This post is sponsored by l.c. finns extracts. Pulla is a Finnish dessert or sweet bread best enjoyed with a good cup of coffee.
Since moving to South Dakota, I’ve somewhat expanded my baking horizons, especially when it comes to holiday treats. My mother-in-law has taught me a couple Norwegian-American treats, which I might try making again this year. I’ve asked her to teach me how to make Lefse. I’m also trying my hand at some Finnish baking, namely Pulla.
Though there’s no Finnish ancestry on Jay’s side of the family (they’re all pretty solidly Norwegian, with some English thrown in for good measure), I have more than a passing interest in Finnish culture, as it’s rather different than Swedish, Danish or Norwegian. As a tween, I also had a Finnish pen-pal, with whom I lost, then regained contact, thanks to the social network of Facebook. In fact, she helped me a bit with this recipe! Someday, I’m going to make it back to England, and I hope to meet up with her, assuming she’s still living there.
l.c. finns makes small-batch extracts in the Twin Cities, which to me equals a local product (I consider anything to be local if it comes from somewhere that I can drive to in eight hours or less; Minneapolis-St. Paul is just over four hours away). For those of us in Brookings, The Carrot Seed Kitchen Co. carries them, which is where I first discovered them. The extracts can be substituted on a 1:1 ratio or 1/2:1, depending on how intense you like your flavor.
I wanted a recipe that would incorporate both the Coffee and Cardamom extracts I received, and thought Pulla would work. Sometimes part of the egg wash includes coffee. After consulting with my former pen-pal, I opted to make both a braided version, as well as buns.
Which of course, I forgot to include in the photos! She did tell me that either is acceptable, though I think the braid would make a nice holiday gift. Of course, the buns would as well. If you don’t need all of it, it apparently freezes rather well, though I haven’t tried that myself. Just reheat before serving.
pearl sugar or crushed Belgian waffle sugar, optional
Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it registers 115 degrees F on a thermometer. Add to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, along with the sugar, yeast, and cardamom extract. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, so that the yeast blooms and becomes foamy.
Add in the eggs and mix to combine. Add the salt and flour, and mix until a dough forms. Switch to the dough hook, and knead on medium speed for 2 minutes. Drop to low speed, and add the butter one piece at a time, allowing it to fully incorporate before adding the next piece. Once all the butter has been added, knead for an additional 4 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 60 minutes, or until doubled in size. Punch the dough down, recover, and allow to rise 30 minutes more.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the dough on a work surface, and divide in half. Set aside one half, and cover with a tea towel. Divide the first half into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 16-inch rope. To braid, place the 3 pieces side by side. Pinch the ends farthest away from you together. Bring the left rope up and across the middle rope, and lay it down next to the right rope. Bring the right rope up and over what is now the middle rope, and lay it down next to the inside of what is now the left rope. Continue in this fashion until you reach the end. Tuck the ends underneath the braid and transfer to one of the baking sheets.
If making buns, divide the remaining dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll into balls, and place on the second baking sheet. Cover both the braid and the buns with tea towels and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, egg yolk, and coffee extract. Brush over the top of the buns and braid, and sprinkle with the sugar, if using. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving with coffee.