Sunday, May 27, 2012


May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

But really, the mandatory item was to make an enriched bread which is braided or shaped, so I took this opportunity to make Pulla for the first time. Pulla is a braided bread, enriched with eggs, butter and milk, and flavored with cardamom. My husband's mom's family is from Finland, and although I've had pulla a couple of times over the last decade, but my husband fondly remembers his papa making it and having in the afternoon with his grandparents. So I thought it was about time I learned to make it myself.

When I was about ready to make this, my in-laws were moving house, so I didn't think it was the best time for me to ask for a recipe. Back when I first joined the Daring Bakers, we had made a yeasted coffee cake that had a similar texture to pulla, and Audax, one of the most active members of the group had suggested a recipe for pulla, the one I used for this challenge, with slight modifications.

recipe adapted from

2 cups milk
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 eggs, beaten
9 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 egg yolks, beaten

Warm the milk in microwave. In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Stir in the lukewarm milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, 4 eggs, and enough flour to make a batter (approximately 2 cups). Beat until the batter is smooth. Add about 3 cups of the flour and beat well; the dough should be smooth and elastic in appearance. Add the melted butter or margarine, and stir well. Beat again until the dough looks glossy. Stir in the remaining flour until the dough is stiff. Let rest for 15 minutes. 
Knead the dough until smooth and satiny, about 8 minutes with the stand mixer. Place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, and turn the dough to grease the top. Cover with a clean dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch down, and let rise again until almost doubled.
Turn out onto a floured surface, and divide into 2 parts. Divide each half into 4. Roll each piece into a 12 to 16 inch strip. Braid 4 strips into a loaf. Lift the braids onto greased baking sheets. Let rise for 20 minutes. Brush each loaf with egg wash. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes.

Now going over the recipe, I realize that I didn't let the dough rise twice, but without ill effects, as we thought this bread was close to being perfect! I used Ruth's method to braid the dough with four strands, which was way easier than anticipated, especially when singing the process to myself: over, under, over, next, over, under, over next... 

I made two loaves, and learned the hard way why you need to taper the ends of the dough strips: my second loaf came out pretty misshapen, with the middle being nice straight and skinny, and the ends being thick and round. I stuck it in the freezer so we could enjoy it later!

Way too sweet to eat it alongside a meal, I love it toasted, with butter, honey or nutella! Thanks for the challenge Ruth!

To see what other Daring Bakers thought of this challenge, check out the


  1. Beautiful challah and what a lovley photos :)
    Pozdrawiam, Anula.

  2. Wow! Totally impressive! You could make an amazing bread pudding with the mis-shapen loaf.

    If I made something this beautiful, I wouldn't want to cut it!

  3. That looks OUTSTANDING. I just pinned this so that I can try it super soon. Your braid looks perfect, and the crumb on that bread looks so inviting. Wonderful job!!

  4. Really nice pictures! :) it looks perfect :)

  5. I've got a recipe for this in my Dorie Greenspan book but haven't got around to making it. It just looks so stunning doesn't it? Great photos :)

  6. sublime travail!! je testerai avec plaisir cette recette et ce façonnage! merci pour ton passage et pour ton gentil commentaire! bonne soirée!

  7. What a beauty!!! Great photography too!! haha.. After the braided challah dough rose, it was soooo soft that I couldn't stop touching it! almost like a baby's skin! I love the way your challah texture turned out! Perfect! :)

  8. This looks SO good! I only recently discovered cardamom and I love it, so I think I need to try making some pulla soon... ;)

  9. lovely photos- great contrast between the creamy white bread and the golden crust. yum!

  10. It looks perfect indeed :) I love the color.

  11. Such lovely challah. Looks adorable with the little daisy!

  12. Absolutely stunning! I love the contrast of colors and textures!

  13. Beautiful crust. I had mine with nutella too :D

  14. I look forward to trying your Pulla, I just love the picture with the little flower
    Your pictures are always so beautiful
    Great job on this challenge as always Bourbonnatrix, I always look forward to seeing your take on every challenge

  15. What a lovely Challah it is !!!
    A job well done on the challenge.
    You have a lovely space here.
    Looking forward to visiting your page again....

    Cheers !!

  16. Thanks for visiting my blog, your challah looks totally professionally, very well done:)

  17. Beautifully done. My second one came out a little less than photogenis as well :-(

  18. Wow - this is stunning! Cardamom is delicious - I bet it added a fantastic flavour.

  19. Your pulla is wondrous, and I love the idea of adding cardamom, you did a great job.

  20. Your braided bread is so beautiful, so perfect, so delicious!
    Jolies photos! Merci pour cette nouvelle recette. j'ai très envie de la tester très bientôt.
    You did a fantastic job on this challenge!

  21. Such beautiful braids! I love the sound of the cardamom flavour. :)

  22. Great job! Your four straind bread looks beautiful.

  23. Omg, this bread is gorgeous! Some day, I will make bread ;)

  24. My parents made this growing up! Can't wait to try you recipe this evening!


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