Sweetness from Scandinavia

As we settle into autumn here in New England, it seems that everyone’s thoughts turn to home and hearth. The climate in both Boston and Scandinavia is rather similar, so it’s no surprise that Norwegians love freshly baked treats as much as I do—including pulla sweet bread. A day of discovering fjords, quiet villages, and colorful cities on our Norwegian Coastal Voyage & Lapland Cruise Tour should leave you with an appetite for these delicious loaves much-loved by locals.


Pulla

This sweet bread can be shaped into many forms—braided loaves, coiled cinnamon rolls, flat discs filled with jam, or little individual rolls studded with dried fruit. Similar to challah bread, pulla can be enjoyed with butter, preserves, honey, or any number of delicious accompaniments for a breakfast or afternoon snack that really fills you up.

Ingredients:

2 cups milk (any fat content)
1/2 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast (1/4 oz.)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cardamom
4 eggs, beaten
9 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup melted butter
Dried fruit or nuts, if desired
1 egg, beaten (for brushing on the dough)
2 Tbs. granulated sugar (optional, for sprinkling on the dough)

Preparation
  1. Warm milk gently on the stovetop; remove from heat when it is lukewarm.
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, eggs, and approximately 2 cups of the flour. Beat until the dough is elastic and smooth.
  3. Continue to add flour slowly, until you have added a total of approximately 5 cups. Dough should be glossy and smooth.
  4. Add melted butter to dough, beat well.
  5. Add the remainder of the flour, beat well until the dough is stiff.
  6. On a floured surface, turn out the dough, cover with the inverted bowl, and allow it to rest undisturbed for 15 minutes.
  7. Knead the dough until it reveals a satiny sheen.
  8. Turn dough in a greased bowl to cover the dough with a thin film of oil. Cover with plastic wrap (or a kitchen towel), and allow it to rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in volume.
  9. Punch down dough, repeat step 8.
  10. On your floured surface, shape the dough into approximately 24 balls. It is at this stage that you may choose to add fruit or nuts to your dough.
  11. If you want a braid: Divide dough into 3 equal pieces, and then divide each into three again. Roll out each dough section into a 12-16 inch rope, and braid, tucking both ends under.
  12. Gently move your dough to a greased baking sheet, allow to rise again for approximately 20 minutes. Brush with egg, sprinkle with sugar.
  13. Bake at 400°F for 25-30 minutes, making sure not to burn the bottom.
  14. Serve warm, with jam, cream, honey, or other accompaniments if desired.

Serves: 8