I’ve had a lifelong obsession with cardamom, and it all began with pulla. Both of my parents grew up eating it thanks to their Finnish heritage, and I was introduced to it when I visited my extended family in Michigan where it is relatively easy to find. The lightly sweetened bread is typically served with coffee, which complements the fragrant spice very well. Eat plain, spread with butter or make it into toast when it starts to get a little stale, it’s a little taste of Finland no matter how far away it may be. Even if you aren’t Finn, I promise you’ll love the taste as much as I do. If you don’t have heavy cream, you can use egg wash instead. I personally like cream because it applies more evenly in my opinion, but either would be fine.
Makes 1 large braided loaf
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup (59 grams) warm water (105°F to 115°F)
- 1 cup (240 grams) warm milk
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs (100 grams)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cardamom
- 4 ½ to 5 cups (585 to 650 grams) all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons (56 grams) melted unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- Demerara, pearl or other coarse sugar for sprinkling
- In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside to bloom while you combine the rest of the ingredients.
- In a bowl fitted for an electric mixer, combine the milk, sugar, eggs, salt and cardamom with just enough flour to form a batter, about 2 cups. Mix with a wooden spoon to combine.
- Attach the bowl with a dough hook, add an additional 2 cups of flour and the melted butter and mix on low until combined. Increase the speed to knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Add the additional half to full cup of flour if the dough is sticky. It should pull away from the sides of the bowl when ready.
- Turn out of the bowl, knead to form a ball and place in a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel, place in a warm spot and let double in bulk, about 60 to 90 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- When risen, punch the dough down and divide into three pieces. Roll each piece into a rope approximately 16 inches long and braid into a loaf, tucking in the ends.
- Place the braided loaf on the sheet pan, cover with a towel or greased plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled, about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Brush the loaf evenly with heavy cream and then sprinkle the top with coarse sugar. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 190˚F.
- Let bread cool until room temperature on a wire rack before serving. Bread is best served the same day but can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.