Finnish Pulla (Braided Cardamom Bread)
I have been wanting to tackle yeasted Christmas breads for a while so here is my first attempt. I would also like to make a Stollen with candied fruit and a traditional Challah bread. It is a little time consuming so we'll see how it goes. For this bread I would give yourself 3 1/2 hours and that includes the baking and cooling time.
Finnish Pulla is very similar to Challah, only fragrant with the spice cardamom. This recipe is adapted from Saveur Magazine. It's spiced with cardamom and sprinkled with sugar & almonds. I added raisins to the dough but that is optional. In Finland it's traditionally eaten with coffee or tea; hot chocolate would be good also and I'm thinking french toast would be fabulous.
MAKES 2 LOAVES
1 13/ cups whole milk, heated to 115 degrees
2/3 cup sugar
4 teaspoons ground cardamom (set 1 tsp. aside for glaze)
2 - 1/4 oz. packages active dry yeast
3 eggs, lightly beaten
6 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt (I didn't have this so I used regular salt)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 in. cubes, at room temperature
1 cup raisins (optional)
GLAZE BEFORE BAKING
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon cardamom (was reserved)
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, combine milk, sugar, 3 teaspoons cardamom, and yeast; stir together and let sit until foamy, 10 minutes. Add eggs; mix to combine. Add flour and salt; mix until a dough forms. Replace paddle with hook attachment; knead dough on medium speed for 2 minutes. While kneading, slowly add butter in batches, mixing until incorporated before adding next batch, should take a couple of minutes. Continue kneading for 2 minutes after butter is all incorporated if your machine allows and it's not to stiff. Add raisins and knead, if you are using them. Transfer dough to a greased with butter bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let sit until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch down dough; cover again with plastic wrap and let sit until fully risen, 30 minutes.
2. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Transfer dough to a clean work surface and divide into 2 equal pieces. Set 1 piece aside and divide other piece into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion between your palms and work surface to create a 16" rope. Set ropes on baking pan lined with parchment paper. Braid ropes together to form a loaf. Repeat with second dough piece. Cover loaves with plastic wrap and let sit until slightly puffed up, about 20 minutes.
3. Whisk together remaining 1 teaspoon cardamom, cream, and egg yolk in a bowl; brush over loaves. Sprinkle with almonds and then sugar ; bake, one loaf at a time, until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a rack; let cool at least 10 minutes before slicing.