How To Make: Pulla

I am more of an advocate for clean treats, but pulla is so tightly in my DNA that in the name of giving others the ability to enjoy the essence of Finnish coffee table staple is something that I am willing to compromise on. I have made the Finnish national pastry, pulla, 4 times this past year, and now I decided that it is time for me to share my dear grandma’s wisdom with you.

When I heard the words “But you haven’t even made pulla yet!” yesterday, the inner housewife in me was devastated. And so today I decided that “it is too hot” is merely a poor excuse for not allowing the lovely scent of cardamom and cinnamon to fill the house. All I have is time, so why not sweat for a good cause?

Pulla is essentially cinnamon bun, but then again it has some unique characteristics making it very Finnish/Swedish, depending on which side of the gulf you’re standing. Sure, you can get kanelbulle/kanelipulla/cinnamon buns from Ikea, but trust me, these are way worth the proofing, kneading and baking yourself.

In Auckland I experimented with making gluten free pulla, and ended up gobbling them all down like I would never have the chance to get them again, so it is proven you can also make allergy friendly version of these, it just won’t be quite the same.

Epic Finnish Cinnamon Buns

5 dl/ 2C + 2 tbsp milk (heated to body temperature aka 37C)
50 g yeast or 16 g instant dry active yeast
2 eggs
2 dl/180 g caster sugar
2 tsp fine salt
1-2 tbsp cardamom (use less if whole pods, way more if ground)
1 tsp vanilla (or 2 tsp vanilla sugar)
15 dl all purpose flour (don’t use self rising or other similar wild stuff) and some for dusting
200 g butter or shortening, melted

Filling:
caster sugar
cinnamon
butter

1 egg for brushing

A whisk, mixing bowl at least twice as big as the dough, rolling pin, sharp kitchen knife

Mix the luke warm milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, and vanilla together in a huge bowl. If you use fresh yeast, mix that in with the milk first, otherwise just hang on and mix the dry yeast with a bit of flour. Whisk the milk and other ingredients before gradually adding about 2/3 of the flour. Knead the dough, add butter and the rest of the flour gradually, all the while kneading so that the dough comes off the sides of your bowl and doesn’t stick to your hand. Cover with a tea towel and put the dough bowl in a warm place (ie sink filled with hot water) to incubate for a good while, until the size has about doubled – something around 1/2-2 hours.

Ready to roll
Ready to roll

When the dough is good to go, turn your oven up to 220C. Gently knead the dough for a bit, dust your baking surface with flour, and get your rolling pin ready. Grb a nice big chunk of the dough and roll it into thin rectangular shape. Use flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Once nice and somewhat even, lather the dough with a layer of butter, a layer of sprinkled sugar, and a layer of cinnamon.

Rolled dough ready for cutting
Rolled dough ready for cutting

Start rolling the dough in from the long side like a sushi, making it nice and tight. After you have a roll, turn the edge to face downwards, and it is time to cut! Get your knife, and cut the roll in an angle, like you were making triangles with blunt tops. The size of these blunt triangles depends on the size of your dough roll and how big buns you like. Once you’ve cut all the triangles, turn them so that the blunt part is facing upwards, and use the nail side of your middle fingers to press firmly down lengthwise. This should pop the middle parts out a bit. If not, that’s totally cool as well.

Pulla triangles in a row
Pulla triangles in a row
Neat triangles
Neat triangles

After all the tops are pressed down, whisk an egg in a mug, brush the buns, and sprinkle them with some coarse sugar, also known as pearl sugar. If you can’t find that, no worries, just use normal sugar and almond flakes or coconut flakes or whatever comes to mind. These guys need some more time proofing, so let them be under a tea towel on top of the oven for about 10-15 minutes before baking. Pop the buns in the oven and bake until the smell is divine and the buns are brown – approx. 7-10 minutes, or if your oven is uneven and weird, maybe closer to half an hour.

Ready for brushing and oven
Ready for brushing and oven

Notes: You can also make normal pulla with no cinnamon sugar filling, just by rolling the dough into balls. If you want to make it more interesting, press a hole on the top, and fill it with butter, finish off with a sprinkle of sugar. Raisins are a popular addition in the dough, but personally I like to stick with the cinnamon version.

