The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Skibum's picture

Pulla, or Nisu as it is known by some Americans of Finnish extraction is my all time favourite sweet bread and has been all of my life.  The recipe I still have in my file was hand written by my mother, from my granny's original recipe.  I have loved this bread as long as I can remember --  back to my grandmother's lap!

I won't post the recipe here as a search of this site turned up identical, authentic recipes.   These loaves are great with coffee or tea for breakfast.  I particularly like a cafe con leche, or a spanish expresso shot with hot milk!  Both the finished loaves and proofed dough freeze well.  I'm afraid I can't comment on the keeping properties of this bread as it simply disappears before your eyes!

Traditional is an egg glaze and sprinkled, crushed sugar cubes.  The chopped almonds are not traditional, but once I tried it, almonds are now an in-dispensible part of the recipe! 

This recipe makes 3 loaves.  I proofed all 3, baked 2 and froze the third loaf, glaze, almonds and all, wrapped in heavy foil, then in plastic.  The night before baking, the frozen pulla goes onto the counter, resting on parchment and supported by a linen couche, covered with plastic and a towel.  In the morning, bake as usual.  Un-frozen dough, above, ready for the oven  Voila:

I could not tell the difference between the fresh baked and baked from frozen pulla!  This is an easy recipe and doable by novice bakers on the first try.  Braiding the loaves is not really difficult.  If you can braid hair or rope, you can braid dough . . .

Bake ON TFLoafers!  Brian


jarkkolaine's picture

My grandfather often tells the story of how during the war, when Helsinki was being bombed, his mother had to leave the pulla dough as the family fled to the nearby bomb shelter. After many hours, when they came back home, there was a surprise waiting for them: pulla dough all over the place -- apparently it had raised rather well!

Pulla, or Nisu as it's known in the United States (in old Finnish, nisu was the word for wheat, nowadays we call it vehnä) is the most common sweet bread in Finland and very popular with coffee -- so popular that it's also known as "kahvileipä", coffee bread.

In this recipe, which I wrote about a year ago, I have tried to combine some of the things I have learned about bread with the best of Finnish pulla.

Most pulla recipes tell you to start from the milk and then slowly add flour until the dough feels right. Because of this, the recipes are not that exact. I go the opposite way and start from flour. I also use less yeast and allow the dough to rest a bit longer. Other than that, this is very traditional pulla.


  • 500 g full milk
  • 8 g cardamom
  • 1 egg (shelled weight about 60 g)
  • 150 g sugar
  • 10 g salt
  • 800 g all-purpose flour
  • 11 g instant yeast
  • 180 g butter
  • For cinnamon rolls, you will also need additional cinnamon and sugar as well as a little melted butter. I didn't measure these, but I hope you can get the amounts by looking at the photos below...


  1. Mix all dry ingredients together.
  2. Heat the milk to 42 degrees celcius to wake up the instant yeast and pour over the dry ingredients. Add the egg.
  3. Mix the dough. I worked the dough for about 10 minutes by hand, using the technique taught by Richard Bertinet.
  4. Add the butter, at room temperature, and continue working the dough until everything is smooth and nice.
  5. Let the dough rest until it's almost doubled in size. I did a stretch and fold sequence after 45 minutes of rest and then let the dough rest for a total of 1.5 hours, or maybe a little more.
  6. To make buns, shape the dough into small balls and let them rest for about 45 minutes before baking. Just before putting them in the oven, coat with egg and some pearl sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes in 225 degrees Celcius.
  7. To make cinnamon rolls, use a rolling pin to form the dough into a rectangle with roughly the shape of a wide-screen television screen and thickness of about 5 millimeters or so. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
  8. Starting from the further wide end, roll towards yourself until you have a nice, tight roll.
  9. Using a sharp knife, cut the left side of the roll so that you have a clean corner at about a 45 degree angle. I like to eat the dough that was cut away, and so do my kids.

  10. Continue from there, cutting to the opposite direction at the same angle, until you reach the end of the roll and can eat some dough again. You should now have a bunch of nice triangles.
  11. Move your triangles on a baking sheet, the tip of the triangle pointing up. Gently press the top down with one finger and leave to rest for 45 minutes or so. 
  12. Bake the same way as the buns.

Fresh pulla is best enjoyed with a glass of cold milk.

And finally, here's my four-year-old's work of art. It has a lot of added sugar and butter!

punainenkettu's picture

Sharing pictures of Holiday Baking

December 19, 2010 - 9:22pm -- punainenkettu

So I adore Finnish Pulla and I recently found out that the grandmother who taught me to make it has recently passed away. So when I made a beautiful batch this year for Christmas I felt extra pleased because I know she would have been proud of my continually improving skill. It's still not as good as hers, (but she had much more practice!) it is still pretty delicious!


This year I baked it in a wreath shape for an office party.


Finn's picture

Grandma Venni's Nisu

December 16, 2010 - 11:41pm -- Finn

Oh do I have fond memories of nisu. My Grandmother ALWAYS had some at her place. When I was young I would have it with maito(milk) and now with coffee. You can dry slices of it in the oven sprinkled with cinnamon sugar which we call korppu. You can eat the korrpu either dipped in coffee or soaked in a bowl of hot milk as a delicious breakfast or night-time snack.

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