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This Finnish cardamom bread is a holiday baking tradition in our home. It is very pretty, smells amazing, and makes a wonderful gift as well!

How to Make Finnish Pulla Bread



1 cup warm water
4 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 cups milk, warmed to 105 degrees F
1 tablespoon salt
3/4 cup tablespoons butter, softened
6 eggs, beaten
4 teaspoons crushed cardamom (can adjust to your taste preference)
about 12 cups of all-purpose flour
pearl sugar (optional, but adds a nice touch, especially if not frosting)

Frosting: (optional)
1/4 cup tablespoons butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
16 oz. powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Add yeast and sugar to warm water in a large mixing bowl. I like to use my KitchenAid for this. Whisk to combine.
  2. Add eggs, warm milk, salt, and cardamom. Whisk to combine.
  3. Add in 1/2 of the flour using the dough hook on your mixer, a manual dough hook, or your hands. Add slowly.
  4. Add melted butter, kneading it in to the dough.
  5. Slowly add in the remaining flour, stopping when the consistency is still moist, but pulls easily from the sides of the bowl or your hands.
  6. Form into a large ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let sit in a warm place to rise.
  7. After the dough has doubled in size, separate it into 8 even balls. Set aside.
  8. Take one of the balls and separate into 3 even balls. Roll out each ball into a long rope. Pinch the top of the three dough ropes together and lay on a sheet of parchment paper. Braid the ropes together and then pinch the bottom ends together. Use your hands to form the braided dough into an even-looking loaf.
  9. Pulling it apart a bit if it’s too skinny, Repeat with the other 3 dough balls. Cover the 8 loaves and set in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour.
  10. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the tops with the beaten egg. Sprinkle the tops with pearl sugar if you don’t plan to frost. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until slightly browned on top.
  11. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a cooling rack. While the bread cools, mix up the frosting.
  12. Start by beating the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and then just enough milk to make it smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Frost the loaves and enjoy!
  13. If you plan to save for later, frost and then flash freeze on parchment paper in the freezer until the frosting has hardened. Then, wrap well in plastic wrap. It freezes very well and can be pulled out and heated up in the oven for a great last-minute breakfast or dessert!

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