Pile o' pulla
Pile o’ pulla

The dough is tasty, but with 20 years of pulla making experience, you will feel gross and bloated and get yeast burps if you eat too much of it. I have learned that the hard way, trust me.

Cuppa and pulla
Cuppa and pulla

Enjoy your pulla with coffee, but have cold milk on the side. Best enjoyed warm and fresh from the oven, but also edible the next few days and delicious when popped in the oven for a bit before eating.

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Countdown to the future

Less than a week to go until Bali. 5 days, in fact. I have successfully (finally) presented my thesis in school, done all my shifts at the restaurant, and said “if I don’t see you anymore, see you next year” countless times. Last weekend we had a joint farewell party with a friend who is also going to the same continent, and it was a blast! I baked a lot, got very good feedback for everything, and got plenty of hugs. Luckily at Sunday brunch I realized I still have one more weekend to go and say more goodbyes. I hate saying goodbye.

Gang of feet.
Gang of feet.

Luckily I won’t be away for too long, and most likely I will be reluctant on coming back! Probably everything will be somewhat the same here, though not quite – I need to find a home sooner or later, yet again.

Studying material.
Studying material with flu curing ointment.

Last week I let my mom buy me tons of different possibly essential medications for the trip, and now I also have a cool head lamp! Who knows when the lights go out and there’s no electricity and there’s dogs with rabies chasing me – I can now protect myself! I still haven’t tested my backpack and I still don’t have booked the flight tickets back, only to Vietnam on Jan 2nd. The plan is to go from Ho Chi Minh to Cambodia via Mekong Delta, and then fly to Germany for Biofach expo. We’ll see how that will all sort out…

Sushi at Fuku in Helsinki. Om nom.
Sushi at Fuku in Helsinki. Om nom.

Quality time and quality food make leaving in style worth all the hassle of trying to remember and foresee all the things I might need and the things I definitely will not need and should leave behind. Hard to tell in advance, but besides the arsenal of (mostly diarrhea) medicine I have packed 4 pairs of shorts, 1 sandals and  flip-flops, one hat and some tops. Maybe 3 long sleeve shirts, put them all on for the plane.

Meanwhile in Finland - just like in May!
Meanwhile in Finland – just like in May! Make sense not war.

I am beyond excited to go and discover what it is I will do on my trip – every time someone asks, I wonder the same question myself. Maybe I’ll work, maybe I’ll surf, I don’t know quite yet. In a few months I’ll tell you!

Rainy day sweet day

Fill in the blank: I like being a grown-up because …

… I can substitute the whole days’ meals with desserts and protein bars, and no one can have a say in it. That’s what I did – all it took was a rainy day and a fierce workout to get me in the sweet mood.

Protein pancakes with nutbutter, frozen bananas and cinnamon baked apples. Take that, gloomy day!
Protein pancakes with nutbutter, frozen bananas and cinnamon baked apples. Take that, gloomy day!

Yesterday the fall came with rage – you might know the type of rain that seems to tear your insides out, leaving you just soaking and freezing. That’s far from the sweet, refreshing summer rain, but that’s how it sometimes is here in Finland. Today it even snowed in some parts of the country, luckily not here though. With this rain, you just want to stay indoors, and at least I have the munchies.

Chia pudding with goodies.
Chia pudding with goodies.

Blending berries with chia and topping it with bunch of stuff usually never fails. My favorite blend is chia, lingonberries, maca and some other powders (protein) and some stevia. Topped with coconut, sprouted buckwheat and freeze dried raspberries. Nom.

Yeah, so. The point of this all was to say that the fall is coming here and to be honest, it’s pretty shitty. BUT: all things are so much better when you can replace lunch with the pancakes in the first picture, and have something like the bottom picture for dessert. And lick the peanut butter jar empty. AND know that after the rain, eventually you can go out again to the fresh air. And if it’s not enough consolation, you can just go to Bali.

 

 

Adventures await

Friends – I am still alive! Almost a year without writing here, since I have been (pretty inactively) writing elsewhere. But now it’s time to rise from my ashes and face new adventures! I have booked flights to my next destination, so I feel like I have something to share again. Not that life in Helsinki has been boring, no way! So much has happened during the previous 10 months, I am actually leaving this city with warm thoughts and feeling at home. Though I don’t have a home. So my home IS where my heart is, ha!

