Sweet Almond Rolls

The most typically Finnish pastry is pulla, a yeasted sweet bread that comes in various shapes: small round buns, swirly cinnamon rolls, and braided loaves and knots. The dough has plenty of cardamom in it and the rolls are often topped with slivered almonds or pearl sugar for some sweet crunch. The smell of cardamom and yeast that fills our apartment when the dough is rising instantly takes me back to childhood – that is the fragrance of a true home in my mind. This time I decided to fill my rolls with almonds and walnuts instead of the usual cinnamon, but the shape is traditional – it resembles an ear, and accordingly the Finnish word for cinnamon rolls literally means “a slap on the ear” (korvapuusti).


I added a few pinches of saffron in the dough for a yellow hue. Saffron is usually only used on special occasions, in Christmas and Easter baking, and I have to admit that I actually prefer my pulla without the taste of saffron.

I placed the dough in the fridge after the first rising, and let it come to room temperature on the next day before shaping the rolls. I think that the slow second rising really made a difference, since this was definitely one of the best pulla batches I’ve ever baked – the dough was soft and pliable, very easy to work with and nice and tender after baking.

The Pulla Dough (makes 12 almond rolls):

  • 3 dl warm soy milk
  • 25 grams fresh yeast
  • 3 and 1/3 dl wheat flour
  • 3 dl whole spelt flour
  • 1 dl raw cane sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 50 grams coconut oil, warmed until liquid
  • 1/2 dl canola oil
  • (a few pinches of saffron threads, finely ground – optional)

I heated the soy milk to 37 degrees Celsius, as warm as my hand. Then I diluted the yeast and the sugar in the water, and then added the salt, saffron, and cardamom. Now, I poured in the wheat flour, and stirred briskly with a wooden fork for about 3 minutes. I added the coconut oil and the spelt flour, and kneaded for a few minutes.

Now I added the canola oil and kneaded it in the dough, then placed it on the working surface and kept on kneading until the dough was smooth and didn’t stick to my hands any more. I let it rise, covered and in a warm, draftless place (which in this case was our oven) for a few hours, until it had just about tripled in size, then shaped it back to a round log again and returned in the bowl, covered the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it slowly rise in the fridge overnight.

In the morning I removed the bowl from the fridge and let the dough come to room temperature for a few hours. Then I rolled it out with a rolling pin into a rectangular sheet a bit less than one centimeter thick.

The Filling:

  • 3/4 dl or 5 tablespoons almonds
  • 3/4 dl or 5 tablespoons walnuts
  • 1/2 dl muscovado (whole cane) sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
  • 50 grams margarine, softened

I just mixed the almonds, the walnuts, and the sugars in our mini food processor until they were coarsely ground together. I spread the margarine on the dough sheet and sprinkled with the filling mixture.

The Shaping of the Rolls:

Now I rolled up the dough sheet tightly into a log, starting from the longer side:


I used an unserrated knife and sloping cuts to cut it into triangular pieces, like so:


I placed the rolls on a baking sheet, the wider side downwards, and pressed down the centers with my fingers, so that the cut sides bulged out:


Now I placed the baking sheets in a warm place, covered them with a kitchen towel, and set the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Now the dough got to have a third rising for about 40 minutes, until the rolls had almost doubled in size.

The Topping:

  • 1/2 dl water
  • 1 tablespoon plain soy yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon syrup of choice
  • pearl sugar and chopped almonds

I whisked the water, soy yoghurt and syrup together, and just before baking I brushed the rolls with the mixture, and sprinkled with almonds and pearl sugar.

Finally, I baked the rolls on the middle rack of our oven for 10 minutes, until nicely browned over the top.


  1. Posted May 6, 2009 at 14:04 | Permalink

    These sound HEAVENLY!!!

  2. Posted May 6, 2009 at 14:58 | Permalink

    Amazing! I love cardamom and I’m always trying to find new ways to use it. And also, I think it’s great that Finnish has one word that means “a slap on the ear”! :)

  3. Posted May 6, 2009 at 19:20 | Permalink

    I love that picture with the coffe mug!It looks so cozy!

  4. Posted May 7, 2009 at 02:18 | Permalink

    these sound delicious – I’ve just discovered your blog and love your recipes and photos – hope to make some of them

  5. Anni
    Posted May 7, 2009 at 08:51 | Permalink

    Thanks for the sweet words, Shelby!

    Jo – the word is actually a compound, two words joined together (we have a lot of those in Finnish language), and the first part (korva) means “an ear”. The second part (puusti) is only used in this word though – I should really find out the etymology behind it!

    vw – those are my favorite coffee cups! Although we rarely drink coffee, I just couldn’t keep myself from brewing some to accompany these rolls.

    Johanna – you’re most welcome to our blog, I hope you enjoy!

