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The Irresistible Finnish Cinnamon Rolls: Pulla Recipe

Take one bite and you’ll understand why cinnamon buns are a staple of the Finnish cuisine!

The scrumptious and soft Finnish pulla is an everyday sweet treat here in Finland. It comes in many forms: twirls, rolls, braids, and butterfly-like shapes called korvapuusti.

The core is always the same: the sweet, buttered, cardamon-dotted bread dough. In fact, a good dough is the only secret behind an amazing pulla.

Baking pulla is super easy and cheap. You don’t even need a mixer!

The Story Behind This Pulla Recipe

I’m sharing the same pulla recipe which my mom wrote in my recipe book when I was 11. I’ve been using this recipe religiously ever since.

This small batch of Finnish cinnamon rolls is suitable for beginners because kneading a bigger dough may feel like a workout. 

You’ll make around 25 buns with this recipe. Empiric studies show that two adults and two school-aged kids eat that amount easily in a day. At least in this household.   

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In Finland, we use deciliters but I have converted the amounts to American cups. To avoid weird conversions like ”0,38 cups”, the American version is slightly bigger than the Finnish version.

I have put the names of the ingredients in Finnish. If you want to learn a bit of Finnish, this is a fun opportunity to do so!

The Finnish names are also handy if you are in Finland, and trying to find the ingredients in a Finnish grocery store.

So roll up your sleeves and be prepared for some kneading!

Ingredients to Finnish Cinnamon Rolls

Dough with Finnish measurements (Taikina suomalaisilla mitoilla)

  • 2,5 dl milk (maito)
  • 25 g fresh yeast* (hiiva)
  • 1 dl regular sugar (taloussokeri)
  • 2 tsp vanilla sugar (vaniljasokeri)
  • 1 tbsp cardamom (kardemumma)
  • 1 tsp salt (suola)
  • 75 g butter (voi)
  • z. 7 dl all-purpose flour or plain flour (puolikarkea vehnäjauho)

Dough with American measurements (Taikina amerikkalaisilla mitoilla)

  • 1 generous cup milk (maito)
  • 1 oz fresh yeast* (hiiva)
  • 1/2 cup regular sugar (taloussokeri)
  • 2 heaped tsp vanilla sugar (vaniljasokeri)
  • 1 heaped tbsp cardamom (kardemumma)
  • 1 tsp salt (suola)
  • 2/3 stick butter (voi)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour or plain flour (puolikarkea vehnäjauho)

Filling (täyte)

  • 2/3 stick or 75 g butter (voi)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (kaneli)
  • 1/4 cup regular sugar (taloussokeri)

On top (päälle)

  • 1 egg, whisked (muna)
  • pearl sugar (raesokeri)

*In Finland, you can buy fresh yeast (next to milk in shops) or instant yeast powder (in spices). Both work! Check the instant yeast package for the exact amount you should use for this amount of liquid. In Finland, this dough requires one sachet of instant yeast (11 g = 2 tsp).

Baking Instructions for Pulla

Add yeast to warm milk and mix well. Milk needs to be 99°F / 37°C to activate the fresh yeast. If you are using instant yeast, the milk should be 108°F / 42°C.

I heat the milk in a microwave and check the temperature with my finger. If the milk doesn’t feel cold or hot, it’s perfect for fresh yeast.

Whisk in sugar, vanilla sugar, salt, and cardamom. Stir in flour one cup at a time and a dough begins to form.

Use your hands to knead the dough in the bowl. It should become elastic. Add butter and continue to knead the butter in.

In total, around five minutes of kneading should be fine. Now you have a smooth dough ball in the bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel and leave in a warm place.

I often use a microwave, but off-mode! Preheat the microwave by heating a cup of water. Take the cup away. Then put the bowl with the towel into the microwave and leave to rest.

Wait for at least 30 minutes so that the dough rises. The dough should double in size. Put the dough to a well-floured surface and roll out into a 15×15 inch (40×40 cm) square.

