Tag Archives: bread

Finnish Pulla Bread

Are you a fan of challah or brioche?  A fan of Scandinavian foods?  A fan of anything involving bread?  If you said yes to at least one of these, you’ve just got to give pulla a try.  Tender texture, slightly sweet, spiced with cardamom, and flat-out gorgeous.  I amazed myself with how lovely this bread turned out.

This recipe comes from Baking With Julia, a book generated by the PBS series of the same name.  It’s not one of Julia’s recipes, but rather one from a guest chef, Beatrice, Ojakangas.  Pulla is really no more difficult than making any bread.  Gather what you need and prepare to amaze yourself!

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (abou 110F)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom (about 7 pods if you choose to grind them yourself)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten, room temperature
  • 4 1/2-5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Just before baking:

  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 TBSP milk for glaze
  • Sliced or slivered almonds, if desired
  • large-granuled sugar

Place milk in a small saucepan over medium heat and scald it–heat until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan.  Watch the pot carefully–milk can go from scalded to boiled-over to burned very quickly!  Remove from heat and cool to 105-115F.

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast into warm water.  Whisk to combine and set aside for 5 minutes for yeast to dissolve completely and become creamy.

Whisk in milk, sugar, cardamom, salt and eggs.

Stir in 2 cups flour to make a smooth batter.

Stir in butter.

Add additional flour, 1/2 cup at a time until you have a stiff, but not dry dough.  You might not need the entire 5 cups.  I used a stand mixer, adding flour until the dough pulled away from the sides.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

Remove dough from the bowl to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.  I left mine in the bowl of the mixer and let the dough hook knead it for 8 minutes, adding wee bits of flour when the dough started climbing over the top of the hook, or when the dough was sticking to the bottom.  I hand-kneaded for the last two minutes until I had a satiny dough ball.

Place the dough ball in a greased bowl, turning once so the top is buttered.  Cover with the same piece of plastic wrap used while the dough rested, and let rise at room temperature until doubled.  45 minutes-1 hour.  This time of year, my house is too chilly for a good rise, so I ended up setting the bowl on top of my dryer while I did laundry.  Worked like a charm!

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat.  Preheat oven to 375F.  Turn the dough onto a cool, lightly oiled, working surface.  (The recipe suggests rubbing an ice-filled metal pan over your surface to cool it if your kitchen is very hot.  My counter felt cool to the touch, so I went right to the next step.)  Knead just until the dough deflates and the air has been worked out.  Divide dough into two equal portions to create two braided loaves. (Pulla is traditionally formed into a wreath.  Do not divide in two if you want a wreath.)

Divide each half into three equal portions. (Same for the wreath, you’ll divide the original amount of dough into three.)

Using your hands, roll each portion into a rope, about 18 inches long,  (36 inches long for the wreath.)

Lay three pieces side-by-side and braid from the center down, pinching the ends.  (For the wreath, start at one end and braid all the way to the bottom.)

Turn the braid so the loose ends face you and braid the other half, pinching the ends.  (For the wreath, form the braid into a circle, pinching the ends together.  You can also cut about 1 inch of dough from each end of the braid prior to joining it into a circle.  Use the cut-off dough to fashion a bow to cover the place where the ends join.)

Place the loaves or wreath on the prepared pan, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until puffy, but not doubled.  About 45 minutes.  I set my pan on top of the stove.  The heating oven made it warm enough to rise nicely.

Whisk egg and milk together for the egg wash glaze.

Brush egg wash over every exposed surface of the bread, including sides and ends.  Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake on a rack in the middle of your oven, 20-25 minutes, until golden.  Do not over-bake.  Mine were perfect in 20 minutes.  The aroma created by these loaves is heavenly!

Aren’t they pretty?  No more difficult than any bread really, but so much more special.  Uber-yummy all on its own, or with butter, or jam or melty brie, or…….!  Perfect for the holidays or anytime you want a bakery-quality bread from your own kitchen!  Perfect to take to the holiday party you’re invited to, lovely as a gift with a jar of jam.

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Perfect Bread Pudding

I have to thank my sister for this post.  (Thanks Sissy!)  This week, she texted me for a bread pudding recipe.  I hadn’t made this in ages, but thought she’d enjoy the recipe with pictures, ala Somethin’ Yummy, rather than an emailed recipe.  So happy she asked, because now I have a whole muffin tin full of perfectly portioned bread puddings that filled the house with the yummy aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.

I had everything I needed:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 cups 1/2″ day-old bread cubes
  • 1 cup chopped/crumbled spiced pecans (Mom’s recipe–to be blogged soon!) or pralines

Wisk eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla together.

Wisk in cream and milk.

Fold in bread cubes and pecans.

Tap floating bread cubes with a spoon to submerge them as much as possible into the custard.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Generously butter the 12 wells of a muffin tin with 1 TBSP butter.

