Experiments in Bread Baking – Pulla (Finnish Cardamom Bread)

Food and Drink

My husband gave me the amazing Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. I’ve already made three batches of dough using the recipe. He was inspired to get the book for me after I made a few batches of Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread (also found in How to Cook Everything).

It doesn’t take much for me to want to play with a recipe. It was dumb luck that my efforts turned out tasty, let alone, edible to others. I knew I really wanted to make pulla, AKA cardamom bread. I knew that challah shared a lot of commonality with pulla, so I started with the challah recipe in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Below is how I did it.

unbakedpullaIngredients:

1 3/4 cups lukewarm milk
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp salt Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
4 large eggs lightly beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water)
Large crystal sugar (optional)

Steps:

1. Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, sugar, cardamom, melted butter and milk in a 5 quart sealable container, or large bowl that can be easily covered (not air tight).

2. Mix in flour using a wooden spoon, do not knead! You can use a heavy duty stand mixer with a dough hook, but with some patience and a spoon, I did just fine.

3. Cover (do not seal) and let it rest for 2 hours, letting it rise and collapse (or at least flatten on top.)

4. You can use immediately, though some may recommend refrigerating and using cold. You can refrigerate the dough and use within the next 5 days, or freeze in 1 lb portions for up to 4 weeks. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before using and allow the usual rest and rise time.

5. The day of baking, butter or grease a cookie sheet, or line with parchment paper or silicone mat. Dust the surface of the dough, reach in and cut off a 1 lb (grapefruit sized) piece. Dust with flour and shape into a ball. Cut the ball into thirds, and start braiding from the center to each of the ends, and tuck the ends under the loaf.

6. You can bake at least two one lb loves on a cookie sheet, which is what I did. Let the bread rest for 40 minutes if you’re using fresh dough, or 1 hour and 20 minutes if you’re using refrigerated dough.pulla

7. Preheat the oven to 350°F twenty minutes before the end of the rising time. For instance, I set a timer for 20 minutes when I start the dough resting with fresh dough. Brush the loaf with an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar as desired. I do not prefer sugar, so I didn’t use any on my loaves.

8. Bake the loaves in the center of the oven for about 25 minutes. The loaves should be golden brown, and should have resistance when pressed in the center. The crust should be smooth and shiny.

9. Wait until they’re cool to slice, though admittedly, it’s hard to not dive right in with a knife.