On the trail of Buddha Bread

I’m not much of a baker. This time of year, however, I get the itch to get out the flour and  make a colossal mess of the kitchen. That, and it’s a great way to spend time with my daughter, who loves to bake. We crank the tunes, yip our heads off, and have a jolly old time.

The other day we tried our hand at making pulla, a Finnish cardamom bread. Our family calls it “boo-la”, but my daughter refers to it as “Buddha.” She associates my aunt’s house in Montana with “Buddha bread,” and she can’t get enough of it.

As we were kneading the dough, I thought of my grandmother, whose famous Finn bread was one of my childhood staples. Instead of using a measuring cup, she’d scoop handfuls of flour into the bowl with her hands. She’d pour salt into the crook of her elbow in lieu of a measuring spoon. And her bread, warm from the oven and slathered with butter — Sally, bar the doors. Over the years, the memory of that taste has become the stuff of legends. She’s been gone a long time now, but whenever I make Finn bread, I feel close to her.

As we kneaded the pulla, I told Sophie that making bread makes me think of my grandma. She gave me a funny look and said, “Making bread doesn’t make me think of anyone.”

A lump formed in my throat as I told her, “I think someday it will.”

Pulla or Buddha, depending on who you ask

Wishing you a glorious holiday season chock full of schmoopy moments!

What are some of your family traditions this time of year?

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