This Swedish Cardamom Bread is a great bread for the new bread baker with a special herbal, citrus character. It makes two delicious loaves, but the dough is excellent for cinnamon rolls, too.
I always feel so accomplished when I can say that I baked my own bread.
There really isn’t much that is more rewarding than making your own bread. And nothing compares to how it makes your house smell – especially this sweet scent of Cardamom Bread.
Plus, the dough also makes incredible cinnamon rolls. This recipe makes two loaves. Feel free to make one roll of bread and use the other half for cinnamon rolls. This recipe comes from the book Scandinavian Gatherings by Melissa Bahen.
What is Swedish Cardamom Bread? What is Pulla?
Cardamom bread, Finnish Pulla or nisu is a type of braided sweet bread or pastry flavored with cardamom.
It is extremely popular among Nordic countries (Sweden and Finland).
What Does Cardamom Bread Taste Like?
Cardamom is very strong and aromatic. It has a slightly herbal, spicy, citrusy flavor that goes well with orange or warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg.
There are two ingredients in this Braided Cardamom Bread that you might not have on hand but are worth having in your spice cabinet and pantry.
Gather together whole milk, sugar, butter, instant yeast, flour, sea salt, ground cardamom, eggs and pearl sugar.
Cardamom. The first, not surprisingly, cardamom. Cardamon is a spice that is used in a lot of European baking, particularly Scandinavia. I love it and have been using it more and more. It’s wonderful in Swedish Cardamom Buns, too.
Pearl Sugar. The other is pearl sugar. Have you ever had a liege waffle or one that has some crunch in it? The crunch is from pearl sugar. I bought pearl sugar from King Arthur Flour, but have also seen it in the grocery store. You can find it with the sugar, but on the top shelf.
Tip: If you don’t want to buy it, you can use sugar cubes. Put the cubes into a Ziploc bag and crush them with the back of a big spoon. You want chunks, so be careful not to completely crush them.
How to Make // The Steps
Making homemade bread might seem hard, but it really isn’t. It is really more about being patient than anything. A few simple ingredients, and some time, yield loaves of the most delicious bread.
This Finnish pulla bread can be made in the stand mixer or by hand. Simply:
- Add 2 cups milk and sugar to a small saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Whisk until combined and add butter.
- When the butter has melted, remove from the heat and stir in yeast. Let cool until the mixture is the temperature of a warm bath. Too cool and the yeast will not activate, and too hot and the yeast will die. I use a thermometer and like it to be in the 100° to 118° range. You will know that your yeast has activated when bubbles begin to form.
- While the yeast is cooling, add 2 cups flour, salt, cardamom, and one egg to the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached.
- Pour the milk mixture into the bowl and stir until combined.
- Put in 3 more cups of flour.
- Stir until completely incorporated.
- Add the remaining cup of flour, a little at a time.
- Stop when the dough forms a ball and is no longer sticky to the touch.
- Transfer the dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. I like to go an extra step and put the bowl inside of an extra large Ziploc bag. It creates a draft-free rising environment. Let rise until doubled, about one hour.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board. Punch the dough down, knead by hand for one to two minutes, then let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°.
- Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. (I weigh the dough using a kitchen scale and then divide the weight by six to get the correct amount of dough.)
- Roll the pieces into a skinny rope about 15 inches long.
- Line up three pieces of dough and pinch the top together. Braid the three pieces into a loaf. Pinch the bottom and tuck underneath. Repeat with the other three ropes.
- Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Make an egg wash by whisking the remaining egg and one tablespoon milk. Brush the sides and top with wash and sprinkle pear sugar all over.
- Bake the loaves for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool before slicing.
What Makes This Cardamom Bread So Good?
As mentioned, nothing beats homemade bread. I make this on lazy weekend afternoons because:
- It’s great for a new bread baker as it’s very forgiving and versatile.
- Two special ingredients expand your baking repertoire.
- It’s a double-duty dough best for bread and cinnamon rolls.
I make a batch of this bread on Saturday, bake one loaf and reserve the other half of the dough for cinnamon rolls the next morning.
In Finland, the bread is traditionally served as a treat with coffee or tea.
The bread is wonderful lightly toasted with butter. The cinnamon roll version gets a heavy dose of sweet glaze when they are fresh from the oven.
How to Store
Leftover bread makes wonderful French toast. But it also freezes beautifully wrapped tightly in plastic wrap for up to 1 month.
Simply defrost for a few hours on your countertop and rewarm in a low oven.
More Bread Recipes //
- Cinnamon Twists
- Cinnamon Swirl Bread
- Orange Sunshine Coffee Cake
- Almond Breakfast Rolls
- Panettone Muffins
- No-Knead Challah
Originally published in January 2018, updated December 2020 with updated images and updated recipe card.
If you make this recipe, I’d love to know how it goes! Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, too!
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Thursday 9th of March 2023
OMG, this bread is the best! I am not an experienced bread baker and it came out so light, wonderful and tasty. Everyone loved it. I also ground my own cardamom seeds. It makes a big difference.
Friday 17th of March 2023
That's great Deb! Ground cardamom takes the cake—or in this case, the bread—for a heavenly homemade delight!
Friday 22nd of October 2021
So glad this recipe is here still! Back to making it again this year! I am using a combination of fresh cardamom seeds and ground. I am using closer to 2 Tablespoons though. We love the flavor! ❤️
Wednesday 3rd of November 2021
Love this! So glad that you love it.
Sheet Pan Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Apricots | Baked Bree
Monday 15th of March 2021
[…] Braided Cardamom Bread […]
Wednesday 17th of February 2021
Huge recipe. Ended up with three large loaves of bread. Best cardamom bread I've made. Easy recipe the flavor wasgreat. I used whole cardamom pods. Crushed them and removed tiny seeds. Ground the seeds in spice grounder. The best flavor so far. I added one more egg a bit more sugar and little extra ground cardamom.
Thursday 18th of February 2021
Fresh cardamom is so worth the effort. You can buy the seeds out of the pod but not ground, and that has been a game-changer for me.
Monday 14th of December 2020
This is a great recipe, and super easy to make. My hubs is Finnish and grew up on this bread so I was glad to find this. I’ve made it 3 days in a row and panicked the day Bree’s site was down keeping me from accessing it. She was so responsive and got it up and running quickly!
Tuesday 15th of December 2020
I am so glad that you love it so much. I love it too. The house smells incredible when it is baking. And sorry about that. I broke my site by accident that morning and my host had to fix it for me. Never good timing for something like that to happen.