Finnish “Pulla” – Sweet Cardamom Rolls (gluten free!)


Recipe by Pia Rowe.

Written by Karen Swan.

I have this friend. Her name is Pia.

She’s Finnish.  She’s gorgeous.  She makes AMAZING food.  Even better, she adapts these traditional Finnish recipes and turns them into gluten free masterpieces.  We have one of those friendships born out of having children at around the same time, that soon went beyond the usual ‘mummy friendships’ and became a friendship based on our Mothering and our own lives and experiences as Women.  Actually, we met at a MamaBake session!

We are blessed that our children adore each other and it’s not unusual to see our play dates stretching out to 6 hours long!  One particularly ideal Saturday, not so long ago, the children played in their imaginary world, and Pia and I chatted, nibbled on her gf, vegan, cheesy crackers, and read cookbooks; our food, endless coffees and magazines strewn across her kitchen table. (we joked that the kids were so absorbed in their play we could probably have a little sleep and they wouldn’t notice!).

Then these little beauties came out.  I swooned.  I ate 7.

“Pulla” is the Finnish word that can apply to any and all sweet bread.  A little like a brioche, but scented with delightful cardamom.  You know a recipe is a traditional Finnish one when one of the ingredients is “hartshorn”, which is , as Pia explains:

“I believe these days it’s pure ammonium bicarbonate – in the olden days it was made out of the oil somehow extracted from the horns of moose combined with ammonium bicarb”.

No Moose horn oil extracting for me thankyouverymuch, so I’m pleased to see that Pia has replaced it with good old baking powder!

I adore these buns and, given the option, would like to have at least half a dozen available to me at all times.

Try them and you will too!


1 cup cold milk
1 tablespoon psyllium husks
1 sachet dry yeast
1/5 cup sugar
1 teaspoon GF baking powder
1 teaspoon cardamon
pinch of salt
50g soft butter
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
450ml (that’s 1 + 4/5 cup)  plain GF flour.

Egg to glaze and pearl sugar* for the topping.


Mix psyllium husk with cold milk and let it stand for 10 minutes. Mix in yeast, sugar, baking powder, cardamon, salt, butter, mascarpone and most of the flour. I did this in the Kitchen Aid with the dough hook. Apparently you can’t overwork this dough. Mix in rest of the flour and knead for a bit longer.

This dough will stay sticky. It is not be one you can knead by hand on the table, it will stick everywhere.

You can either put the dough in a piping bag and pipe little balls on an oven tray, or use very wet hands and a scraper spatula thing-y to form little balls.

The original recipe said that they will hold their ball shape better if you put them in a silicone muffin tray. I skipped this step since I don’t have any and didn’t think to use my normal muffin tins instead.

You’ll get either 8 big ones or 16 small ones (I think I had about 9). Cover with a light kitchen towel and leave to rise for an hour. Since it was so cold at our house this morning, I turned the oven on to 50 degrees for a bit, then turned it off and put them in there for an hour, otherwise I’d still be waiting.

Once they have risen, glaze with a lightly beaten egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar. *You can buy pearl sugar at international deli’s but the coffee crystals you can get from normal supermarkets are just fine, as is coconut sugar.   Alternatively you can also sprinkle some normal sugar on top, or skip the sugar and use flaked almonds instead.

The original recipe said oven 250c for 8-10 minutes, but that would’ve been way too hot for my oven. 220c (fan forced) for 8 minutes worked well for me. Cool down under a kitchen towel to keep them moist.

Serve with hot coffee and good friends.  Although, if one of those friends is Karen from MamaBake HQ, you’d be wise to hide a few if you want to get a look in before she eats them all!







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