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Finnish Pulla | A festive, braided Christmas bread

Finnish Pulla Bread

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This Finnish Pulla Bread is the quintessential holiday bread.  This Braided Yeast Bread Recipe is formed into a festive wreath. Flavored with cardamom, your family will request it every Christmas to come!

Finnish Pulla | A festive, braided Christmas bread

Finnish Pulla

A wreath tied up with a bow. How appropriate for the week before Christmas! This week’s Tuesday’s with Dorie recipe was for a Finnish Pulla, a lovely yeast bread recipe flavored with crushed cardamom seeds. The scent of the baked loaf was sublime, definitely aromatherapy at its best.

Using my KitchenAid mixer with a dough hook, the bread dough was a snap to prepare. Braiding required a bit more concentration. How is it that I can plait hair with my eyes closed, but 3 strands of dough perplexed me???? Well, finally got through that, snipped off the ends and formed a ring with the braid.

Finnish Pulla | A festive, braided Christmas bread

Tips for Making Your Holiday Yeast Bread Recipe

Beatrice Ojakangas, the contributing baker, had the brilliant idea of making a bow with the excess dough to cover up the seam. Well, I thought she was pretty darn clever till I tried to make a bow out of dough! I muddled through and it looked darn good going into the oven (save some striations in my strands, but I AM my own worst critic).

The dough was glazed with a mixture of egg and milk and then sprinkled with sugar. Pearl sugar was suggested, but since I didn’t check my supplies till after I started baking, I just used some demerara sugar, a large-grained brown sugar. And the results were a glossy bread with a touch of glittery sugar. Exquisite. Sweet, sparkly bread which is perfect for the holidays!

Holiday Yeast Bread Recipe ready for the oven on a baking sheet

Finnish Pulla can be found on page 106 of Baking with Julia (affiliated link) by Dorie Greenspan.


Finnish Pulla | A festive, braided Christmas bread

Finnish Pulla Bread

A holiday braid flavored with cardamom from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan

Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Yield 1 loaf


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water (no hotter than 110 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon crushed cardamom seeds (from 7 to 12 pods, depending on the size)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature, beaten
  • 4 ½ to 5 cups (22.5 - 25 ounces by weight) all purpose flour
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg + 1 tablespoon milk, for glaze
  • Sliced almonds
  • Pearl sugar


  1. Grind 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder.
  2. Place a small saucepan over medium heat and add the 1 cup milk. Scald the milk, so small bubbles are just visible around the edge. Remove the pot from the heat and cool the milk to around 110º Fahrenheit.
  3. While the milk is scalding melt the 1 stick butter in the microwave.
  4. In a large bowl, add ¼ cup warm water (around 110º) and whisk in the 1 tablespoon active dry yeast. Set the yeast/water mixture aside for at least 5 minutes. It will become creamy.
  5. Once the water/yeast mixture is creamy, whisk in the 1 cup scalded and slightly cooled milk, ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds, 1 teaspoon salt, and the 2 beaten eggs. Whisk until fully combined.
  6. Now, using a wooden spoon, add 2 cups flour to the bowl. Beat the mixture until smooth. Vigorously stir in the 1 stick melted butter. Once the butter is incorporated, add in the additional flour, a ½ cup at a time, until the dough is fairly stiff. Stop adding flour before the dough becomes dry.
  7. If you wish, you can also use a stand mixer with a dough hook to mix the dough. Follow the directions in the same order.
  8. Once you have your dough mixed, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for about 15 minutes.
  9. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough until smooth and shiny, about 10 minutes. Add a bit of additional flour if needed. This is where I added my last ½ cup of flour or so.
  10. You can also knead the dough in the mixer with the dough hook at medium speed. It may only take about 8 minutes or so, depending on your machine.
  11. Shape your dough into a ball and lightly grease a large bowl. Turn the ball of dough in the bowl to lightly coat in the grease. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place. Let the dough rise until it is double in size. This will take at least 45 minutes, but could take over an hour.
  12. Cover your baking sheet with parchment paper.
  13. Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out of the bowl onto a cool, lightly oiled surface.
  14. Knead the dough briefly to release the air. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Weigh the pieces to ensure they are equal, or close to it.
  15. Roll each of the three pieces into a log about 36 inches in length.
  16. Now, line the logs up next to each other and pinch them together at the top. Braid the 3 pieces into a log braid. Carefully move this braid to the parchment lined baking sheet, forming it into a circle onto the sheet. Cut an inch or two of dough off each end and fuse the circle together. Knead the cut bits together and shape into another small log. Form into a bow and place the bow over the seam of the wreath.
  17. Loosely cover your bread with a towel and let rest and rise at room temperature for about 45 minutes. Don’t let it double in size.
  18. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375º.
  19. Whisk together egg and milk for glaze. Brush the egg glaze all over the shaped dough. Sprinkle the dough all over with sliced almonds and pearl sugar.
  20. Bake the loaf for 20 to 25 minutes. The top will be just golden, and the bottom of the loaf will be very light. Be careful not to over bake the bread.
  21. Transfer the baked loaf to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature before cutting into the bread.
  22. To store, cover the loaf in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature. Or, wrap tightly, so the bread is air tight and freeze for up to a month. Thaw the bread at room temperature.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 239Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 38mgSodium: 161mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 2gSugar: 9gProtein: 7g


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47 comments on “Finnish Pulla Bread”

  1. Your Christmas wreath looks lovely – and flawless – Liz. Congratulations on another gourmet creation =)

  2. I saw this on your instagram and fell in love with it there and am now falling in love all over again. How beautiful!!!! You did such an amazing job.