Spoon bread and custard evenly into the 12 wells.

Bake for 30-35 minutes; until the centers are firm.

Serve with a spoonful or two or three of melted vanilla ice cream.  If you want to be all fancy, call this melted ice cream Creme Anglaise.  (They are essentially the same thing!)  The tops are crisp, the centers creamy and soft and yummy, with a lovely pecan crunch.

Michael and I enjoyed the fresh, slightly tart flavor of red raspberries with the yummy just-sweet-enough, cinnamon-y bread pudding.  I’m also loving the perfect portions created using the muffin tin; just enough to have that comfort food pampering, not enough to sabotage the efforts to eat more healthily.

I think just a bit of butterscotch or caramel sauce would also be yummy…or a scoop of ice cream….or strawberries….or with a late harvest riesling….or maybe just a quick zap in the microwave later for a midnight snack!  Hope you enjoy these, Sonia–did you notice Aunt Katrine’s plates?!  ❤

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Green Chile and Cheese Strata

The grocery store I shop most often has a couple of clearance areas.  One has dented cannned goods and seasonal leftovers, the other has baked goods nearing their expiration date.  I just can’t resist half-price artisan breads; so wonderful to have them on hand for soups and such.  Sometimes this results in leftover partial loaves, which are perfect for yummy breakfast stratas!

Stratas are super easy to make and are super flexible ingredient-wise, but must be put together the night before you plan to serve them.

For an 8×8 strata:

  • approximately 1/2 loaf leftover bread 
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 can chopped green chiles (I’d use two cans if you don’t use pepper jack cheese.) 
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I used pepper jack–yum!)

Start by thinly slicing the bread.

Layer half of the bread, tearing it to fill in holes, in a buttered 8×8 pan.

Saute the onions in a bit of oil until translucent.

Stir in green chiles.

Spread half of the green chile mixture over the bread.

Next, spread half of the shredded cheese.

Follow with another bread layer, then chiles, then cheese.

Whisk together eggs and half and half.  Pour over the layers as evenly as possible.

Cover with plastic wrap.  The wrap needs to touch the surface of the strata.

Place another 8×8 pan on the plastic wrapped surface of the strata and weight with a couple cans of veggies or dried beans.  This allows the bread to become thoroughly saturated with the custard.  Refrigerate over night.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Bake strata 50-60 minutes, or until puffed, pulling away from the edges and golden.

Cut into squares and enjoy the melty, yummy wonderfulness.

Oh yeah.  The perfect breakfast bite. 

Stratas are great for overnight guests, great to take for a potluck brunch, and awesome left over.  Microwave cold pieces of baked strata for a quick breakfast the next day!

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Celine’s Swedish-Style Meatballs

My mom made the best meatballs, and always served them with red sauce and pasta. However, these meatballs have a unique flavor–very un-Italian–and are cooked in an unusual way.  This got me to thinking they just might have Scandinavian roots.  Sure enough, the Swedish meatball recipes I found are made in a similar fashion and also include spices not normally associated with Italian meatballs.   I wonder if she knew, or if this is a recipe from the Scandinavian side of the family and she never even thought about it.  No matter, they are super tender and yummy!

Here’s what you’ll need to make meatballs just like Mom made ’em:

  • 1 pound burger  (Always hamburger while I was growing up.)
  • 2 slices of bread, soaked in water, wrung out and shredded
  • 1/4-1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 tsp mace
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg
  • flour  to coat meatballs
  • 2 bay leaves

Start by soaking the bread in water. 

When the bread has soaked up all the water it can, wring it out, shred it and add it to a bowl with the burger, onion, mace, salt pepper and egg.

Using your hands, gently mix everything together just until combined.  Over-working raw meat will make it tight and tough.

I use a cookie scoop to make uniform-sized balls, forming them a bit in my hands.  Roll each one in flour.

Place meatballs in a large skillet with 1 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP oil.

Brown on all sides.  This will cause a loss of roundness, exactly how they always look.

When meatballs are browned all over, cover them with water, add bay leaves, bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes.  The flour coating the meatballs will become a gravy coating!

Meanwhile, cook the pasta of your choice according to package directions.  Gently mix pasta, sauce and meatballs.

Serve some up on a plate,

add some finely grated parmesan cheese,

and have a bite of that tender, yummy meatball.

After reading other Swedish meatball recipes, I want to experiment a bit with Mom’s original recipe and serve them more Swedish-style.  The gravy of this recipe sounds the most enticing to me–it uses a bit of ligonberry preserves!  I also liked the idea of cardamom in the meatballs.  I don’t think Mom would mind a bit of tinkering for the sake of Scandinavian yumminess.

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Filed under comfort food, dinner, Food memories, Norwegian Foods, Potluck, recipe