July 16, 2011

Spelt pulla - Finnish cardamom buns

There are some classic recipes one should not try to modernise. Pulla, or Finnish bun, probably falls into this category, and there is no doubt some people who are orthodox about this sweet, cardamom spiced treat, would not consider my version to be called 'pulla' because it is lacking some essential ingredients. All Finns are supposed to learn to make pulla from a very young age and most of us grow up in a household where fresh pulla is baked at least every fortnight.

I have taken the classic recipe and made it my own. I've replaced plain wheat flour with whole spelt and used olive oil instead of butter. Does it work? Yes. Does it taste like pulla? Yes! These are soft and sweet, just like they are supposed to be, and they have a distinct cardamom flavour. Cardamom is the most quintessential flavour in the dough, so everything else in this recipe, give or take, you can experiment with, just please don't leave cardamom out!

 Spelt pulla
(makes 20-25)

500ml warm milk (42C)
22g dry yeast
300g whole spelt flour

1 large free-range egg
80g raw caster sugar
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
600-800g whole spelt flour, extra
150ml olive oil

1 large free-range egg, extra, for brushing
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, for topping
2 tablespoons rapadura sugar, for topping

1. For the starter, mix the dry yeast with 100 grams of the flour, then stir the mixture into the warm milk. Add in the remaining 200 grams of flour and stir well to combine. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for 15-20 minutes or until the starter is bubbly.

2. Stir in the egg, sugar, cardamom and salt and start kneading in the flour. Once the dough feels soft and starts unsticking your hand, knead in the olive oil, followed by a bit more flour. Leave the dough to rest (in a bowl, covered with a tea towel) for 20-30 minutes.

3. Knead the dough lightly on a floured surface. Divide the dough into equal portions (about 20), then roll the portions into balls. Place the balls on two baking trays lined with baking paper. Cover the trays with tea towels and leave to rise for a further 20 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 180C. 

5. Brush the buns with the egg and sprinkle each bun with a cinnamon and sugar mixture. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack covered with tea towels.Serve warm with a glass of cold milk.

PS. Here is my mum's original recipe for the Finnish cinnamon rolls