Pulla recipe: cinnamon buns dough - Her Finnland blog

Spread softened butter evenly over dough. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top. Roll up the dough. Cut into 1/2 inch or 1,5 cm sections with a knife.

Pulla recipe: cinnamon buns dough flat - Her Finland blog
Pulla recipe: cinnamon buns dough cut - Her Finland blog

Place the cinnamon rolls on a baking tray covered with parchment paper. Cover them with a towel and let rise again for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 390°F / 200°C.

Whisk one egg and brush it to the tops of the cinnamon rolls to help them brown. Sprinkle pearl sugar on top. Then bake the rolls for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Allow the buns to cool a bit under a towel and eat immediately!

Pulla recipe: Finnish cinnamon rolls and moomin mugs - Her Finland blog

Have you baked Finnish cinnamon buns yet?

PS. If you love pulla, check my tutorial for Finnish winter buns with whipped cream and jam!

Looking for more Finnish recipes? Check out some of my other Finnish food posts:

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About Varpu
I’m the founder of Her Finland. I love cultural tidbits, aha moments, Finnish folklore, and cinnamon buns. My newest interest is learning bird songs. Read more about me..

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Jimmy

Thursday 28th of July 2022

Kulla Varpu:

I love pulla, really love it. I prefer a straight forward recipe as my tastes are quite simple. I live in Northeastern Minnesota, an area once largely populated by Finnish immigrants. So pulla was served at each coffee table and surprisingly similar. Ironically, my wife is of German descent and bakes a very fine pulla for me. Her mother, who used to live in Superior, WI, would make a pulla for me each time she learned I was coming down to visit. I had a serious stomach problem about 20 years ago and doctor's orders, no more kahvia. I still can't turn down a fresh cup of kahvia w/kerma however. But I still love my maitoa and a large glass goes great with pulla ja paljon voi.

And korppu too! Dunk in the kahvia.

Nakemiin,

Jimmy Saranpaa Orr, MN USA

Varpu

Tuesday 2nd of August 2022

Hei Jimmy! Thank you so much for sharing, I loved reading your story. Pulla is the best! I sometimes have it with a glass of milk too. Delicious!

Jeff Smith

Monday 6th of September 2021

Have made these twice now in the last few weeks while New Zealand is in lockdown. Today I added fresh orange zest with the cinnamon, sugar, and butter. Maybe not traditional but turned out fantastic. Kids at home means the pulla disappear so fast.

Kiitos!

Varpu

Wednesday 8th of September 2021

Hei Jeff! That sounds super delicious, I'll have to try it too the next time I'm baking pulla. Kiitos!!

Sara Liggett

Sunday 30th of May 2021

My sister lives in Finland and gifted me Northern Flavors. This recipe although a bit different is one I’d like to try. I love cooking and baking, hence the gift. Hard to convert all the recipes. Thank you for converting into American measures. I am going to try to make these as they are her favorite.

Varpu

Friday 18th of June 2021

Hei Sara, awww thank you so much for letting me know. I have a hard time converting recipes too so that's why all my recipes include conversions <3. Pullas are so good!

Justin

Sunday 31st of January 2021

Hi Varpu,

Tried making this and my dough didn't rise as I expected. I'm not sure the butter you wanted to add into the dough are suppose to be clarified butter, softened butter or just cold butter. I added softened butter but I felt the coldness remaining might have stopped the yeast from acting.

Gotta scrap and try again.

Varpu

Sunday 31st of January 2021

Hei Justin, thank you so much for sharing! Baking with yeast can be tricky, when I started baking I almost always made my liquid too warm, so the yeast would not work. In this recipe, butter is added as the very last ingredient, and yes, softened butter is great! Love that you are excited to try again! Let me know how it goes!

Willa

Sunday 17th of January 2021

I am really delighted to read this web site posts which includes plenty of valuable information, thanks for providing these kinds of information.

Varpu

Friday 22nd of January 2021

Thank you so much!

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