Finnish Nisu (Pulla) Bread Roll

8 mins read

Leigh Moss

In 1905, my grandmother came to the United States when she 5 years old from Finland and grew up in Michigan. This Cardamom-flavored bread is a common Nordic bread and is also called Pulla. In my family we called it Nisu, which I understand is an old Finnish word meaning “wheat.” This was her hand-written recipe, which she made many times for our family. We usually had it around Easter time when I visited my grandparents’ house. 

Prep time: 4 hours   Bake time: 30 minutes     Yields: Makes 3 loaves 


2 cup milk

1 yeast (cake or dry)

10 to 15 cardamon pods

¾ cup of butter (melted)

1 cup of sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp of salt

6 ½ to 7 cups of flour

1/8 lb. of sliced almonds


            •           Heat milk to scalding but not boiling

            •           Add sugar and cool to lukewarm

            •           Add yeast that has been dissolved in ¼ cup of warm water and 2 cups of flour & salt – beat using mixer.

            •           Let stand while crushing cardamon seeds

            •           Add cardamom seeds, butter, eggs, and again beat with a mixer.

            •           Add the rest of the flour using mixer as long as possible.

            •           Then knead by hand

            •           Put dough into 3 parts

            •           Put into greased bowl and then turn dough in bowl to grease top.

            •           Cover with towel and let raise for about 3 ½ to 4 hours in a warm place

            •           Divide the dough into 3 parts

            •           Put into greased pans, cover with towel and let raise about an hour.

            •           Brush with sugar water and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.

            •           Remove from oven and place on rack to cool

            •           Brush immediately with sugar water twice and sprinkle with sugar

            •           After dividing dough into 3 parts if you wish you can braid into loaves; otherwise, just shape into loaves.


            •           ¼ to 1/3 cup of sugar and scant ¼ cup water

            •           Stir until sugar is dissolved


            •           2 tbsp of butter

            •           1 cup of confectionary sugar

            •           ½ tsp of vanilla extract

            •           2 tsp of milk

            •           1/4 cup toasted almond slivers


            •           In a small bowl, mix together butter, sugar, stir in vanilla, milk and mix 

            •           Spread frosting over cooled NISU

            •           Sprinkle the Almonds for Decoration and taste to the Bread surface.

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