Monday, November 17, 2008

Made in Finland

While rummaging through my kitchen cabinet the other day, I came across this beautiful slip decorated redware bowl. The bowl measures 8 inches across the top and is 2.25 inches tall. The foot measures 3 inches. Every time I come across the bowl in my cabinet I remember Gary's grandmother. My mother and I discovered this bowl in her apartment when we packed her possessions when she passed away at 98 quite a few years ago. When I turned the bowl over, I saw, Made in Finland, stamped into the bottom. This didn't surprise me since Gary's grandparents on both sides immigrated to the United States from Finland.

However, when I was looking at the bottom of the bowl I was surprised to see it's completely glazed with a clear glaze, even the foot. I wondered how the bowl could have been fired. I looked for some stilt marks all over the bottom and couldn't find anything at all. I was amazed. As I looked at the front of the bowl again, admiring the slip decoration, I noticed what I thought was a small nick in the rim of the bowl. As I look closer I saw the nick was a definite line. I ran my fingers around the rim of bowl and found two more lines at even intervals on the rim of the bowl. I believe the bowl was fired upside down on a type of plate setter.

Gary's grandmother lived at Strawberry Creek Lodge in Berkeley. When we used to visit her, we would take her out to lunch at Spenger's Restaurant. I remember she loved the French bread, perhaps she liked the sourdough. I could never figure out why she liked the French bread so much, because her Pulla, Finnish Coffee Bread, was much better. She used to make us Pulla every time we came to visit. Pulla is braided and has crushed cardamom seeds as a flavoring and is delicious. Sometimes she added raisins to the bread batter too.


2 cups milk
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 packages of active dry yeast
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom (or more if you like)
4 eggs, beaten
9 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons white sugar (to sprinkle on top)

Warm the milk in a small saucepan until lukewarm. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Stir in the lukewarm milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, 4 eggs, and enough flour to make a batter (approximately 2 cups). Beat until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add about 3 cups of the flour and beat well; the dough should be smooth and glossy in appearance. Add the melted butter or margarine, and stir well. Beat again until the dough looks glossy. Stir in the remaining flour until the dough is stiff.

Turn out of bowl onto a floured surface, cover with an inverted mixing bowl, and let rest for 15 minutes. Knead the dough until smooth and satiny. Place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, and turn the dough to grease the top. Cover with a clean dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch down, and let rise again until almost doubled.

Turn out again on to a floured surface, and divide into 3 parts. Divide each third into 3 again. Roll each piece into a 12 to 16 inch strip. Braid 3 strips into a loaf. You should get 3 large braided loaves. Lift the braids onto greased baking sheets. Let rise for 20 minutes.

Brush each loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes. Check towards the end of baking to be sure bottom doesn't burn.


  1. What a beautiful bowl. You have to wonder about its age.
    Thanks for the bread recipe. My mother in law, who is 82 now and no longer bakes, made this bread every Christmas. She would give us a loaf to take home. We would toast it and eat it with coffee and hot tea. It is so good!

  2. OH what a gorgeous loaf, and bowl too!

  3. YUMMO!! That bread looks fantastic.....gonna have to give it a try. Thanks for the recipe.

  4. Thanks guys, it's amazing what I notice now that I work in clay and know a little more about processes, firing and the like. Ain't pottery, grandmas and home cooking good !


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