This recipe for a simple tea loaf is based on the foundation of all Finnish Pulla recipes. From here you can add spices, jams, icing, custards or fruit to make endless varieties of this delightful afternoon tea staple; but this original, lightly sweetened golden loaf is a simple delight to make and share with friends over a cup of tea, or more traditionally, ultra-strong black coffee.
You can start this in the morning ready for afternoon tea. If there is any left, day-old Pulla is ideal for Bread and Butter Pudding.
250ml tepid milk
100 grams of raw caster sugar
2 packets of instant/dry yeast
125 grams of soft unsalted butter
2 teaspoons of ground cardamom (plus a small amount of seeds, crushed roughly for texture and extra punch)
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of salt
650 grams of plain flour
Use the dough hook tool on your mixer. Combine milk, sugar and yeast in your mixing bowl. Allow to activate for 5 minutes. Add the softened butter, egg, cardamom, cinnamon and salt and combine. With the mixer on low gradually add the flour until combined. Once the dough comes together you can kneed by hand until you reach a soft elastic dough, although I use the mixer to do this with equal results – approximately 5 minutes in my mixer.
Once smooth and elastic, allow to rest for a couple of hours until at least doubled in size.
Divide the dough into three portions and roll into long sausages about 40 cm in length. Once you have the three lengths, place them side by side on your baking sheet and gently press the ends of the three together to join. Beginning with the left, gently plait the pieces of dough together, gently joining at the end. Once you’re finished fold the joins underneath the main loaf.
Brush with beaten egg and dust with pearl sugar and set aside to rise for another 30 mins to rise. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.
Allow to cool and serve just warm. I love it with slightly salted butter, an extra dust of ground cardamom and a cup of the darkest Finnish coffee on the side.
Nothing beats a classic.