November 23, 2011

Pulla

November 23, 2011
As an introduction to Finnish language, I will teach you an important word that is easy to pronounce. In case you ever get stuck here and are forced to communicate with the natives in the matters of food, it might save you from being served some of the unflattering dishes known as the local cuisine. That is, of course, if turnips and fermented barley malts are not on the top of your diet. I don’t mean to be rude about Finnish cooking tradition, but it is fair to say it is austere and unexcited. When I brought my Polish husband to experience white Christmas in the land of Santa Claus for the first time, he wondered why all the delicatessen were made of animal feed. The only dish he could relate to was pulla. And he is not a picky eater!

Pulla is sweet bread. Many Finns enjoy it plain, but it is best when baked with cinnamon, sugar and butter. The fragrance in the house is most comforting when pulla is in the oven. It always reminds me of my childhood and lovely grandmother. She was a strong lady with a staunch sense of style. She used to bake pulla every Saturday. After eating plenty when warm and soft, she took me and my brother to sit on her lap on a rocking chair. We all fell asleep for a short while.

Sweet bread can be braided or formed in several ways. It can also be combined with berries,  jam or cream-cheese. During the Christmas saffron is added to the dough. Raisins and nuts are also used.
Pulla1Pulla2Pulla3Pulla4Pulla9Pulla10Pulla5Pulla6Pulla7Pulla8
Thank you.

46 comments:

  1. Beautiful! Flashing! Mouthwatering! Ahh! And also it looks and sure is delicate. Cheers Susanne

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  2. just like the Swedish kanelbullar! Yum!

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  3. Thanks!

    Frederike, it is the same. Even the Finnish word pulla is adapted from Swedish. That is why it is not one kilometer long and filled with consonants :-)!

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  4. Excellent story, really enjoyed the stepby step tutorial :)

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  5. Lovelly presentation but a little confusing for myself. Could you explain more how you shape it.
    Rolling part is simple, In the 3-th image you just cut it diagonal? Do you turn (spin) it also before shapeing the circle? Why the shape on the 4th photo is so different than on the 5th? (Is it two different technic of shapeing you presend?). I'm so questioninig because I really want to try it. Looked already on internet for some video tutorial. But non of the Pulla's looks like your one (most of them look like challach shape). Could you explain it more, pleasssssssse.

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  6. Cintamani, you are right. It's a little confusing :-). I omitted one step after the first pair of pictures, because I couldn't find a suitable companion for the image I had :-).

    I'll try to explain.

    Once you have the log, you cut it half lenghtwise in the middle.You can leave it attached in the end and start twisting the two parts (halves) around each others.You can try to keep the cut side on the top all the time, because it looks nicer. Then you close it into a circle and bake it.

    The wreath in the 5th pictures is braided differently. It has nothing to do with the previous ones. It's more difficult to explain. I wrote it in the recipe. If you click it, it will open as a separate document.

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  7. Sorry, I did not look into a document attached(though it was only recipie there) where you explain everything. It's all clear now. I can go to sleep and dream about cinnamon pullas. They are already my favorites.

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  8. Heh, heh...ok. I changed the order of the pictures, to make it more confusing.... :-) Sleep well ♥

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  9. Magnificent! I love Scandinavian baked goods.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  10. OH MY GOODNESS.

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  11. SOOO beautiful!!! It looks like a Christmas wreath! Your photos are just breathtaking!

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  12. I once made a sweet cardamom pulla bread and absolutely loved it but its been a while I gave it a go again. This is inspiring.

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  13. hi Lakshmi... Love the pics and the bread looks divine... I did have a query though about the yeast... please feel free to ignore my question if it seems too personal. From your previous blog entries I understand that you do not use garlic, onion and non-veg. Does yeast not fall in that category? Just curious.

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  14. Lovely pictures!Great recipe! Truly an amazing post! I would love to make this pulla sometime. I breezed through the comments too and I think the instructions are clearer now. Thanks for the recipe!

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  15. Mmm so many delicious variations. I'll have to give it a go.

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  16. your write up and the pictures are so inspiring,Laksmi! I'm going to charter into unknown territory,Wish me luck !

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  17. It looks awesome! I'm not very accustomed to Finnish food, although I live just nextdoor, Sweden! (the name "pulla", is a pretty "dirty" word in Swedish though").

    I'm intrigued by the shape of the loaf and am happy for the explanation in the comments. It seems very similar to Swedish sweet yeasted bread, but I've never seen it shaped like that.

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  18. Dear Anu, thanks for asking about the yeast. Yes, it belongs to the same category of food like onions, garlic, mushrooms, eggs, fish and meat. Yeast is considered tamasic, in the mode of ignorance.

    There are three modes of nature that permeate everything and influence us physically, mentally, intellectually and spiritually. Out of them, the mode of goodness (sattva) is the best, because it promotes and maintains higher values.

    Food in the mode of goodness is life-prolonging, purifying and strength-giving. It increases health, happiness and satisfaction. It is sweet, juicy, fatty and palatable.

    In the introduction I've written that we consider food as prashad, mercy. It means that before we eat, we cook everything with love and devotion, and offer it to the Lord through a prayer and meditation. It transforms our consciousness beyond the modes of nature, to the transcendental platform (vishuddha-sattva). It is a natural state of being for the spirit soul that we are.

