I just wanted some bread–which more than anything these days, thanks to the Atkins et al diets, is the sinful pinnacle of eats. Carbs, carbs, CARBS! This desire came from out of nowhere, almost like a character’s unwarranted, sudden actions in a badly written screenplay. There was no reason for this craving, it was just THERE. I woke up with it. I brushed my teeth. I wished the toothpaste was bread. I watched some television. The desire was still there.
I just wanted some bread–and not just any bread. Because if I had to have a sinful pinnacle of eats, then it had to be very good. I wasn’t going to just eat any old bread.
Should I bake some Cheese Board brioches? Or scones?
On that overcast Sunday morning, my unfulfilled desire drumming through my head, I flipped through the current Gourmet issue to satiate myself; perhaps if I saw PICTURES of bread and READ about bread, I wouldn’t actually NEED (er, WANT) bread.
Nope. There it was, a recipe for pulla, a Finnish sweet cardamom raisin bread. I love cardamom–I collect recipes that contain this spice that has all the delight of cinnamon without its harsh edge. I like it so much, I substitute cinnamon with cardamom in a multitude of recipes, including those for pie fillings.
So you see–couple my bread craving with my overall love for cardamom, and you’ve got a perfect intersection with pulla. All of a sudden, I had to make pulla.
Making the pulla is like making most sweet breads–there are two separate risings and it becomes a whole day affair (or at least, a half day affair). There is the combining of ingredients, the kneading, and then the rising…and again, some brief kneading and raisins, and shaping, and then rising…before finally baking (oh, and cooling–but who waits for THAT before jumping in for a bite?! I certainly didn’t.) But there is something leisurely and decadent to a bread that takes six hours to make.
And of course, I was satisfying an overwhelming desire, which in itself is a wondrous thing.
So make it and enjoy–it is just slightly sweet enough to make it perfect with tea. I’d add more raisins next time (I ahem, had already doubled the amount of cardamom), but would otherwise make no adjustments. Still, it was just sweet enough to not scream “dessert” or “pastry” and declare itself bread. I greedily pulled it apart, the steam still escaping from its braids.
Others liked it too.
When I took one of the loaves (the bigger one) to work the next day, the entire loaf disappeared within minutes.
“I baked it yesterday!” was all I had to say, before a multitude of hands ripped into the bread, tearing off chunks (it is the kind of bread that you just pull at and eat). They didn’t even wait to hear me describe what they were eating–nay, devouring.
“It’s pulla!” I yelled at the commotion, “A Finnish sweet bread!”
One person even mumbled, “Is it challah?!”
And before you knew it, the bread was devoured.
I personally love Cheese Board’s brioche the most (it too, has raisins in it) but this is right up there in my list of loved sweet breads.
Recipe follows after the jump…