The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pulla Straight Dough and Sourdough

varda's picture

Pulla Straight Dough and Sourdough

I have been meaning to make pulla for awhile, ever since various intriguing posts on the subject.   I followed a combination of jarkkolaine (formula) and Julie J.  I only had cardamon pods, so sort of stripped them and crushed them in my coffee grinder.   Not so easy.   The cardamon makes this incredibly tasty.    I am guessing that adding either a poolish or making these sourdough would make these even better, but that could be gilding the lily.     

I tried this with infusion and sourdough today.   They look pretty similar to the above, but definitely prefer the sourdough version.   These were alarmingly delicious.   This is a simple change to Jarkko's formula and uses Julie's finishing instructions.

Cardamon buns     
Milk125 12550% 
Water 333313% 
Butter45 4518% 
Sugar38 3815% 
Eggs13 135% 
Crushed Cardamon2 20.8% 
Salt2.5 2.51.0% 
67% White Starter83    
Butter dabs     
Egg wash     
Powdered Sugar     
Heat milk (microwave 1 minute)   
Add crushed cardamon and let sit around 20 minutes
Mix all ingredients but butter until strong  
then add chopped room temperature butter  
bit by bit until incorporated    
(I used Bosch compact for all mixing)   
Bulk Ferment around 2 hours with 1 S&F  
Shape into 6 balls     
and proof on tray with parchment around 30 minutes
Press thumb down in middle of each bun  
Put a dab of butter in the indentation   
Eggwash and then sprinkle with white sugar  
Bake for 14 minutes oven preheated to 360  
then reduced to 325    
with convection on     



breadsong's picture

Hi Varda,
Gilding the lily? Poolish or sourdough could be, but infusing the milk with freshly-ground spice, might be, too :^)

This post shows how to use a mortar and pestle to grind the spice (I've done this, works beautifully) and also suggests infusing the liquid for the dough, with the freshly-ground spice:

These pulla you've baked are beautiful! I hope you love the flavor of cardamom bread as much as we do!
:^) breadsong

varda's picture

Thanks so much for the pointer breadsong.   I want to make these all the times, but didn't want to repeat today's cardamon processing fiasco.   Infusing the spices?   Oh, I must do it.  Thanks again!  -Varda

isand66's picture

Those look great Varda.  I'm not sure I like cardamom so I may have to try this.



varda's picture

Just really nice.   I followed jarkkolaine's formula, and Julie's finishing touches.   This is really good, but I do think it would be even better with sourdough and of course infusing as per breadsong's suggestion.   Thanks Ian.  -Varda

Janetcook's picture

HI Varda,

I love the color of the crust on your rolls - almost look like snowflakes. 

Pulla is one of the holiday breads I have on my list to bake in the next couple of weeks.  I will have to try the 'infusing the milk' suggestion that Breadsong linked  above.  Sounds simple enough and I always like to get things done ahead of time if I can.  I love the aroma cardamom creates when baking.  Not a spice I ever had growing up so it has been fun to discover something new and my kids love it….or the bread with it in it - who wouldn't with all the enrichments!!!

Anyway, thanks for this post and thanks Breadsong for the link!

Take Care,


varda's picture

Hey Janet,   These are so good, and I think excellent for holiday baking.   I'm going to try sourdough and also the infusion.  Let me know how your baking goes.  Thanks!  -Varda

Janetcook's picture

I would love to know the flavor difference since I do make mine with sd already….use it with all my breads now.  Realized my cardamom is ground so I am wondering if I should still soak or if that would be overkill since the ground permeates pretty well when the dough ferments overnight anyway…..

I am having fun baking Stollen now.  Last week was Challah and I finally got the formula where I want it - thanks to your help!  I also figured out bake temps. with the Electrolux.  With the Cadco I don't need to adjust down for convection but with the Electrolux I do…a small but meaningful difference when baking highly enriched doughs!

Take Care,


dabrownman's picture

just isn't done or possible - but a plain and simple total and complete smash up is allowed:-)  So Nisu is Pulla and both are Finnish through and through!  I'm not big on large amounts of cardamon after tossing an inedible, taste wise, Swedish / Finnish cardamon bread from Clayton's book.  A little goes a long way.

