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.

More Carnivals and few tips for Helsinki

Apparently my time in Helsinki was all about good people, cakes and other (gourmet) food! NB: This post includes links to recommended places in Helsinki, most of them are in Finnish. However, I bet you get the idea and I do recommend you to visit even though you don’t understand much of the interwebs info. Reality is so much better, anyways. And they do speak English.

If you ever go to Helsinki and you care about what you eat and drink, I highly recommend Johan & Nyström in Katajanokka. I have posted pictures before, this time around I went for some serious cake tasting. The place has a good selection on different raw cakes and pastries, and you can also get different kinds of quality coffees and teas. However, there are better places to get your caffeine fix: Caffi, Kaffa Roastery, Gruppo Coffee Lab just to name a few better than average places…Helsinki has much more brewing on than in Tampere, and I still have more places to check out!

After Eight (the winner), Raspberry licorice, and lingonberry cake (skip this one) at Johan & Nyström
After Eight (the winner of the tasting), Raspberry licorice, and lingonberry cake (skip this one) at Johan & Nyström

Last Thursday was The Night of the Arts in Helsinki, which included loads of cultural events around the city. Since I was busy with the Raw Food course, I couldn’t attend anything, I just had time to visit Teurastamo, an old slaughterhouse nowadays a culture space and a restaurant, which hosted a night market carnival event. Too bad Evira didn’t allow crickets to be served for some ridiculous reasons, such as not all species are edible (not all mushrooms are edible, but some are still eaten! Why are the Asians eating crickets and still alive?), I would have liked to try those. In stead, we had some delicious summer rolls from Rulla, and my dad enjoyed some frog legs as well. This was my first visit to Teurastamo area, which also hosts a solar-powered kitchen. Pretty cool atmosphere and area!

Carnival in a slaughterhouse
Carnival feeling
Creative rulla-combos served with a smile
Creative rulla-combos served with a smile
Hammocks, frog legs and graffitis in a slaughterhouse
Hammocks, frog legs and graffitis in a slaughterhouse

I am back in Tampere now, but can’t wait to go back to Helsinki to try out few other places. I already had a terrific lunch for a fairly reasonable price (9,7€ for mediterranean appetizer buffet, main course and fruits+coffee) in Krog Madame, which besides the delicious food and good looking staff also has a nice patio. Another place with a nice atmosphere: Cafe Köket (the Swedish name is a bit misleading) near the big church. Nice service and good breakfast in Finnish designer environment.

Take your pick and move to the buffet table
Take your pick and move to the buffet table

Since I seem to have so many new favorites around town I might have to dedicate a separate post to them all. But while I’m at it (or not really), check out Costo, the coolest hats I know and own. I might have bought 2 new ones this past week.

Something was going on in Tampere this weekend and upcoming week: DesignOn Tampere and Design market.

Finnish hats, jewelry, clothes and artisan stuff
Hats, jewelry, clothes and artisan stuff from Finland

I love happenings!

Luxe life

The reason for not posting for a while is not that I did not have anything to write about; quite the contrary. Last week’s Friday I got to see my mother for the first since leaving to Japan! The last week I left Paul Yee Mansion and moved to The Luxe Manor in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon island.

Beautiful decor in Luxe Manor
Beautiful interior in Luxe Manor

 

Even the toilet in the hotel room was bigger than the room I live in! Besides the luxurious room, there was a rather satisfying gym, and very fulfilling breakfast with a lot of things I didn’t expect! And since my mother came from Finland, I got some souvenirs…

Finnish twist to Hong Kong breakfast
Finnish twist to Hong Kong breakfast

I didn’t think I missed something from Finland, but oh man, the rye bread was something divine! And let’s just say that the souvenir salmiakki I brought to work didn’t last more than 15 mins. I was not the only one enjoying it, though.

 

Dada bar with dada drinks and decor
Dada bar with dada drinks and decor

 

This week I did, saw, experienced and ate a lot of things I haven’t done, seen or tried before. Just to mention a few:

Hong Kong from the Peak
Hong Kong from the Peak

 

Viru beer in a triangle bottle in the highest bar in Asia: Ozone, 118th floor
Viru beer in a triangle bottle in the highest bar in Asia: Ozone, 118th floor of Ritz Carlton

 

 

Lamma Island, almost deserted with beautiful nature
Lamma Island, almost deserted with beautiful nature

 

 

Horse races. To be honest: horses were not the main point in Happy Valley that night
Horse races. To be honest: horses were not the main point in Happy Valley that night

