I love a good plan.  My life is full of them . . . and lists and spreadsheets and to-do’s.

So when a spanner is thrown into my planning works, I have a tendency to get a little jumpy and anxious when things are in jeopardy.

My plan this Christmas was to trial run a few Finnish Christmas treats (to surprise my Finnish father-in-law, who was visiting baby Mélanger for the first time), then bake a few favourites on Christmas Eve (THE day to celebrate Christmas in Finland).

Good news is I successfully completed all my trial runs.

Bad news is on the morning of Christmas Eve, we blew a fuse and knocked out all the electricity in the house.

Not only did we have two fridge/freezers plus a deep freeze FULL of food, but more importantly, we had no oven!

Whilst Mr Mélanger and his father were out off to stock up on ice (if we needed to transfer food from the fridges), I was aimlessly staring at the kitchen completely puzzled how I was going to complete my festive baking tasks.

No electricity also means no internet, and no way to look up the name of an electrician.  So after a few “phone a friend” calls to my mum and sister-in-law, we manage to gather a big list of electricians in the area.  With luck, we finally managed to contact someone who not only answered their phone on Christmas Eve, but actually turned up to the house at the stated time.

In the end, we were about 6 hours behind schedule, and with a deck full of company arriving in only a few short hours, I did manage to whip up a batch of Joulupulla for my father-in-law for our well deserved afternoon coffee break.  The smell of the bread baking immediately brought back memories for him, and he eagerly taste tested these almost straight out of the oven.

For my trial batch (the images shown here), in addition to the traditional cardamom flavoured Joulupulla, I also created a saffron flavoured bun as a little nod to the old Swedish influences in Finland.

{ Joulupulla :: Finnish Christmas buns }

This is really just a basic pulla dough shaped into the special festive shape.  I have made pulla more times than I can remember, and I have ultimated adapted this recipe from a few different sources (Beatrice Ojakangas, the Nordic Bakery Cookbook plus my friend Celina Laaksonen).  My father-in-law mentioned his mother’s pulla was less sweet, but he preferred the extra sugar in this recipe.  So feel free to experiment!

* Ingredients *
250ml whole milk
7g active dry yeast
85g caster sugar
3g salt
7g ground cardamom (or to taste)
1 egg, beaten
450g-500g plain flour
75g butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, beaten to glaze
Sultanas/raisins to decorate

* Directions *
Warm milk in a small saucepan until it comes to the boil, then allow to cool until it reaches about 45C.  In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk.  Add one teaspoon of sugar and let stand for 5 minutes until yeast foams.  To the yeast, stir in the remaining sugar, salt, cardamom, egg and enough flour to make a batter (about 150-200g).  Beat until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add half of the remaining flour and beat well.  Add the melted butter and stir well. Beat again until the dough looks glossy. Stir in the remaining flour until the dough is stiff (you may not need all the flour).  Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface, cover with an inverted mixing bowl, and let rest for 15 minutes.  Knead the dough until smooth and satiny.  Place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, and turn the dough to grease the top.  Cover with a clean dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.  Punch down, and let rise again until almost doubled. About 1 hour.  Turn out again on to a floured surface, and divide into 12 parts weighing about 80g each. Roll each piece into a 15cm strand. Then, with a sharp knife split both ends one third of the way towards the centre.  Then curl up each of the ends.  Place the buns onto baking sheets lined with greaseproof paper. Let rise for 30 minutes.  Brush each bun with egg wash and dot with raisins/sultanas in the curled ends.  Bake at 180C for 15-18 minutes. Check occasionally — because the bottom can brown easily.

Makes 12 buns

:: Yeastspotting ::
I am submitting this Joulupulla to Yeastspotting.