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Oct 11, 2022

Finnish Pulla Bread

Finnish Pulla is a lovely bread, lightly sweetened and enriched with butter, milk, and eggs, similar to challah.  

Finnish Cardamon Pulla Bread with pearl sugar.

What makes it Pulla is crushed cardamom, which is mixed into the dough to add a heavenly flavor. 

Cardamom is a spice often used in Nordic baked goods, including Swedish kardemummabullar and Limpa (Swedish Rye). 

Just like cinnamon, in other parts of the world it can also be found in savory dishes. You will love the subtle flavor that the cardamom brings to this bread. 

Finnish Cardamon Pulla Bread on black plates.

Although it is often an everyday breakfast bread, Finnish Pulla can also be a celebration bread, especially when shaped as a braided wreath (for Christmas) or or as a long braid. It can be stunning presented at the center of your table, especially Christmas morning. 

This bread is surprisingly easy to make and looks impressive. It is best served the first day, but also makes lovely toast and French toast. 

The first time I made it, two little boys (my grandsons who are now teenagers) fell in love with this bread. While waiting for their dad (our son) to pick them up, they each asked for a piece, and then asked for another piece, and then a third piece until I cut them off before spoiling their appetites. I sent half of the loaf home with them. 

Finnish Cardamon Pulla Bread wreath.

This recipe is from the book, Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (1996). It is based on the PBS Series of the same name, hosted by Julia Child. In each episode, Julia would invite a reknowned baker into her kitchen to teach her and the viewer how to bake breads, pastries, cookies, and cakes. 

Featured bakers include Flo Braker, Steve Sullivan, Nick Malgieri, Alice Medrich, Esther McManus, Nancy Silveron, and Beatrice Ojakangas (who contributed this recipe), plus many more. 

I've baked many of the recipes in the book, and if I could find the shows online, I watched the accompanying PBS show. What a delight! 

Examples of what I learned how to bake from this book:



Homemade Pita Bread


French Bread

Pretty amazing for a beginning baker back then! 

The book covers breads, flatbreads, pastries, quick breads, cakes, and cookies. Learning how to laminate dough is worth the price of this book. There's even a wedding cake by Martha Stewart (which I did not attempt)!

This book could actually be a textbook on how to bake. 

Finnish Pulla Bread in a baking pan.

According to the book, once you braid the bread, a small amount of the dough is cut off of the ends and shaped into a bow to conceal the seam where the two ends are joined.

The first time I made this Pulla (above photo), I tried several times to make a bow, but it looked more like a weird pretzel, so I ended up wrapping the strands around the seam. Hey, the photo in the cookbook doesn't have a bow either.

This time I was able to add a bow! 

Finnish Pulla Bread with a dough bow.

This bread rose quite a bit in the oven. I just love watching the miracle of "oven spring" in the oven window. I've probably shortened the life of my oven light because I love watching bread rise when it first hits the heat. 

You'll love working with this dough.

Finnish Pulla Bread slices on black plates.

Besided cardamom, which, if you can, buy it in pods and not already ground (because it will lose it's flavor very quickly), the only other specialty ingredient you will want is Swedish Pearl Sugar. If you can't find it, you can also use sparkling sugar or crushed sugar cubes. 

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Welcome to National Cookbook Month! We are all introducing you to one of our favorite cookbooks! If you are a cookbook nut like I am, you will enjoy checking out everyone's recommendations. 

Thank you Jolene's Recipe Journal for hosting. 

Finnish Pulla Bread on a board

Originally posted December, 2012 and updated October, 2022. 

Finnish Pulla Bread

Finnish Pulla Bread
Yield: 32 slices
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Finnish Pulla is a lovely bread, lightly sweetened and enriched with butter, milk, and eggs, similar to challah.


