A few days late, I’m posting my winter solstice poem about my annual solstice day activity: baking Finnish pulla (cardamom) bread. While I did bake some on solstice day, there were issues and – honestly – I’d had issues for years with the recipe I’d been using (from a famous Scandinavian cookbook author’s recipe). After searching high and low, I adjusted my recipe
(borrowing the chemistry* from a julekake recipe and ‘tweaking’ it) and finally have arrived at a working recipe! Yay!
I reach for the spice jar
and pour out a dozen cardamom pods to grind
down to a scented jumble.
I fold in the flour, then knead, raise and braid my bread,
sprinkling an ornament of sugar and almonds on the twisted loaves.
The musky ginger lingers on my warm hands;
sweet yeasty secrets are released by the heat of my stove.
Outside, everything lies encased in frozen pods, in ice,
waiting quietly for the other solstice to crack open
the living powder the world is made of:
my own powder — could I as easily know? I
put away my mortar and pestle.
The long night arrives at the season’s juncture
and the full spectrum shines elsewhere,
I turn away and snap off the yard light,
leaving buried, dark and cold,
the wind-junked souvenirs of December.
*Correct chemistry & recipe – sorry this isn’t much of a baking blog, but I thought I’d post this anyway.
1.5 c milk
.5 c sugar
.5 c butter
.5 c warm water
6-7 c all purpose flour
1 large egg
for glazing – additional egg, 1T water, and slivered almonds – .5 c
heat milk, sugar, butter and salt in med sauce pan – butter doesn’t have to melt. cool to 115 degrees and pour in mixer bowl. sprinkle yeast over warm water in small bowl and let stand for 5 mins or until yeast dissolved. Add yeast to milk mixture and add 3 c flour and cardamom. beat med speed for 3 mins. beat in egg. By hand, stir in 3 to 4 c flour or enough to make soft dough. Kneed by hand 8 to 10 mins. Note: I’ve used the mixer for this in the past but mixer tends to over mix.
Let rise in greased bowl, covered loosely, for an hour until doubled. Punch down and place on floured surface. Cut in half and divide each half into thirds. Stretch each third into 15inch ropes and braid three together for each of the two loaves. Loaves should be approx 10 inches. Let rise for another 30 mins.
Brush with a mixture of beaten egg and 1 T water. Sprinkle w/sugar and sliced almonds. Bake at 375 for 35 to 45 mins – internal temp to read 185 degrees or higher. Cool 30 mins then enjoy!