 

 

Tai O: fishermen's village with a lot of character (and gooey, smelly, purple shrimp paste)
Tai O: fishermen’s village with a lot of character (and gooey, smelly, purple shrimp paste)

 

 

Vegetarian sushi. I know
Vegetarian sushi. I know

 

 

Oh yes, these past 10 days have been exquisite – I even got to be a pincushion, aka try Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture. I will not do that 3 times a week as advised. This evening mom left back home to freezing Finland, I came back to my home to sweating hot Wan Chai, and started munching on the salmiakki I hid for this kind of situations. Homesickness? Nah. But there is quite nothing like being with family. And we were home, or at least I was. I think mom was happy to go back to the peace and quiet.

 

Oh, I will miss these pillows and everything that came with them
Oh, I will miss these pillows and everything that came with them

Land of the Lakes in the Land of the Rising Sun

What a poetic title to a post mostly dedicated to consuming.
There’s more Finnish things than just the Moomin cafes in Japan, although most of the Finnish items you can find are related to Moomin. During my travels outside Beppu, I have found Marimekko stores as well as shops selling Iittala dishes. In Tokyo, there are also several shops with Finnish names. The shops may have nothing to do with Finland, but apparently the words sound nice to the Japanese.

Cucumber
Cucumber restaurant
Thank you shop
Thank you shop

I’ve also seen “I, butterfly” and “Maybe Cute” as well as “Kitchen” shops.

Some want to take the Finnish back home!

Sweet and savory Finnish containers
Sweet and savory Finnish containers
Our national pride, Iittala, on sale
Our national pride, Iittala, on sale

The Japanese travel to Finland to see the Aurora (Northern lights), which I have’t seen since the 90’s. Maybe also the nature attracts them. Food – not so much.

This is what Finland looks like
This is what Finland looks like

To balance things out, Ikea is not the only Swedish thing in Japan.

I thought Lapland is in Finland
I thought Lapland is in Finland

Eat Moomin

Usually people have no clue about what or where Finland is, but in Japan I can proudly say I am from Finland. In few occasions with my Swedish friends, the people asking our origin don’t understand the word “Suweeden”, but start “aahing”, smiling and nodding when I say Finland. Why is Finland so well known and popular? Not because of ice hockey or Angry Birds (which is not so popular to begin with). It’s Santa Claus and Moomin!

Moomin cafe, Tokyo Dome
Moomin cafe, Tokyo Dome

After seeing the Moomin cafe in Fukuoka, I of course had go to see the other two highly popular ones in Tokyo as well.

Tokyo Skytree, waiting time unknown
Tokyo Skytree, waiting time unknown

The verdict (without actually trying the menu):
All of the Moomin cafes are very adorable, and they have the Moomin atmosphere. The plush toys and books are comfy addition to the decoration, and the moomin background “music” surely reminds of the animation series (even though in Japanese and with different voice-overs).

Finnish color theme and happy customers
Finnish color theme and happy customers

My favorite of the cafes is definitely the Tokyo Dome one. Where as the menus in all of the cafes are similar, Japanified versions of something people might eat in Finland, in Tokyo Dome they also have a pretty decent selection of what seemed like pretty decent breads. Unfortunately, the bread buffet couldn’t be ordered without a meal. Having been bread-deprived for the last half year, I most likely would have gone overboard with the buffet alone.

I have never heard about blueberry coffee in Finland - and the "naminami" (yum yum) munkki doesn't sound familiar, either
I have never heard about blueberry coffee in Finland – and the “naminami” (yum yum) munkki doesn’t sound familiar, either

The menus in each cafe are a bit different, but all of them have cute “breads” (=sweet bread rolls) with Moomin characters on them. In all of the cafes, one can also enjoy (or “enjoy”) the Finnish Lapinkulta beer.

Moomins welcoming customers to come feel at home
Moomins welcoming customers to come feel at home

Visiting Moomin cafes is definitely interesting, no matter if you’re Finnish or not. If you don’t know what Moomin is, it will still be an experience. For me, the cafes were something familiar, yet something completely different from what we would have back home. The meals were kinda close to Finnish style food, but still very much like in other lunch cafes. The shops attached to the cafe sell more or less Finnish Moomin products for high prices, but at least some of the stuff (or Chinese versions of them) you can buy from other places as well.

Enjoy the Finland feeling and fall in love with Finland and the Nordic countries. From the land of lakes and snow
Enjoy the Finland feeling and fall in love with Finland and the Nordic countries. From the land of lakes and snow