For the Dough
  • 1 cup milk (2% or whole)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon crushed cardamom seeds (from about 7 pods)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large room temperature eggs
  • 637 to 708 grams (22.5 to 25 ounces/4 1/2 to 5 cups) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 113 grams (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the Glaze
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk
  • Slivered almonds
  • Pearl sugar


  1. Scald the milk (so that there are bubbles just forming around the edges of the milk as you cook it in a small saucepan. Add it to the bowl of a stand mixer and let cool to 105 to 115 degrees F.
  2. Add the water, sugar, instant yeast, cardamom, salt, and eggs to the bowl and whisk everything together.
  3. Add 3 cups of the flour to the bowl and mix everything together with the dough hook on low until smooth.
  4. Add the melted butter and mix until fully incorporated.
  5. Add more flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing until you have a smooth dough. I ended up adding all but the last 1/2 cup of flour.
  6. Mix on medium speed for about 5 minutes.
  7. Shape the dough into a bowl and place it into an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 45 minutes to an hour, until doubled.
  8. Line a baking sheet or pizza pan with parchment paper and heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  9. Divide the dough into three pieces and roll each out into 36 inch strands. Braid the strands from end to end. Form the dough into a wreath and place it on the parchment lined baking sheet. Cut off a little bit of the dough at the end and roll it into a thin rope. Shape it into a bow and place it over the seam of the wreath.
  10. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes, until puffy but not doubled.
  11. Brush the risen dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with the pearl sugar and almonds.
  12. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.
  13. Cool on a wire rack.

Nutrition Facts



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  1. It's nice to see what the pearl sugar looks like on the loaf - I used some coarse cane sugar that I had on hand. I have to say, that endorsement from your grandsons was sweet. When kids ask for thirds, you know it's good!

    1. Yes, I love it when they really like what I make.

  2. This was a beautiful loaf, wasn't it? The color on yours is perfect.
    I kept looking for the bow in the picture as well - I wanted to see how they did it. No bow!!!!

  3. LOL...yeah, that bow was the hardest part of this recipe! Beautiful wreath!!!!

    1. Thanks! I must have tried about 10 times, then I imagined that even if I got a good bow that it would morph in the oven. =)

  4. Yours looks just gorgeous! I am jealous of the browned top -- ovens here in Peru just don't have the top element to nicely brown anything. I know what you mean on the dough bow -- I felt like this made me realize that I need lessons in bread shaping. Ha! Great job!

  5. It really is a gorgeous bread. I'm so glad we made this one. For some reason I didn't pay attention to adding a bow. It would have certainly helped to hide the bad part of my braid! Oh well, next time. And I'll definitely have to get the pearl sugar for next time.

    1. It's always nice to justify having purchased something like this =)

  6. The colour on your bread is beautiful and your braid looks so neat compared to mine!! :) I agree.. impressive looking bread!!

    1. Your braid looks great! I love your photos!

  7. Gorgeous, gorgeous!!! I have that book. Will definitely check out this recipe. I love cardamom.

    1. Thanks Hanaa. The cardamom flavor is very subtle. Just right.

  8. Karen, what a picture perfect looking Finnish Pulla - I am sure that it must have tasted just fabulous! The slivered almonds and the pearl sugar make for a very pretty topping, I agree.

  9. This recipe made my day...and my Christmas holidays! It is sooo delicious.
    Your wreath is beautiful, Karen.
    Happy holidays

  10. The pearl sugar looks very festive. Beautiful.

  11. I should have abandoned the bow too, yours turned out great! Sounds like it was a big success with some very special boys.

  12. Beautiful! I had trouble with the bow, too. I will probably not do it next time. My boys really liked this and I may have to try the french toast idea.

    1. Thanks! Don't you just love boys' unbridled enthusiasm!

  13. What a beautiful wreath and the color is outstanding. No wonder those little boys couldn't get enough!

  14. Beautiful looking bread! Gorgeous color! I should have abandoned the bow, too…it took me longer to make the bow than braid the bread!

    1. Lol. that's kind of where I was when I gave up!

  15. Your bread looks wonderful - those are two lucky boys!

  16. Your loaf is beautiful! I had issues with the bow as well. We really enjoyed this recipe.

  17. Beautiful loaf. My bow looks good, but it is only because I used a small amount of dough to make it. Had I followed the recipe, the bow would have looked like a pretzel too.

  18. Another gorgeous bread! Love the idea of using it for french toast!

  19. I love cardamom and I would love a piece of this bread with my coffee right now.

  20. I just love pulla! Am I missing the cardamom in the recipe though?

  21. Hi there, this recipe looks amazing. Do you think it could work well enough without a stand mixer, and mixing by hand?

    1. Yes, it would work just fine kneaded by hand.


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