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.

Wellington

The trip from Nelson to Wellington was rather nice, with a few hours in the cute harbour town Picton, where the ferry across the Cook strait left from. The ferry trip, lasting almost 4 hours, was very much like the ones we have from Helsinki to Tallinn, the only differences being that on this route the water was distractingly clear blue, there was no drunk people and no tax free. Winner winner! We arrived in the capital city of NZ, population 204,000 just in time for the night market. Shuttle bus from the ferry to the train station, another bus to the hostel, and I was hungry for some street food.

Cruisin' to the North.
Cruisin’ to the North.

I read somewhere that Wellington is like the Melbourne of New Zealand, and I did see some similarities: loads of culture, events, street art, hip cool cafes, trendy restaurants. I enjoyed the night market vibes and a waterfront walk before heading to bed in another noisy snoring dorm.

Laneway with hip Soda shop and artisanal chocolate factory. Melbourne vibes!
Laneway with hip Soda shop and artisanal chocolate factory. Melbourne vibes!
Kids skipping.
Kids skipping.

Good thing about cool cities on the weekends is the markets. In the morning I ventured to 2, walking pretty much across town on this quest. Not really knowing what to do, I decided to invest in Weta Workshop tour, giving me more insight in the movie industry and the opportunity to see how the hell they made Lord of the Rings. The tour was very inspiring and interesting, and the temptation to take pictures was almost unbearable! I learned a lot about behind the scenes in such a short time, and seeing Sauron’s costume and weapon, as well as the other weaponry right there in front of me was pretty incredible. The old fangirl in me woke up instantly.

Trolls greeting at the door of Weta Cave.
Trolls greeting at the door of Weta Cave.
King Theodore's armour.
King Theodore’s armour.

After the tour and driving around Miramar and the lovely bay (and stalking Peter Jackson’s house by the sea), I decided to go to the Museum of New Zealand. 4 floors of exhibitions, I was exhausted and overfilled with information afterwards. There was another night market on, and the Chinese New Year fireworks and celebrations. I desperately
needed to charge all my electronics. Next morning, off to Rotorua.

Wellingwood, the heart of New Zealand's movie productions.
Wellingwood, the heart of New Zealand’s movie productions.

Healthy fare Melbourne

After hitting all the cafes I mentioned here, one should definitely check out the following clean eating spots while in the mecca of all things food, aka Melbourne.

Clean Eats and Treats (non cafe)

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The best airport snacks I didn’t get to enjoy; the glass bottle smashed on the floor. Sadness.

Green Press, Little Collins Stret, CBD

This little shop offers cold pressed organic juices, raw treats, smoothies and clean lunch options. They’ve created their own version of a donut, made with pumpkin and almond meal. My favorite juice: Captain Planet with blue green algae, coconut water and grapefruit.

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Ex salad master of Laneway Greens waiting for her smoothie.

Laneway Greens, Flinders Lane, CBD

This small salad bar on Flinders Lane should make the cut to any list of salad bars, great lunches, healthy food, smoothies, and value for money joints. I might be a bit biased to talk about this place since I was part of the team from day 1, but at least I can say that they really ARE what they preach. No cutting corners, all clean and hearty fare, big enough portions to save some for later, and smoothies that are the best money can buy. I can’t recommend any one salad, since all of them are to die for, but the Miso Salmon would probably be my favourite, along with the Seared Tuna. All dressings are made in house, with no extra sugars or additives. You can also get your smoothie bowl and chia pudding fix at LG, or grab a fresh pressed juice to go. 

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Glass box of pure goodness at Pana.

Pana Chocolate, Church Street, Richmond

This little chocolate shop on Church Street sells the most delicious handcrafted raw treats you can find. In addition to their chocolate bars, Pana sells different slices, pops (think ice cream pops but made from chocolate, coated with nut crumble), truffles and such. Guilt-free indulgence at its’ best! 

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Guilt-free lamingtons. Nom.

Terra Madre, High Street, Northcote

Not a cafe or a quirky small independent artisan shop, but the best shop for all things organic, natural and eco-friendly. Fresh veggies, breads and eggs, huge bulk section full of nuts, seeds, flours, spices and dry cooking things, and everything you could imagine buying for your kitchen (and bathroom). Cheap cheap, too!

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Bulk goodies at Terra Madre.

Yo-Chi, several locations

Froxzen yoghurt to the win! They usually have one soy option and one coconut-based option for vegans, otherwise the flavours speak for themselves: how about rose, matcha or mango? The various toppings seal the deal. Other great sweet tooth fix: Frozen froyo on Chapel street and Melbourne Central. 

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Nordic Food Co. selling homey goodies in Alma Park on Saturdays at the Hank Marvin Markets.

Markets: Queen Victoria, South Melbourne, Prahran – and pop-up markets such as Hank Marvin

Fresh seasonal veggies and fruit, delicatessen and anything you might need for a picnic in the park, the markets are my go-to place when it comes to weekly shopping or being ingredients for a dinner with friends. Best hummus in the world: South Melbourne market, Steve’s Deli. You can also find coconut cheese from South Melbourne market! 

Melbourne cafes

Melbourne is definitely foodie’s paradise, and for someone who comes from the world’s leading coffee consumption country, the plethora of out of this world cafes and roasteries is mind boggling. When coming to Australia, I chose Melbourne as my base from the get-go, and a year after I am glad I did. During the 12 months I spent in the coffee capital the world, I did go through quite a few delicious spots and dishes. Here are a few of my favourites.

Cafes
There’s plenty of great breakfast and brunch spots in most of the neighbourhoods, and I preferred to explore and venture to new spots instead of going to the same ones several times (though some were just too good to leave just for one visit).

