Weekends are just the right time for cooking something requiring a little more attention. This weekend, we'll be making some Pulla. Pulla is a Finnish coffee bread which means it is something suitable to serve with tea or coffee. It is a slightly sweet yeast bread with a healthy amount of Cardamon in it for flavour. When I make it I usually put in more Cardamon than the recipe calls for. It's almost impossible to have too much. Cardamon is something I don't use all that often but I do enjoy. But is it quite pervasive in other cultures, and can be found quite inexpensively in the East Indian spice section of your local grocery store. This recipe uses the convenience of a bread machine to do the work of making the dough for you. So....it's hardly any work at all.
There is a bakery, where I grew up in Thunder Bay, that has made this bread for many years, along with quite a few Finnish housewives I imagine. I was once told that Thunder Bay has the largest community of Finns outside of Finland. I don't know if that still holds true today, but there is a strong Finnish community in that area, with Finnish restaurants, Bakeries, import stores, and public Saunas. Growing up, it was a real treat to go with my family to Kangas Sauna where we would rent a family sized sauna room, and sweat it out! It was not until I was much older that I realized public saunas do not exist in this fashion in most other cities. When you checked in at Kangas and got your room key, you walked down the hall (much like a hotel) and found your room. Once inside there were generally two rooms, the sauna room and the change and shower area with sink, toilet, a place to hang clothes and curiously a sizable padded bench. Another Finnish hot spot is the Hoito. It is another experience not to be missed if in Thunder Bay. They serve up hearty Finnish meals for a good price. Always popular with the university crowd. If you do go there try something different and order some Piirakka, and their rice pudding is also nice. Kangas Sauna and the Hoito are both still in business today, as far as I know, and if you are ever in Thunder Bay, they are somewhere well worth the visit. Aside from having the family sauna experience, Kangas serves up the Very Best Finnish Pancakes you've ever tasted. Served with strawberries in light syrup and whipped cream, they are to die for. Now these are not to be confused with North American pancakes they are a thousand times better. The closest thing to them is a Dutch Panacoeke. In my house we make Finnish pancakes for breakfasts quite often for weekend breakfasts. But I digress......I best go and made some bread.