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Pulla: Traditional Finnish Sweet Bread

Pulla: Traditional Finnish Sweet Bread

Tricia Martin | Chef's Blade

The unexpected but remarkable friendships and connections I’ve experienced since starting this blog have enriched my life beyond anything I ever expected. It really is the most remarkable thing about the internet – being able to connect with people who you would never in a million years been able to do so with – and certainly not quite so easily, either.

There are honestly about five blogs I look at and read fairly regularly — I have a lot more on my google-reader, but I get really overwhelmed when I turn that thing on, so I end up never turning it on! Instead, I mostly rely on my memory to hand-type in a handful of favorite sites I visit a few times a month, see what they are up to, and to say hello. I know, I know — it’s bad blogger etiquette to not read more fellow bloggers sites and comment — but that can get furiously overwhelming, so I simply do it when I can.

One of the blogs I visit regularly is Pattern Bakery. They are a group of four designers, Salla, Maria, Miia, and Minttu, best known for patterned designs and illustrations sold for the interiors, fashion, and paper industries. They are based in Finland, but sell their patterns and textile designs world-wide. Each year, these four talented women come out with a new collection based on color themes and moods. Their studio in Helsinki, Finland is in an old nostalgic wooden house that turned out to actually be an old grocery and bakery. “A house with a history of freshly baked bread and pastries keeps inspiring our work (and our tummies).” That would certainly inspire me too! It was reading this that I realized I had found a group of kindred spirits across the Atlantic.

Minttu is the group’s lover-of-food. She’s known for conjuring up heavenly meals at a moments notice — and then blogs about it on the Pattern Bakery’s blog. A few weeks ago, she posted about her mother’s Pulla — a traditional Finish sweet bread spiced with cardamon. I have a special affinity for Pulla because my best friend Kiija and I used to make it as girls with her grandmother Aune, who was Finnish. Or Kiija’s dad would make loaves and loaves of it to stock the freezer with — I felt like we were always snacking on a piece of Pulla while at her house — it was the best.

I am fascinated with the stories that food conjures up. And knowing that Kiija and her dad share a deep love and regard for this family flavor and ritual, I wondered if Minttu shared similar feelings. So, I emailed her. And she emailed me back the most fantastic story ever, about her family’s Pulla. Her mother had learned to make the Pulla shaped like this from her Mother-in-law, who was from Ingria, a land attached to Russia. Her great grandfather did some work for the last czar of Russia, and the czar’s children were very fond of the Finnish Pulla her great-great grandmother would send them as a treat! “So maybe this special shape has been passing along the generations and is the same the last tsar’s kids ate,” writes Minttu. Amazing! Minttu and her cousin have agreed to keep this family tradition alive and well by shaping their Pullas like this from now on. Pulla can come in many shapes from a large braided loaf to shapes like little boys and girls with raisin eyes—but the woven circle will be a special one for Minttu and her family. So neat!