Proper iced coffee.
Proper iced coffee.
Hipster interior design in Patch.
Hipster interior design in Patch.

Patch, Bendigo street, Richmond
One of the best feeds in Melbourne. All options are more or less paleo and gluten free, with a lot of variety. Go for the pancakes or the Caveman, a plate with a bit of everything. They make paleo bread in house, which is completely perfect in texture but in my opinion could definitely use some herbs or even salt.

Paleo waffles. Nom.
Paleo waffles at Patch. Nom.

 

Admiral Cheng Ho, Johnston Street, Abbotsford & Monk Bodhi Dharma, Balaclava
Two lovely vego cafes who have true passion for coffee. You can choose from 5 different beans for your coffee of choice, and enjoy a delicious and healthy breakfast or lunch while at it. Lunch specials on the black board, menu staples include amazing mushroom dish and a delicious acai bowl with superfoods like lucuma and maca.

Umami mushrooms, Admiral Cheng-Ho.
Umami mushrooms, Admiral Cheng-Ho.

 

Little Big Sugar Salt, Victoria Street, Richmond
In the heart of Little Vietnam, this quirky cafe is hustling and bustling with hipsters getting their fix from this cafe with the best menu ever. And by menu I mean the actual menu paper, with jokes, classified ads and even a recipe for their divine pancakes. Try at home? It’s good for glu-tards, cow-tards and fructose-free-ks.

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Code Black Coffee, Brunswick
This coffee roastery has another branch in North Melbourne, but I went only to the Brunswick one. They have a nice twist on the classic cafe staple, smashed avo, served with kale pesto and pistachio chia dukkah. Throw a poached egg and some goat’s feta in the mix and wash it down with freshly roasted and ground coffee, and you’ve experienced the ultimate Melbourne brekkie experience.

Mother of all breakfasts, Code Black Coffee.
Mother of all smashed avos, Code Black Coffee.

 

Industry Beans, Rose Street, Fitzroy
Another in-house roastery coffee shop, another industrial interior and guaranteed wait on weekends. Smaller and larger plates, either to share or devour on your own. More lunchy options besides your stable bircher, chia pudding and eggs. Delicious teas, too!

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Bonus: Hot chocolate at Hash, Hardware Lane, CBD
This drink is an experience, and probably the most delicious hot chocolate you’ve had. 80% Mörk hot chocolate (made in Melbourne) in a glass jug, to be poured over a mug full of fairy floss aka cotton candy. Watch the chocolate melt the fairy floss and make the concoction sweet and deeeeeelicious.

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Melting fairy floss with chocolate, Hash.

Holiday in Western Australia

It is self evident that I am an advocate of traveling. Having spent over half a year within the borders of Victoria (although there is heaps to see in the state alone), I figured that it would be nice to get around to see Australia a bit more, and most of all take a selfie with the world’s happiest animal, the quokka, who inhabits Rottnest Island just outside of Perth in Western Australia. Not too bad way of spending Christmas!

Quokkas having a sneaky snack.
Quokkas having a sneaky snack.

During my one week long getaway to Western Australia I learned that one should not travel during holiday season, if it is any way possible to be avoided. Somehow I did not think it would be that different, but as it turns out, rental car prices were triple to normal, and the accommodation availability everywhere south of Perth was non-existent. As one could imagine, having to pay extra for things and having a bit of a struggle to organise things doesn’t allow you to relax as you should on holidays. Therefore, from now on if I travel on holiday periods (which is very likely), I will try to book as much as possible in advance, and try not to move around as much. I shall embrace the fact that everything is closed on Christmas Day, and prepare myself to eating only nuts and crackers for a day.

Sunset at the Pinnacles
Sunset at the Pinnacles

The magnificent stone formations in Nambung National Park just a few hours drive North from Perth are rather magical for sunset, sunrise, full moon and any time it is not packed with tourists (go late or early and get the park for yourself!). These limestones that now poke out in the sandy desert were once seashells in the water, which were broken into sand and blown inland, forming oddly dunes. Since the 1960s, these rocks attract over 250 thousand tourists a year. The pinnacles are pretty much in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by ghostly small towns, but if you want to get them at their best, you should sacrifice one night for the trip. On the way to the pinnacles from Perth, Yanchep National Park makes a good pit stop.

Fremantle, or Freo, looks quite like New Orleans.
Fremantle, or Freo, looks quite like New Orleans.

I fell in love with the relaxed seaside small town atmosphere of Fremantle, just twenty minutes outside of Perth. The architecture is beautiful, there are loads of restaurants and small shops, and the weekend market is lovely. When visiting Freo, I would recommend eating seafood at Kailas fish and chips, right by the pier. And of course Rottnest island and aforementioned quokkas are a must!

Like being on a tropical island
Rottnest, like a tropical island
Busselton jetty at dawm, when the tourists are gone and the fishermen are enjoying the peace and quiet.
Busselton jetty at dawm, when the tourists are gone and the fishermen are enjoying the peace and quiet.

When going south of Perth, there are plenty of small towns, beaches, and all kinds of (mostly marine life) activities along the way to Margaret River, the promised land of wine, local delicacies and products. Busselton, with the longest wooden jetty in the Southern Hemisphere (whoa!), is a nice town to stop and take a stroll 2kms out to the sea and maybe a sneaky plunge in to the water, too.

A jetty so long it has a train.
A jetty so long it has a train.

Margaret River is rather nice, if you like wineries, beaches and such (who doesn’t?), but during the holiday season it is crammed and the atmosphere is very touristic. On another occasion it might show a completely different side, but for now I can say that I am glad I went, and I was glad to be back in Melbourne.