As far as 2012 goes, we are in the home stretch now. Your time to ponder on what you could've, should've and would've done with the year, has come and gone ... You should have already done that by now! Now, all eyes are on 2013 and all that remains for us to do is bring in the new year with hope, excitement, optimism and of course, a party!!
And for the last 'TWD : Baking with Julia' post of the year, the group has chosen the Finnish Pulla. The book describes it as a celebration loaf, apt for the mood of the season. In this version, it is braided into a wreath which fits in beautifully with the Christmas theme.
I was quite excited to try my hand at this bread because of its Finnish origin. For us in India, Scandinavia seems so far away. It's not the physical distance as much as how different the culture, the people, the climate, the landscape and the food is compared to ours.. it all seems so different and exotic to us. And am pretty sure, the feeling is mutual from their end towards India.
And yet, this Finnish recipe has a tiny Indian component, cardamom. Grown in abundance in southern India, cardamom is used extensively in Indian cuisine. I reckon, the spice trade of yore was responsible to taking it to Northern Europe. My guess is that coming from so far, it must have been considered exotic and used mainly for times of celebration, such as in this pulla. Do correct me if I've got it wrong!!
Much like the brioche dough that was used to make these sticky buns, this loaf is also made from an egg and butter-rich dough. Fairly simple to put together, the stand-out feature of the recipe is the addition of crushed cardamom seeds to the dough.
The dough performs beautifully and even clumsy fingers like mine could shape it into a wreath without much fuss.
Pull the bread out of the oven and you know you are onto a winner. This bread scores the maximum when it comes to its visual appeal. That beautiful, golden-brown crusted bread accompanied with the faint smell of cardamom looks so impressive that you can't help pat yourself on the back. That's the beauty of this recipe and the book that a novice like me can attempt this bread and actually pull it off!!
While the egg and butter keeps the bread soft and light, it also makes this bread a wee bit rich. It is slightly sweet tasting with the flavour of the cardamom shining through. Although a familiar flavour for me, I can well imagine the cardamom being an exotic taste for others. If you've never tried cardamom before, you are missing a good thing!! A piece of this bread would be ideal with your morning coffee!!
If you are an enthusiastic baker, keen on trying out new recipes, I'd recommend that you make this bread atleast once. It is definitely one to be added to your repertoire!
Due to copyright considerations, only the person hosting the recipe for the group 'TWD:Baking with Julia' can post the recipe on their blog. The recipe for this Finnish Pulla will be available on Erin's blog. Alternately, you can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will mail you the recipe.