    Food in the mode of ignorance is not offerable. We rarely use yeast for the reason. However, whenever we do, we ask the Lord kindly to the accept our offering, although it may not be of the highest quality. We come from a culture that consists of ignorance and passion (rajas). Sweet bread baked with yeast is a product of that tradition. To use yeast is a trace of our fallen condition.

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  19. Fanny, that's funny -- I didn't have "that" verb in mind when I said the word pulla is adabted from Swedish :-).More likely it comes from bulle!

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  20. Quite an impressive bread...love the way you braid it!

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  21. absolutely love the aesthetics of your site, last photo and recipe card. so pretty :)

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  22. Am so inspired by your blog, so so gad i found it and can't wait to try and make this.
    You have a real talent for beautiful blogging
    x

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  23. Beautiful and so enchanting. Of all the Nordic countries, I liked Swedish food the best. Having said that, I am completely falling for this pulla.

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  24. I have never made or tried the pulla bread.. they are absolutely gorgeous!!!

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  25. I just gained 2 pounds just by looking at that delicious thing.

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  26. So, so beautiful. Reading your blog is better than any SPA. So relaxing.

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  27. I'd love to have this for breakfast right now! It looks sooooo delicious!

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  28. Gorgeous! So glad I found your blog - its beautiful and lovely recipes too :) Newest subscriber xx

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  30. I can't pick a favorite photo. They're all breathtaking. The pulla looks amazing! I've had it a few times before but I'm sure yours is way better. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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  31. This looks fantastic, thank you for the recipe!

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  32. I love the design/presentation of your recipes. Very Creative!

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  33. I love this kind of cakes! My favorite so far was the chocolate filling, but I really love your idea of using hazelnut powder as one of the ingredients. I will certainly add it next time. I hope one day my braided cakes look as beautiful as yours :-)

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  34. Looks amazing (as do simply all of your recipes), but quick question... Should the butter be melted when making the dough?
    Thanks,

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  35. Unknown - the butter should be room temperature. Good luck in baking!

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  36. I live in Australia and am in the process of making this for morning tea for my large family tomorrow! Thank you for this recipe!!

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    1. Great! And, good luck. The sweet bread is best freshly baked.

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  37. Gorgeous pictures of our pulla! I have never seen anyone bake them like this in Finland. I definitely got some new ideas. About Finnish Christmas cuisine: if you take the traditional route, it probably won't be very impressive...but it is t r a d i t i o n a l, so you have to make the swede casserole and the potato casserole and the rosolli salad with beets... You get the idea!
    On the other hand, I love Finnish dark rye bread with lax (raw, salted salmon) and have you made Karelian Pies yet? Anyway, I think we Finns have the best baked goodies in the world! :)
    Hanna

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    1. Hei Hanna, thanks for the comment. I politely beg to disagree about Finnish cuisine :-). It is traditional, like any other cuisine, but it is one dimensional compared with many other traditions. We have some wonderful fresh produce, like forest berries. But, the fact that the food is generally un-spiced and bland is unexciting. Turnips, carrots and potatoes are, no matter from which point of view we look at them, simple root vegetables. People’s inability to demand high quality import when it comes to fruits and vegetables on today‘s market is, to me, a direct indication of disinterest and ignorance about food. I have never seen anywhere in the world such a low quality produce for sale on such a high price!

      I once made Karjalan piirakat in Romania, which many would not, perhaps, rate as the mecca of food. They were nicknamed as “Lakshmi’s shoes”. My friends couldn’t understand why someone would voluntarily eat so unimpressive dish that looked and tasted like shoe bottoms! For Finns, because that‘s what they grew up with, it’s a delicatessen. Taste is subjective.

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  38. hi! looks wonderful. What do you mean by
    13 - 15 dl (about 1 1/5 litre) flour ?
    I have never met anyone measuring flour in dl and I am confused, what do you mean,is it liquid? How much is it in grams?
    Thanks!
    Hanna

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    1. Yes, Hania, 13-15 dl = 1300-1500 ml = 1,3 - 1,5 litres. It equals 5.2 - 6 (US) Cups. I would have to measure the weight in grams. Please let me know if you need the number.

      The amount of flour is flexible, because it depends on the quality of all the ingredients. The dough should be soft but not sticky.

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  39. This looks amazing. Thanks for the recipe!

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  40. Hi,
    My husband is Finnish American and we've been to Finland a few times, we have named our child and dog with Finnish names :). My question, if you still check these comments, is regarding eggs in Pulla recipes. My grandmother on my husband's side makes pulla with eggs and a recipe from the Finnfest celebration in the states also uses eggs and much less yeast. Is the additional yeast in your recipe more traditional? I actually don't think I was ever offered pulla in Finland so I'm not sure what the consistency should be.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for asking, Starkeywife. I have never made pulla with eggs but it is a common ingredient. Many people omit them because of food allergies or other health and moral reasons. I’m not sure how the eggs affect the amount of yeast. I would think that the eggs contribute to the structure of dough, and perhaps taste, whereas the yeast acts as a rising agent. The amount of yeast is relative to its powder to expand the dough. Even if you used 10 or 15g of fresh yeast instead of 25 g (which is already less than most recipes call for) the dough would still rise. However, it would take a longer period of time. I haven’t used dry yeast, because it has some additional ingredients unsuitable for vegetarians, but assume you would need less of it.

      Traditionally, pulla is made with milk, too. I prefer water because it gives a nice edge to it. Milk makes perhaps softer, richer dough.

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