Many people have been asking me for the recipe of “pulla” or the delicious Finnish cinnamon rolls I’ve mentioned a few times on the blog. The word pulla basically refers to any kind of sweet pastry made from this particular dough which makes the most moist and delicious cinnamon rolls you’ve ever tasted. Pulla and especially korvapuusti, the cinnamon rolls made from it are very popular in Finland. Pulla could be called the ‘ultimate coffee bread’ because Finns always serve some variation of pulla pastries with their coffee. Read about the quirky traditional way of drinking Finnish Coffee and eating your pulla in this post: Saudi Dude’s Guide To Finnish Coffee Drinking Ceremony.
Korvapuustit, the Finnish cinnamon rolls, translates to “ear buns” because of their appearance which resembles an ear. When folding the buns one pinches the dough in the same manner as when giving a child a korvapuusti, meaning pinching their ear if they were naughty.
What makes the Finnish cinnamon rolls special is the delicious, fluffy dough which is made into milk, using fresh yeast and lots of ground cardamon giving it a unique taste and appearance. The filling is rich in taste but less messy and not overly sweet like the american version of cinnamon rolls (think Cinnabon). The dough is rolled, cut and moulded in a specific way before baking to complete the typical look of a korvapuusti. You can even make a “cake” with the cinnamon rolls called “Boston Cake”, which is basically cinnamon rolls loaded into a baking tray.
There are many variations to the recipe out there and over the years I’ve made some small adoptions I found makes the rolls as fluffy and moist as possible! I always make the dough into milk because I think it makes the result more moist, but they are delicious if made with water as well. If available, I will use fresh yeast to make them. If anyone knows where to get it in Saudi please do let me know!
Another important factor is the cardamon. It has to be roughly ground, so that small black parts can be seen and of course free of any residue from the pods. Yet another spice I haven’t been able to find in Saudi-Arabia, they only seem to have finely ground cardamon which looks like a powder. After trying and testing, I can say this won’t work well in the pulla. After a few failed attempts of crushing the cardamon seeds myself and sifting the pods out, I continue to bring my cardamom from Finland. This is what it looks like:
When making the dough the temperature of the liquid has to be carefully measured for best results. I always use a thermometer to check. For fresh yeast it needs to be a bit warmer than your hand temperature, +38c and for dry active yeast +42c for the yeast to “awaken”. This way the dough will raise the best. The pulla is actually raised on two separate occasions before baking! If the liquid was too hot the yeast will die and the dough will become like a heavy rock. If the milk was too cold it will take many hours if not until the next day to properly raise. The dough should double in size before you start baking. Make sure all the ingredients are room temperature too!
So here are the ingredients for approx 25-30 korvapuusti depending on what size you cut them. (PRINTABLE RECIPE AT THE END OF THIS POST)
FINNISH CINNAMON ROLLS
5 dl milk
50g fresh yeast or 15g active dry yeast
2 dl sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp roughly ground cardamon
150g unsalted butter or baking margarine
12-15 dl flour
for the filling
100-200g butter or margarine
brown sugar (white works fine too)
Start with warming up the milk in a bowl in the microwave. Make sure the temperature is right for the type of yeast you’re using, then dissolve the yeast into the milk until the liquid is clear of clumps. Add the sugar, salt, cardamon and egg and mix well with hand whisk.
Next start adding the flour by first whisking in about 5-6 dl in to make the dough airy. Then mix in 5-6 dl more into the dough by hand. Knead well. Now add the melted butter and continue kneading. Lastly add just enough flour to make the dough come off from the bowl, but not too much, otherwise it will make dry buns that won’t raise well. It should be soft and easy to handle.
Leave it to raise covered in a warm, draft-free place. I use the top of the oven or inside the microwave is good too because there’s no draft. The dough should double in size in about half hour to an hour if the yeast has had optimal conditions. To speed up the raising time you can put the oven on very low heat (30-50c)and place the bowl there or place a cup of hot water inside the microwave.
When the dough has doubled in size take it out and start kneading it again thoroughly. Divide it into two sections. Take one and start rolling it out into a thin layer. Next spread a layer of soft butter all over the dough. Then sprinkle some sugar, again using your own taste of how much you want to add. I sprinkle generously! Next sprinkle plenty of cinnamon on top to cover the rest of the filling and for cardamon lovers you can sprinkle a little bit additional cardamon too.
Start rolling the dough from the top toward you trying to make the roll as tight as possible and leave the seam on the bottom.
Now cut the roll into pieces with a knife into shapes like this:
Then take each piece and press your index finger in the middle so that the “ears” of the roll pop out. Then press gently on the ears so that the top stays closed.
Place them on a baking tray on a baking sheet to raise in a warm draft-free place while you do the next batch. When the korvapuusti’s have risen to about double their size use the beaten egg to swipe them and decorate with pearl sugar. If you don’t have pearl sugar you could use large-grained sugar. Bake in 200C for about 6-8 minutes or until golden brown from top.
Enjoy with a nice cup of coffee or cold milk! The rolls are delicious even the next day, just pop in the microwave for 10 seconds (if you have any left at that point)!
here is the printable recipe:
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Hello there! I’m Laura, the founder of Blue Abaya- the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia, established in 2010. Travel has always been my passion- so far I’ve visited 75 countries and I’m always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia! Follow my adventures in Saudi and beyond on instagram: instagram.com/blueabaya