TWD: Finnish Pulla

This week our recipe was a holiday treat!   A lovely loaf of cardamom-scented bread – not too buttery or eggy.  Some shaped their loaves into a festive wreath tied with a bow; I opted for small braided loaves – perfect for gift-giving!

The dough mixed up fairly easily and rather than knead it myself – I used my KA for most of the process.  I used I wooden spoon until I had added four cups of flour, then used my mixer as I added by tablespoon to get the right consistency.  While the recipe called for seeds from cardamom pods, I don’t have a spice mill or a mortar and pestle, so I paid the premium for ground cardamom.  I used a teaspoon of the ground and I think it scented the bread nicely without being too overpowering.  With the dough hook on my KA, I kneaded the bread on medium speed for ten minutes – never leaving the room as my mixer tends to be mobile at higher speeds.  The dough truly came out satiny and lovely.  I appreciated the short length of the two rises – it made it easy to make the bread in one leisurely morning or afternoon. 

I oiled a large piece of parchment paper and my hands for shaping the breads.  No stickiness at all!  After the second rise, I brushed my breads with an egg wash and sprinkled slivered almonds and a pretty gray crystal sugar on top.  The breads looked pretty and tasted good – just a hint of sweetness and spice.  I will definitely make these again for the holidays!  For the full recipe and beautiful pictures and directions, please visit http://www.thedailymorsel.com/2012/12/finnish-pulla/comment-page-1/#comment-8594, our host, Erin’s blog.

finished finnish pulla

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Tuesdays with Dorie: Gingerbread Baby Cakes

If you are looking for a unique gingerbread recipe with adult flavors – look no further.  This complex taste offers notes of coffee, molasses, and cocoa with the snap of ginger.  Find the recipe at http://karenskitchenstories.blogspot.com/.  This is a recipe that begs to be tweaked!  With the Tuesday chatter ringing in my ears, I made some adjustments to the recipe.  Finding myself without espresso powder, I substituted cocoa powder as suggested by another baker.  This definitely made the cake less gingery and gave a stronger taste of cocoa.  The other advice I got from the chatter was to cut back on the molasses.  The recipe calls for 2 cups – I used one and it was more than enough.  I substituted 1/2 c. of maple syrup and a 1/2 cup of strong coffee (make sure you fold from the bottom of the bowl to incorporate the coffee evenly throughout the mixture.  I also fudged on the pepper – a teaspoon seemed like a bit much – I gave it a few grinds of the pepper mill and left it at that.

I baked it as a larger cake for a party this weekend.  I plan to serve it with some whipped cream to make it more kid-friendly.  I made a real baby cake to sample – my husband and I enjoyed the complexity of the flavors and the girls thought it was awesome.  I’m not sure that I got the right combination of flavors – ginger should be a bit stronger I think.  I probably could have done without the coffee altogether or at least dialed it back substantially.  Maybe a 1/4 c. of coffee and 3/4 c. of maple syrup…despite the brown sugar and the maple syrup the cake itself was not overtly sweet.

I liked this recipe well enough to play with the flavors a bit in the future to find the perfect gingerbread!