Nana's pulla

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10 min


1 loaf, 10 slices

* PLUS Rising Time: 120 minutes, Baking Time: 45 minutes

Elaine Kemp's Finnish grandmother, an incredibly strong and inspiring woman, moved to Montreal in the '30s. Elaine has managed to capture the memories and taste of her Nana's traditional cardamom-spiced braided loaf in an excellent bread machine recipe, which she makes about once a week. "But when I'm feeling blue, I just open up my jar of cardamom and the aroma brings back good memories."


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp quick-rise instant yeast , or bread machine yeast, or 1 tbsp instant yeast for completely handmade loaf
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp butter , at room temperature
  • 1 egg , beaten


  • Bread machine loaf (1 lb/500 g): Place ingredients, using 1-1/2 teaspoons yeast, in baking pan following manufacturer’s directions. Bake according to manufacturer’s directions using “light” or “sweetbread” setting. Use regular setting if your machine does not have these. Shake bread from pan. Cool on a rack.
  • Bread machine braided loaf (1 lb/500 g): Place ingredients, using 1-1/2 teaspoons yeast, in baking pan following manufacturer’s directions. Choose dough setting. When machine beeps, usually after about 1-1/2 hours, remove dough to a lightly floured surface. Punch dough down to remove most air bubbles. Let rest 10 minutes. Then, follow directions in point five of Handmade loaf, below.
  • Handmade loaf : Stir flour with 1 tablespoon instant yeast in a bowl. Stir in sugar, cardamom and salt. In a measuring cup, microwave 1/2 cup milk, uncovered, from 30 to 45 seconds, until quite warm to the touch but not boiling hot. Or heat in a small saucepan over low heat until quite warm, about 3 minutes. Stir in butter until melted.
  • Pour into flour mixture and stir just until absorbed (dough will be very floury and rough). Then, stir in beaten egg. If dough seems dry, stir in water, 1 tablespoon at a time; if it’s too sticky, stir in flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Turn out onto a floured surface. Knead until dough is very smooth and springy, about 6 minutes. Let dough rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes. This is all that is necessary for first rising.
  • Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet or coat with cooking spray. Cut dough into five equal pieces. Using your palms, roll each piece into a rope about 15 inches (38 cm) long. Take three ropes, pinch together at one end and braid. Place on baking sheet. Take remaining two ropes and twist, candy-cane style. Place this twist on top of the braided ropes. Pinch rope ends together and tuck under at each end of loaf. Let rise, uncovered, until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours. For a shiny top, brush with additional milk or beaten egg. Bake in centre of 375 F (190 C) oven until golden brown and a thump on underside of loaf sounds hollow, about 45 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and cool on rack. Bread freezes well.

Nutrition (per serving)

  • Calories
  • 192,
  • Protein
  • 4.9 g,
  • Carbohydrates
  • 33.4 g,
  • Fat
  • 4.2 g,