Your buns are still good looking and have to be tasty by either name or another one if we can find it.  This week the GMA's made braided loaves with their Nisu.  Now Lucy wants Nisu based cardamon rolls that look like Cinnabon made them :-)  Talk about gilding the lily?

happy baking Varda! 

varda's picture

Hey DA, I followed Jarkko's formula and the cardamon was just right.   I think Clayton didn't try 90% of the recipes in his book, as I found several to be inedible and many just not quite right.   I did throw out a borodinsky once because I couldn't tolerate the coriander and I've toned it down every since.    Recently a friend of mine gave one of my loaves to her friends who are Russian, and they loved it EXCEPT not enough coriander.   Can't win for losing or something like that.   I didn't realize that the GMAs and I were baking the same thing.   Must be cardamon in the air.   Tell Lucy not to go for the Cinnabon approach unless she's had her arteries checked out. Anyhow, I think my lily is pretty much gilded by now.  Or my goose is cooked.   Not sure which.  Thanks for commenting.  -Varda

holds99's picture

Lovely rolls.  Thanks for posting the link, they look great and sound delicious: perfect for breakfast.  I copied the recipe and will give these a try in the near future.   Based on what you said, I'll be prudent with the cardamon, as it can be overpowering.


varda's picture

Be careful.  Hope you enjoy these as much as we have.   Thanks Howard.  -Varda

Skibum's picture

I still have my mothers hand written recipe which is similar to many recipes searched on this site. Jarko's recipe is similar. I have tried this as a sourdough bake a couple of times with mixed results: one okay and one throw away. My yeasted pullas are always good. By the way I always infuse the cardamom in the scalded milk. I will post my family pulla recipe if anyone is interested. It is most traditional. Brian

varda's picture

Brian, Have you ever heard anyone on TFL say they didn't want someone to share their mom's recipe?   I have seen your beautiful pictures of Pulla.   I just made a sourdough version with the cardamon infused in the milk.    It was even better than the first.   I'll post it above.   Thanks for commenting.  -Varda

Skibum's picture

. . . Grandmother's recipe handwritten by my mom. Granny was a Finnish immigrant and a fabulous cook and baker. Her pulla was the best ever and her venison roasts to die for! As I have mentioned, this recipe is very traditional and similar to other pulla/ nisu recipes previously posted, but it is relevant now and here you go:



  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 7-8 whole cardamom pods, seeded and crushed (about 1 tsp)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 9 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • white sugar, for sprinkling



  1. Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Infuse the ground cardamom in the hot milk. Let cool until lukewarm.
  2. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Stir in the lukewarm milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, 4 eggs, and enough flour to make a batter (approximately 2 cups). Beat until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add about 3 cups of the flour and beat well; the dough should be smooth and glossy in appearance. Add the melted butter and stir well. Beat again until the dough looks glossy. Stir in the remaining flour until the dough is stiff.
  3. Turn out of bowl onto a floured surface, cover with an inverted mixing bowl, and let rest for 15 minutes. Knead the dough until smooth and satiny, about 12 minutes. Place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, and turn the dough to grease the top. Cover with a clean dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch down, and let rise again until almost doubled.
  4. Turn out again on to a floured surface, and divide into 3 parts. Divide each third into 3 again. Roll each piece into a 12 to 16 inch strip. Braid 3 strips into a loaf. You should get 3 large braided loaves. Lift the braids onto greased baking sheets or parchment paper on baking sheets.  (I prefer the parchment paper for clean up, my add granny and mom never had parchment in my memory.)  Let rise for 20 minutes.
  5. Brush each loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Traditional is to use sugar lumps and crush them coarsely, but I just sprinkle lots of granulated sugar.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 25 minutes. Check occasionally because the bottom burns easily. I am looking for 195 – 200 F inside when done.

 I am going to have to try the SD pulla again with YW and be more patient. I may add a small amount of ADY as my last go around was a throw out. I fed my YW levain 1 :1:1 4 hours ago and it has doubled: 25g YW levain, 25g YW and 25g bread flour. I fed my sweet levain at the same time in same ratios and amounts and it is lagging the YW build by a half. Well these should be ripe to bake in the morning. I LOVE this stuff! Hey, I grew up on it.

Happy pulla baking friends! Brian

varda's picture

Brian,   Thanks so much for posting.   Will try this as well, since now I'm totally into pulla.   Have you converted to weights?   Just hoping.... -Varda

Skibum's picture

. . . I have tried in past and always forget to weigh the final flour as it is being mixed and have always forgotten. I will try and remember tomorrow to do so. I have been making pulla for lot longer than regular bread and have kind of got a feel for the dough. By the way, in my dry high altitude environment, I can never get the full cup measurement of flour incorporated in the mix. In addition to the sugar on the egg wash, ground almonds and shattered almond slivers are a great topping. Serve with good strong coffee.

When I was a kid in early school, my classmates and friends first laughed at my 'funny looking bread.' Then when I finally shared some with a friend, they stopped laughing and couldn't get enough. 

My pulla is actually better than my mom's, (sorry mom), you do need the second bulk rise and mom took a shortcut, but not as good a Granny's. Perhaps I will try some AP flour tomorrow, as that is likely all she had.

Enjoy your pulla!