Pulla (Scandinavian cardamom coffee bread)

Ingredients

  • 1 package (2 1/2 teaspoons) of traditional dry yeast (not rapid rise)
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of warm water (115 degrees F / 46 C)
  • 2 1/2 cups of bread flour* and then another 2 cups (*not all purpose flour)
  • 1/5 oz can of evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup crushed ice - add cold water to fill up 1/4 cup
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 4 tablespoon light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons of cardamom seeds, freshly ground
  • 1/2 cup of very soft butter
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons of water
  • 1 splash of coffee
  • 1/4 cup of coarse sugar (Rae Sokeri imported by Viking Foods)

Equipment

  • standing mixer with bowl
  • thermometre
  • measuring spoons
  • measuring cups
  • oven
  • saran wrap
  • brush
  • baking sheet or wide bread pan
  • pizza stone
  • water sprayer

Prep time:

150

Yields:

50

Cook time:

1 loaf

Recipe attribution:

Elain Evans

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, add warm water (use a thermometre to ensure the water is the correct temperature) then sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and yeast. Let the mixture sit for about two minutes and the yeast will begin to bubble - if it doesn't your yeast is old and won't work. 
  2. With the paddle attachment of the mixer on low/medium speed, beat in 2 1/2 cups of bread flour and the evaporated milk. Beat for a further 5 minutes. 
  3. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes. 
  4. Change the mixer paddle for the dough hook. Add the ice and water, sea salt, 4 tablespoons of brown sugar and egg yolk. With the mixer on a low setting combine the ingredients and add the remaining 2 cups of bread flour. Mix for 5 minutes. 
  5. While the machine is working the dough, combine the ground cardamom seeds with the soft butter. 
  6. On the mixer’s lowest setting, add the butter. This bit can get messy. You may need to stop the machine to stop the dough from lurching out of the bowl. Sprinkling some flour over the dough helps the butter combine and avoids spillage. The dough will just come together, yet still soft. Add some more flour if needed to bring the ball together. 
  7. Oil around the bowl and dough. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and leave in a warm place to rise for about 1 1/2 hours. 
  8. When the dough has doubled in size, punch down and knead in once. 
  9. Place the dough on a countertop dusted with flour, divide dough in 3 pieces. Cover with saran wrap and let rest a further 15 minutes. 
  10. Roll the three pieces out and braid. 
  11. Brush the dough with the egg, water and coffee that have been beaten together. 
  12. Grease a baking sheet or if you like a taller loaf, a very wide bread pan. 
  13. Leave the dough on the baking sheet for about an hour or until doubled in size. 
  14. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees - put a pizza stone on the middle shelf of the oven. 
  15. After 10 minutes, decrease the heat to 375 degrees then place the pan on the pizza stone in the oven. 
  16. Spray the oven door with a fine mist of water before closing. Bake for 30 minutes, remove and baste again with egg mixture then sprinkle on the rock sugar. 
  17. Bake a further 15 or 20 minutes until done. Loaf will sound hollow when tapped. 
  18. Cool loaf. If desired, drizzle a thin mixture of icing sugar and milk over the loaf once cool.

On using ice water in the pull arecipe, Elain adds: 

"You start with warm liquid for the yeast as usual to get the yeast activated, but just before kneading adding ice water lowers the dough temperature, as dough makes ideal gluten at 75 degrees but kneading (especially when using a machine) raises the temperature 8 or 9 degrees (and the average kitchen is already at the mid 70s) so by lowering the temperature before kneading means you will finish at the perfect temperature. Ice water ensures better water absorption and gluten development, more so than chilling the dough in the fridge would. 
Happy baking."