My tutor at College, Eeva John, has just left to begin a new role with the Church of England. She is from Finland originally and so for her farewell party tomorrow I have made Pulla which is a traditional Finnish sweetbread, similar to Brioche but with main difference being the addition of cardamom which adds a beautiful extra dimension to the bread. The recipe I have used is adapted from one here, which is an adaptation from this book so it’s a few steps away from a truly traditional recipe but last time I made it Eeva seemed to think it tasted pretty authentic!
Ingredients (makes 2 loaves)
550g strong white flour
8g dried yeast (or 15g fresh yeast)
100g caster sugar
crushed seeds of 8 cardamom pods
240ml warm milk
2 eggs (room temperature)
60g unsalted butter
+ egg/milk wash
How to make it (warning – this could take up to four hours so don’t start too late!)
1) Sieve the flour into a large bowl and add the yeast, salt, sugar and cardamom, mix well.
2) Warm the milk in a saucepan and add the butter, stir gently until the butter melts.
3) Add the milk/butter and the eggs to the dry ingredients and mix well, you should end up with quite a sticky dough.
4) Knead the dough for a good 15 minutes until the texture changes and it becomes smooth and less sticky. For a good tutorial from Richard Bertinet on kneading wet dough see this video from the Guardian. Your best friend when it comes to wet dough is a dough scraper which you can get for next to nothing from Amazon and will make a world of difference! Try not to add flour, even if it seems too sticky – remember the golden rule in baking: wetter is better!
5) Once the dough is well kneaded form it into a ball and place it back into the bowl, cover, I use an inverted (and clean!) bin bag, and leave to rise for an hour or so until it has grown significantly.
6) Once it has risen gently turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and press it down with your fingertips to deflate it.
7) Divide the dough into 2 pieces and then divide each piece into 4 further pieces (you need 4 pieces per loaf).
8) Roll each piece into a long sausage, squeezing out any air bubbles the billow up as you go. The aim is to get the sausages as long as they will go but they should all be roughly the same length so it is advisable to roll the smallest piece of dough first.
9) Now we come to the (slightly) more complicated part! (this technique is taken from here) lay the strands out with two going each way to form a sort of cross. The strands should alternate with one going over/under and the other going under/over (see picture)
10) Now for each pair of strands tuck the one that comes out over the top underneath the one that comes out underneath (again see picture for clearer explanation!).
11) Again you have a sort of cross, repeat step 10 with each pair of strands.
12) Keep repeating step 10 until all the strands have been used up and the dough is relatively circular.
13) Gather the edges up into the middle to form a sort of ball, squeeze the ends of the strands together in the middle then flip the ball over and place on a sheet of baking paper (I thoroughly recommend non-stick baking sheets for this).
14) Cover with an upturned mixing bowl and leave to rise for about an hour.
15) Brush lightly with an egg and milk wash then bake in an oven at 180°C for approximately 40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
16) Eat and enjoy!