 

 

I'm trying my best.
I’m trying my best.

 

I have gotten rid of most of my material possessions; all I have left now is a lamp, Vitamix, coffee grinder and aeropress. Minimalism rules! I moved to my last temporary apartment last weekend, and I did it with a bike. 5 rounds back and forth, that’s all.

 

Taking my space. Kallio Block party.
Taking my space. Kallio Block party.

 

This summer has been weird, awesome, fast and hot, filled with laughter, baking, coffee and friends, just to name a few. I enjoyed a brief holiday at the cottage (!!), eating 15kg of strawberries, and went to Tallinn for lunch.

 

Stylish as ever, fipping the fish with my bff in the background
Stylish as ever, fipping the fish with my bff in the background

 

What else…lots of great things happened, I think I also learnt something, not yet quite sure what. Yesterday I learned that women can’t dunk in basketball. Go figure.

 

5 am in May, Katajannokka.
5 am in May, Katajannokka.

 

Oh, Helsinki. I will miss you (your people, at least!) during my Asian explorations. But no worries, I will come back.

Last quarteryear

Dear friends,

I am still alive! (Not that I thought any of you might have thought I was dead because of what seems like forever-lasting radio -erhm- blog silence)

My last post was something about food, posted from my home at that time – actually my mom’s home- in Tampere. After that, so many things have happened, that they would be worth several posts. Anyhow, since it’s the New Year and the new year is all about looking back and ditching all the bad things and thinking positively about all the great things that lie ahead, I decided to make a comeback. No matter how unpopular this blog might be in the Finnish scale, since Finns read only blogs from Finns that are in Finnish (go figure)…here I go. Again.

La vie, c'est belle!
La vie, c’est belle!

Yeah, I went to Paris (and I did go closer to la tour Eiffel than that). For a brief few days in October, to visit NatExpo trade show for organic industry. Ate a lot of baguette, and have been gluten-free ever since! No more French paradox for me, merci beaucoup. The trip and all the pictures I took would definitely be worth a post itself, but I’ll just give you a hint: if you go to Paris, you must visit all the markets, i.e Bastille, Raspail (organic!), and if you get a chance, go eat in Sol Semilla. I didn’t, and I regret it. Paris, I’m not done with you quite yet.

Morning sunrise in Pyynikki
Morning sunrise in Pyynikki

In September I was feeling out of breath, and not in a I-just-ran-5k way, but in a What-the-f-am-I-doing sort of way that makes you want to just, well, I don’t know how to describe it, really. Long story short, I changed the view above to the biggest hustle and bustle I could find in this country: Helsinki.

Big city life.
Big city life, no kidding

Here I have been since November, busy as a bee. There was Smoothie national competition where I was not smoothing but working for my friend’s company, there was Chocolate Festival where I was working and eating myself up a weight category (though I don’t do any sports that require categories…), there was the Food &wine expo where I was promoting Vitamix for 4 days to people who were interested mostly only in free samples, there was the new job, the other new job, the thesis that finally got started in a way…and trying to figure out which gym to join or sport to start.

My “day job” is now working in a raw food/smoothie bar that is inside Finland’s oldest vegetarian/living foods restaurant. I have learned a lot about coffees and such, get to work with nice people and see people at my workplace (which is luxury), and get to eat proper food! Win win win. Maybe soon I’ll learn how to make the heart shape to cappucino.

Silvoplee, aka who wouldn't want to eat/work here?
Silvoplee, aka who wouldn’t want to eat/work here?

The other job has been editing and creating product descriptions for Foodin.fi, my friends’ online store that sells the best quality stuff I know and have had the chance to try. I am proud to be able to sell the same products in Silvoplee.

The best candy.
The best treats and Lasse.

The third job is not really job – I am working on my thesis for Goodio (chocolates, which just happen to be the best chocolate, pictured above). Coconut ice cream coming up! I have been extremely lazy on the thesis, but this Christmas time I got a kick to do it since it was pitch black and raining all the time, my brother and dad were in Thailand, and I just wanted to feel at least tiny bit proud about being miserable and stuck here. Mission accomplished.

Umm…I was supposed to post this on 2nd of January, but there was few things that got on my way…like a broken wrist. Anyhow, we’ll see how things go. See you soon, I hope!