This braided bread is a staple in Finland. It's a slightly sweet cardamom bread, and can be devoured warm, or sliced when cool. The recipe makes 3 large loaves or 6 small loaves.
In a small bowl dissolve yeast in warm water; let stand 5 min. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine 2 cups of the warm milk, granulated sugar, 2 tsp salt, cardamom, 4 eggs and 4 cups flour. Add the yeast mixture and stir for 1 min.
Stir in the melted butter and add the remaining flour, about ½ cup at a time while the mixer is on low speed. Dough should pull away from the bowl when enough flour is added. Let dough knead for 5 minutes on low. Cover and let rise until double in bulk, about 1 hr.
Turn mixer on low again and knead dough for 30 seconds. Remove from bowl to a floured work surface. Divide dough into 3 balls.
Starting with one ball, divide it into 3 smaller balls for a total of 9. Roll each into a long rope, 14-to-15-inches long, about 1½ inches in diameter. Cut these ropes in half to make enough for 6 small loaves (18 ropes), (or leave them long to make 3 large loaves.)
Pinch the ends of the 3 ropes together and begin to braid. At the end of the braid tuck the tips under the loaf and pinch to secure. Transfer loaf to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining balls of dough.
Loosely cover loaves with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, 45 min to 1 hr. Heat oven to 375ºF.
Whisk together remaining 1 tsp salt, 1 egg and 2 tbsp milk. Brush each loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with Swedish pearl sugar and sliced almonds. Bake until deep brown and cooked through, 18 to 20 min. Cool slightly and eat warm. Bread will keep airtight for up to 3 days.
Pulla Bread is a staple in Finland. Soft and aromatic with cardamom, the loaves get a sprinkling of traditional pearl sugar and almonds to make it special.
• The Harris family makes this recipe into 6 small loaves. The perfect size for gifting. Simply divide the dough into 6 pieces instead of 3 and make the braid ropes half the length.