Pulla is a type of Finnish sweet bread made with ground cardamom as a key ingredient. It’s usually served with coffee or tea.
I decided to make vegan pulla – normally pulla is made with eggs, butter, and milk in the dough. Since our half-Finnish family has stopped buying eggs and real dairy products, we have been missing some of the old foods we used to eat, such as pulla!
So this version is made using vegan butter (I like to use the kind that comes in stick form, usually made with avocado oil or olive oil), and plant-based milk. No eggs, no weird egg replacements! It’s just an easy, sweet yeast dough.
One thing, however, you can’t leave out – the CARDAMOM! Ask me – I accidentally left it out when I was making this the first time. Without cardamom, they’re just buns. If you want to make pulla, you must use cardamom.
Bottles of ground cardamom can be found at most US supermarkets – look in the spices or baking section. The ground will be finer than what I show in the photo above. I am using ground Guatemalan cardamom from Finland – it’s a bit coarser.
You can also get cardamom in whole seed pods from Indian spice shops. You’ll want green cardamom pods, not black ones. Peel off the outer layer of the pod and take out the seeds, then you can grind them up for use in this recipe.
Optionally, you can add some pearl sugar on the top of your pulla. If you don’t have pearl sugar, I think sprinkling on regular organic sugar will be just as nice.
- Add the ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger to the ¼ cup of warm water, and in it dissolve the 1 teaspoon of yeast plus a spoonful of the ½ cup sugar. Let rest for 5-10 minutes until bubbles form.
- Warm the 1 cup of soy milk in the microwave or on the stove until warm but not hot. Melt the ½ cup of vegan butter for about 20 seconds in the microwave. Add them to the yeast mixture then add in the 2-3 teaspoons of ground cardamom, ½ teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and the rest of the ½ cup of sugar.
- Add in the 5 cups of flour, one cup at a time. (You may need to use slightly more or less flour depending on the humidity in your home.)
- Cover the dough and let it rest in a warm place until it has almost doubled in size, about 30-40 minutes.
- Roll the dough into a thick disk and divide into 16 equal slices. Roll each slice up loosely from the narrow corner to the thicker edge, then gently press the seams and roll into a ball. Place with the seam side down onto a parchment baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Cover the pulla doughs with a damp kitchen towel and let proof in a warm place about 15 minutes. I put mine in a cupboard or inside the microwave to proof, with a cup of hot water.
- For the glaze, melt about 2 tablespoons of vegan butter with 2 tablespoons of soymilk and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Brush the pullas with the glaze once all over. Add another brush of glaze to the top of the pulla and immediately add a sprinkle of pearl sugar.
- Bake the vegan pulla buns for 12 minutes at 350° Fahrenheit (175°c). They are light golden brown when done. Try to let them cool before eating!
- In this recipe I use all-purpose flour. You can also make it with unbleached wholegrain flour such as atta flour but traditionally it calls for white flour. If using whole grain flour I would sift the flour first to remove any large pieces of chaff.
- In this recipe I use organic, unbleached sugar in granulated form.
- The pearl sugar I use is made from beet sugar, which is vegan. I buy mine when I’m in Finland but you can also find it on Amazon. Pearl sugar is the best for making waffles, too!
- I have made these vegan pullas successfully with my own recipe for vegan butter as well as these brands:
- An alternative way to make pulla is to divide the dough into four equal portions and form them into a type of braid before baking. This type of cardamom loaf is called lettipitko in Finnish. In America it’s more often referred to as nisu.
- You can use this same dough recipe to make other Finnish coffee breads such as korvapuusti (Finnish cinnamon buns), omenatäytepitko (apple-filled coffee loaf).