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A Christmas Tradition

January 1, 2010
tags: baking, Christmas, recipes
by Hannah


I wanted to post this closer to Christmas, but I am just going to go ahead with it now since that obviously didn’t happen.

My mom and I have been making poulla for the holidays for years. It is a traditional Finnish coffee bread, the wonderful key ingredient being cardamom. I love it. My whole family loves it.

One recipe makes three loaves. If you are going to make it, prepare for it to take over your whole kitchen and half your day. But it is so, so worth it.

You need:

2 cups of milk
1/2 cup of warm water
1 (.25oz.) package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp.)
1 cup of white sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of ground cardamom
4 eggs, beaten
9 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons of white sugar

First, warm the milk on the stove in a saucepan until it just starts to bubble, then remove from heat and let it cool until it’s lukewarm.

Meanwhile, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Then stir in the milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, 4 eggs, and about 2 1/2 cups of the flour. Beat until batter is smooth. Add about 2 1/2-3 cups of the flour and beat well until the dough is smooth in appearance. Add the melted butter and beat until dough looks glossy, then stir in remaining flour until dough is stiff.

Turn out onto a floured surface and cover with your mixing bowl, and let it rest for 15 minutes. Knead the dough until it’s smooth and satiny. Place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, and turn dough over to grease the top. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise in a warm place for about an hour. Punch down, then let rise again until almost the size it was.

Turn out again onto your floured surface, and divide into 3 parts. Divide each third into three again, and roll each piece between your hands into a 12 to 16 inch strip. Braid three strips into a loaf, tucking the ends under a little, and lift the braids onto greased baking sheets. Let rise for 20 mintutes.


Brush each loaf with a bit of the beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Check occasionally to avoid burning the bottoms. I usually brush with a little more melted butter and sprinkle a bit more sugar on top then. Because it tastes good.



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  1. Taina permalink
    January 11, 2010 12:09 am

    Hey gal! Great looking site. This recipe looks like your great grandmother Mary’s. I make it every year, though these days I let the bread machine do the mixing more or less. Its a bit big for our machine (3 loaves after all - or 2 BIG braids) so I help it a bit and then turn it into a bowl to rise instead of leaving it in the machine. Easier on my old crunchy shoulders/rotator cuffs.

    The photos of your felted bowls are Great! I am trying to get a box together for you guys (heavy on the Seth gifts as you might suspect) but starting the new job 1/4 - the day after being away for a week…. I’m way behind on stuff. And the Christmas tree is now a fire hazard I am sure - its so dried out.

    Love you! - Taina

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