Finnish Pulla

READY IN: 2hrs 45mins
YIELD: 2 loaves


  • 1
    cup milk
  • 1
    tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 14
    cup warm water (110 degrees F)
  • 12
    cup sugar
  • 1
    teaspoon cardamom seed, crushed (you can use a mortar & pestle or coffee grinder)
  • 1
    teaspoon salt
  • 2
    large eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature
  • 4 12 - 5
  • 12
    cup unsalted butter, melted
  • Glaze and Topping Ingredients
  • 1
    large egg, beaten
  • 1
    tablespoon milk
  • 2
    tablespoons sliced almonds, for topping (optional)
  • 2
    tablespoons coarse sugar, for topping (optional, can use Turbinado sugar)


  • Scald the milk in a small saucepan (heat until a ring of small bubbles is visible around the sides of the pan). Remove from heat and let cool.
  • In a large bowl, whisk yeast into the warm water and set aside for 5 minutes.
  • Whisk the milk, sugar, cardamom, salt, and eggs into the yeast mixture.
  • Add 2 cups of the flour and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.
  • Beat in the butter and as much additional flour, 1/2 cup at a time, as you can until the dough is stiff but not dry.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
  • Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and satiny, about 10 minutes.
  • Shape the dough into a ball, place into a lightly greased bowl, turn it over in the bowl to grease the top, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature 45-60 minutes until doubled in size.
  • Lightly oil a cool work surface.
  • "Punch down" or lightly knead the air bubbles out of the dough on the oiled surface.
  • Divide the dough in thirds and roll each third into a rope about 36 inches long.
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment.
  • Braid the 3 strands on the baking sheet, and pinch the ends. To make the 2 loaves, braid the entire strand and cut in half. Set the braids next to each other on the baking sheet.
  • Cover the braids with a towel and let rise at room temperature about 45 minutes.
  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F
  • Combine the beaten egg and 1 tablespoon of milk to make the glaze.
  • Brush the egg glaze over the bread (a pastry brush works well for this).
  • Sprinkle with almonds and pearl sugar (optional).
  • Bake 20-25 minutes until golden. Transfer to a rack to cool to room temperature before cutting.
  • The bread is best eaten the day it is made, but can be stored 1-2 days covered in plastic wrap.