It’s been ages since I’ve even thought of making Christmas breads. But now, with our world turned upside down, many of us have been making our own bread—so I thought, why not?
These aromatic and spicy loaves are simple to make. Although it’s a yeast dough, the process is still uncomplicated, and your dough hook can do the kneading for you. It also only requires an hour of rising time before you pan the loaves for a final half-hour of rising. That’s just about as easy as it gets!
This Finnish cardamom bread (known as Pulla) was a favorite at the Mountain Gals’ Bake Sale in mid-December. The six loaves Marilyn baked sold out immediately.
Bakers, don’t save this bread for Christmas! It’s delicious served with hot or iced tea on any afternoon under the summer sky—and will keep you just as good company on a wintery day as well.
Traditional Finnish Cardamom Bread
Chef’s note: I like cutting this bread into ½-inch slices for serving. Butter and your favorite jam make delightful additions, but it’s also wonderful all on its own.
1⅔ cups milk, heated to 110–115°F (no warmer)
⅔ cup coconut sugar
4 teaspoons ground cardamom, divided
2 (½ oz.) packages active dry yeast
3 eggs, slightly beaten, plus 1 egg yolk
½ cups organic white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons butter, cut into ½-inch cubes and brought to room temperature (do not melt)
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1–2 tablespoons per loaf almond paste (marzipan)
Sliced almonds, for garnishing
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the warmed milk, coconut sugar, 3 teaspoons of the ground cardamom, and yeast. Stir together until foamy.
- Add the 3 eggs and mix to combine. Next, add flour and salt. Mix until a dough is formed.
- Replace paddle with dough hook. On medium speed, knead dough for 2 minutes. While kneading, add butter 1 tablespoon at a time. After all the butter is incorporated, knead an additional 4–5 minutes. The dough will clear the bowl and be easy to handle.
- Transfer dough to a greased bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled.
- Divide dough in halves. Butter two 8×4-inch loaf pans, and arrange the divided dough in each pan. With a sharp knife or razor blade, cut a slit about 4 inches long on top of each loaf. Crumble the marzipan in each slit. Let loaves rise in pans for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°F.
- Mix remaining 1 teaspoon cardamom, heavy cream, and the egg yolk together. Brush over the loaves and place sliced almonds on the top.
- Bake 25–30 minutes, or until golden. Cool 10 minutes before slicing.
Enjoy Christmas in July!
Image from iStock/Angela Kotsell.