Sunday, December 08, 2013
In the final year of Gourmet Magazine's publication, they had a recipe for a braided pulla bread. I made it, it was terrible, and I never gave pulla a second thought-until I bought Beatrice Ojakangas' Great Holiday Baking Book. Now these are worth baking!
As the first real snowfall of the year trickled down at a steady pace, my kitchen was warm, and filled with the scent of butter and cardamom. You can make these as a braided ring, two braided loaves, or 36 small buns. I made mine slightly larger, and got 20. The buns have a pat of butter and some sugar inserted as a filling before glazing, the loaves just get a glaze. I omitted the nuts, and I did not add any candied peel or sultanas as is traditional at holiday time. These weren't in the oven but five minutes before I had a couple noses poking about the kitchen wanting to know what was baking. I did not bother grinding fresh cardamom, as I had a new, unopened packet already ground. Because these are so special, you don't want to use cardamom that has been sitting at the back of your pantry for a few years, opened. Get some fresh, or grind it yourself.
You Will Need:
2 cups milk, scalded and cooled to 130 degrees F.
5 1/2 teaspoons granulated yeast (not instant)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
5-6 cups plain flour (I replaced 1 cup with strong flour)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
Filling for buns:
1/2 cup butter cut into as many pieces as you have buns
1/2 teaspoon sugar for each bun
1 large egg beaten with 2 tablespoons milk. Top with parlsocker, almonds, or both
In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, sugar, 4 cups of the flour, the salt, and cardamom. Add the milk, butter, and eggs and beat until soft and smooth. Add enough of the remaining flour until you have a soft dough. Cover, and let stand 30 minutes.
Knead the dough well for 10 minutes or until elastic. Place in a greased bowl, turn once to coat, then cover and let rise until doubled-about 1 hour.
Divide the dough into 20-36 pieces. Shape into smooth balls as you would for rolls, pulling under and pincing to make a smooth top. Set on a greased baking sheet (I used parchment as the butter in the buns gets a bit messy), cover, and let rise until puffy-30-45 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Before baking, punch the butter pieces down into the roll, sprinkle with the sugar, then brush the entire bun with the glaze. Add sugar or almond topping. Bake 12-14 minutes (longer for larger buns) or until golden. Do not over bake. Cool on a rack. It wouldn't hurt to put some wax paper beneath the rack to catch dripping butter as the buns cool.