Braids (Pulla)

Makes 3 braids

Dough:

2 cups milk

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1 cup maple syrup

4 large eggs, beaten

2 teaspoons freshly ground cardamom

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon yeast

Flour

Streusel Topping:

2 tablespoons butter, softened

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons maple sugar

Glaze:

1 egg

1 teaspoon water

Directions:

In a 2-quart pan, heat milk just until bubbles form around side of pan. Remove from heat. Stir in butter. Set aside to melt butter.

Beat maple syrup, eggs, cardamom, and salt in mixer. Add milk and butter mixture, mix well, add yeast. Add 2-4 cups flour, mix well, cover and let sit for 15 minutes.

Add flour until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Kneed for 10 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place, away from drafts, until doubled in size-about 60 to 70 minutes.

For topping, in a small bowl, with fork or fingers, combine butter, flour, and sugar until crumbly.

Grease 3 baking sheets. Punch down dough. Shape into 9 equal-size balls. Roll each ball into a rope, 14 to 15 inches long. Braid 3 ropes together to form a loaf; place on greased sheet. Repeat to make 2 more loaves. Cover loosely with a clean cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size 30-45 minutes.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Sprinkle topping down the center of braids. Bake loaves 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, prepare glaze in cup, beat water and egg until blended; brush over loaves. Bake 5 minutes longer. Brush again and bake loaves until the internal temperature is 195 – 200 degrees. Cool on wire racks.

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