  3. I struggled with the braiding too though I can braid my hair with no problem!! Mine was, ahem, a “twisted” loaf rather than braided. But still delicious!

  4. Lovely looking wreath. I am with you on the dough bow…I felt like a bread shaping clutz at that point! Yours turned out great though. Happy Holidays!

  5. The wreath looks so beautiful and delicious, perfect for Christmas!

  6. Lizzy,
    Your bread wreath is amazing, and so perfect. Almost to pretty to eat, almost.

  7. I’m truly captivated by the pretty photos

  8. I like your wreath, it´s chubbier and very neat! And I like brioche like striations, I think it speaks of a pillowy bread. I don´t know how I managed to have pearl sugar in my pantry. Have a great day Liz!

  9. Absolutely beautiful, Lizzy!! I am so lame I kept trying to tie the bow…duh!! Only now do I see!! LOL!

  10. Well done on the lovely job. I braided mine and gave up at the bow bit.
    It was a perfect bread for this time of year.

  11. Your wreath looks beautiful and i love this little bow added to the top. I’ll have to remember that when I make one. I haven’t seen this recipe in Dorie’s book but will go check it out. Nothing is better than the smell of bread baking in the kitchen along with all the other fragrant dishes during the holidays.

  12. That is very pretty!! Love that you can do such beautiful braiding with dough!

  13. Beautiful loaf! It took me a minute to remember how to braid – and the bow – well, not as pretty as I had imagined. I wear tennis shoes daily! How could I not form the perfect bow? This is a lovely loaf to say the least! ~Happy Holidays!

  14. Your bow looks great (along with your photo)! I just gave up. You have such a nice chubby wreath!.

  15. Oooooh SUCH PRETTY PRETTY bread! This is SO perfect for Christmas time too and I bet it smelled ahmazinggggg!

  16. Lizzy,
    this was definitely the best aroma therapy I had in the kitchen 🙂
    You’ve baked a beautiful wreath and its bow is amazing … (psst, don’t tell anybody, but I’ve totally missed the “bow-thing”…probably I did not read the instructions till the end… Ups!)

    Have a wonderful Christmas time

  17. This is a work of art, Liz. A delicious work of art. 🙂

  18. It is just stunning. I saw the pre oven pic on facebook which was promising. Great braiding, you got the hang of it 😉

  19. How pretty is that? I love this AND the best part, I HAVE that book! This is a nice bread to wake up to on Christmas Morning, I can just imagine waking up to that wonderful aroma of bread baking (this is a perfect opportunity to figure out my oven timer!) You did a beautiful job, Liz, bow and all. Merry Christmas!

  20. It looks gorgeous! There’s something so special about a braided loaf.

  21. Beautiful Finnish pulla, I love it. I need to make it.

  22. Liz, your wreath looks awesome…absolutely gorgeous and perfect for the Holidays!
    Have a great week 🙂

  23. Your Finnish Pulla looks wonderful! Lovely braid!
    It’s just perfect for Christmas breakfast!
    Happy Holidays!

  24. Liz, the pulla is so beautiful and festive. Stunning photography.

  25. Liz, you know how I enjoy these Dorie installments, this one being no exception. I have to wonder, if you had simply closed your eyes and pictured three hefty locks of hair in your hands instead of dough, that tentative feeling would have escaped you. Besides, by photographic accounts, you nailed it! Christmas at your table will be special with this Finnish Pulla…may your holiday be merry and bright.

  26. Liz, you’re such an amazing baker. This pulla is gorgeous! There’s no way I’d have been able to braid dough into such perfection. Happy holidays!

  27. I had a hard time with the braiding as well! It is so different from braiding hair. But your braiding looks perfect! And your pulla turned out wonderfully!
    Your pictures are really great too!

  28. What is that? I have never seen such beautiful braided bread. Sometimes I wonder if you have the same oven that we have in our home. Your baked goods are so perfect. I wish I was your neighbor and can at least smell the bread.

  29. Liz, your bread looks divine and your pictures so Christmas-y. Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas!

  30. Your Pulla looks wonderful. Will be making it soon. Look forward to it.


  31. Funny thing I baked Pulla as well. Your wreath looks incredible and that bow brought it to entirely a different level. So true I couldn’t be more articulate “aromatherapy” 🙂 Merry Christmas Lizzy!

  32. it looks picture perfect! Beautiful and so delicious! Don’t know how you do it:)

  33. that looks just beautiful! wow…big time now.
    I had to also make a braid around the cornucopia for Thanksgiving…my goodness…not as easy as braiding my hair.. yours looks way better.

  34. This is so beautiful, I love the wreath shape!

  35. This is so pretty!! And I love that first photo!

  36. so so gorgeous, you are such a talented baker!!

  37. Liz, what a picture perfect sweet dessert bread wreath and the bow does look wonderful. The sprinkling of the demera sugar seeems to have been a very good substitution for the pearl sugar – it looks nice and a bit crunchy – a very festive post!

  38. Your bread looks gorgeous! Yes, the braiding was a challenge – I really had to think what I was doing.

  39. Gorgeous, Liz! Love the photos – Merry Christmas to you & yours! 🙂

  40. My mom was from Finland but never made this, looks lovely!!

  41. I love your Finnish Pulla, and the bow looks perfect! This bread sounds truly delicious, Hugs, Terra

  42. Very pretty loaf and beautiful pictures!

  43. I stumbled upon this recipe and I love it. I’ve been making another iteration by Beatrice Ojakangas, but this one turned out perfect. I actually made 5 small braids for gift giving from each batch. Thank you. Merry Christmas!

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