  6. Posted May 7, 2009 at 08:59 | Permalink

    I’m in love with your blog – the recipes are so interesting and unique, and the pictures make the food seem so cozy (does that make sense?). I especially like the adaptations of traditional Finnish food. I’ve made a couple of your recipes and have enjoyed all of them so far.

    Just a quick question – is there a way I can substitute vanilla sugar with something else? I don’t think it exists where I live.

    Thanks! Keep the good food coming!

  7. Anni
    Posted May 7, 2009 at 09:23 | Permalink

    Angela – thank you so much, I think cozy is just what I’m aiming at with the pictures! I’m not much for styling food, so it’s nice to know a homey feeling comes accross.

    You could most definitely use 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract instead of the sugar, or even make vanilla sugar of your own – simply scrape a vanilla bean and mix with very fine granulated sugar, and you can then bury the whole pod in the sugar jar for maximum flavor. For us, commercial vanilla sugar is much easier to find than vanilla extract, but in the North America it must be the other way around!

  8. Posted May 8, 2009 at 02:52 | Permalink

    Now, I could absolutely have a go at these. I’d be afraid to because I am pretty sure I’d eat the entire batch! Looks absolutely incredible.

  9. Anni
    Posted May 8, 2009 at 08:48 | Permalink

    Neener Bee – these freeze really well too, I just place two in each zip-lock bag right after they’ve cooled and put them in the freezer. That helps with the portion control!

  10. Posted May 8, 2009 at 19:28 | Permalink

    Those are gorgeous! Thanks for the step-by-step. :)

  11. Posted May 10, 2009 at 01:49 | Permalink

    Oh my gosh, they’re SO gorgeous!

  12. Posted May 10, 2009 at 17:32 | Permalink

    I know that I will dream about these this night. They are one of the most beautiful pastries I’ve ever seen.

  13. S
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 13:15 | Permalink

    Your pictures look heavenly; I can almost smell the aroma from my screen.

    I too love cardamom: it’s widespread in Indian sweet and savory recipes.

    Question: how does cardamom come to be so popular in Finnish (and I think also Swedish) cuisine? I don’t see it much in other European cooking (cinnamon seems more popular).


  14. Anni
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 14:52 | Permalink

    Hi S – and thanks, it’s nice to hear from you! The use of cardamom is limited to sweet pastries in Finnish cookery, unlike in Indian cuisine. We just discussed this with Heikki, and neither of us has any idea why cardamom is more popular in Finland and Sweden than in other European countries. There must be some research done on this subject – I’ll let you know if I find out something!

  15. Posted May 13, 2009 at 07:54 | Permalink

    These pastries look and sound delicious! I love almonds in pastry!

  16. Anna
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 14:19 | Permalink

    These look so delicious and, yes, cozy, that I can’t wait to come over to Finland and bake them on a gray winter afternoon…I really hope my Erasmus application will be accepted! Yeasted breads are very popular in Germany, sans cardamom of course. It would be really interesting to find out, why cardamom is so popular in Finland, especially since many other foods are only seasoned very mildly.
    I think I’ll save these for a special occasion – to make dessert for a dear friend who is allergic to most anything and who’ll come over from the USA soon. Thank you so much for this lovely recipe!

  17. Posted May 13, 2009 at 15:44 | Permalink

    Hello! First of all: I really like your blog, it’s super! :)
    I’m myself 25% finnish (my grandfather is from Kotka, buthe moved to Sweden as a kid during the war) but I have never been to Finland and we don’t celebrate any finnish traditions or so. Though after reading this post I just felt this urge to embrace my herritage (haha) so I was wondering if you have any other typical finnish dishes or so here on your blog? :) Take care! /Anni
    ps. btw, nice name! ;) hihi

  18. Posted May 13, 2009 at 19:13 | Permalink

    I’m so glad I popped back on to your blog. These look delicious and would be so wonderful to serve to guests for breakfast. These look like they came from a bakery. You did an amazing job!

  19. Anni
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 16:52 | Permalink

    Anna – good luck with the application! I tried to find out about the cardamom, but my internet research didn’t offer any answers… I’ll have to try actual books when I have the time!

    Anni – we do share a good name don’t we! I don’t think we’ve posted that many Finnish recipes, but a while ago we blogged about vispipuuro, whipped lingonberry porridge, and that’s very traditional. But I wonder if you also have that in Sweden?

    dreaminitvegan – thanks so much, nice to have you over! Finnish breakfast is usually not sweet at all, and sweet pastries are enjoyed on special occasions or with a cup of coffee in the afternoon. Such a luxurious idea to serve these for breakfast, your guests are lucky people!

  20. Posted May 24, 2009 at 19:51 | Permalink

    WOAH! Those look and sound totally AWESOME!
    GREAT recipe – thanks for sharing.

  21. Tessa
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 22:10 | Permalink

    I love your blog! And I am so excited to find a vegan version of pulla. My Finnish grandmother made it for us for every birthday and at Christmas.

    Would it work if I just used regular flour instead of the spelt flour? Thanks!

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