We had a lot of fun last autumn baking Finnish pulla, but of course our first attempt wasn't nearly as pretty as our friend Heini's! Heini lives back in Finland now, but she kindly offered to come over for for a pulla-making workshop at our place with fellow pulla-fan Tash, when everyone was briefly reunited in Melbourne. Here are a few extra tips I picked up on the day.
First, Heini takes her time with the dough to mix it thoroughly. She adds the flour gradually, patiently stirring it to make a smooth, completely lump-free batter before the next round of flour goes in. She kneads in the butter with the same determination, scrunching it in with her hands and working the dough until it's got some stretch. You've really gotta get in there and get sticky!
When the dough's ready to roll, it's rolled thinly: it's worth persisting, even as it bounces back, until its around 4mm thick. A big, thin rectangle of dough makes for lots of spiral layers in the finished pulla. We already had the right technique for slicing the cinnamon dough roll into triangles (pictured above right), but our shaping needed a little finesse. The technique is to hold a dough triangle so that its longest side is on the bench and its shortest side is pointing upwards; press firmly on that top tip with both thumbs to flatten the roll. It's almost impossible to apply too much pressure; making a dent in the centre is usually a good thing (see photo above left).
Our kitchen's second batch of pulla were beautiful and bountiful: enough for snacking on the spot, sharing with friends and relatives, and freezing for more fun later. The overarching lesson was: there's no fear of overworking here! A firm and patient hand is the best way through every stage of the pulla process.