I adapted one of our favorite bread recipes to sourdough. These hoagie rolls are so soft on the inside, perfect for stuffing with your favorite sandwich ingredients.

We love them with our French Dip and as toasted italian subs.

Of all my recipes, this is my pride and joy. When I stopped buying bread last fall and switched solely to making my own, I knew I needed a good go-to sandwich bread.

It seemed other recipes kind of wore me out after awhile, or they needed too much butter, or extra ingredients.
This dough is soft and easy to work with, without using any more butter than needed (3T for three loaves).

It stays fresh for days, makes a delicious sandwich- or just smeared with some butter alongside soup (or by itself- I’m constantly sneaking slices!).

This recipe can make 2 large loaves (my preference), or 3 smaller ones. I personally double it, and make 5 -720g loaves every other week. 

It freezes great! Just allow it to cool before closing up in an airtight bag and freezing.


When I was a kid, my mom regularly contributed recipes to Taste of Home Magazine. I still think it’s pretty cool! You can search her name and “Taste of Home” and find all kinds of recipes we ate growing up.

When I was in late elementary school, The Taste of Home was going to showcase her Nisu recipe. For some reason, this one was more of a highlight piece. Taste of Home wanted a photo from my mom to include a little feature about her (they generally make and photograph the recipes themselves).
A few of us girls were going to be in the photo, too. We had our blonde hair done up, donned some simple blue and red cotton floral dresses, and posed for a photo in front a Finnish- inspired table spread, with nisu as the star.

Nisu is a traditional Finnish recipe that has been passed down and enjoyed for generations. Modern Finns call it “Pulla”, but for us, it will always be the old-generation “nisu”.
I adapted this family recipe to sourdough from yeast. It is a deliciously soft, slightly sweet, with warm cardamom, and a tang of sourdough taste.

This is really quite a simple recipe, with the flexibility in timing that comes with sourdough. I always shove it in the fridge overnight if I need more time or don’t feel like dealing with it at the moment.
That’s what I love about sourdough! It comes with a “pause” button.

This recipe can be made into standard bread loaves, braids, cinnamon rolls, or beautiful swirled loaves.

What you’ll need:

Sourdough starter: active and bubbly
Milk: preferably whole
Flour: bread flour is fantastic, AP is fine
Freshly ground cardamom: I buy it from my local bulk herb store and crush with a rolling pin or grind in an herb grinder. Pre-ground cardamom works, but I have never been able to get the robust cardamom flavor that I want while using this.

To make the recipe, you first need to heat the milk. I do it in a small pot on the stove, being careful to keep it low and only heat until warmed.

After turning off the burner, throw the butter into the milk, then wait for the milk to cool down.
Sometimes the butter melts completely, sometimes it’s just softened in that time. Either is okay!

Once the milk is cooled, it can be mixed with all the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.

Note I always double this recipe, so this photo shows twice of what you need:

If you don’t mind kneading, knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

If you’re like me, and avoid kneading at all costs, mix the dough well with your hands until all the ingredients are incorporated. Then, over the first 2 hours of rising, do a few series of stretch and folds until the dough is stretchy and elastic.

The dough should be smooth, soft, and sticky.

Bulk rise: Cover, and let rise at room temperature for 8-12 hours, or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. The dough should about double in this time.

After the first rise, dump the dough out on to the counter and divide into two.

Shape the loaves however you wish.

To make “swirly nisu”, as the oldest calls it, start by imitating the process of making cinnamon rolls.

Press the dough into a large rectangle, and sprinkle with a few tablespoons of brown sugar and a healthy amount of cinnamon.
Roll the dough up (just like you’re rolling up cinnamon rolls), and pinch all the ends closed.
Then, slice it lengthwise down the middle of the “loaf” NOT like you are making cinnamon rolls ;), leaving just an inch attached at the top so it doesn’t unravel.
You should be left with two “strands” that can then be twisted around each other a couple times.
Place in a well-oiled (preferably parchment lined) loaf pan.

Let rise and bake until golden.



This traditional Finnish bread is soft, sweet, with warm cardamom, and a slight sourdough tang.
For best results, weigh your ingredients.


  • For Swirled Nisu:


  1. In a small saucepan, heat milk until warm. Add butter to milk, and let sit until cool to touch. (Butter may not melt all the way, but that is okay)
  2. When milk mixture is cooled, add with the rest of the ingredients into a large bowl (or stand mixer with dough hook). Mix until ingredients are fully incorporated.
  3. Knead: There are two options here. You can knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Alternately, once the ingredients are fully incorporated, you can do a series of stretch and folds over the first couple hours of rise time.
  4. First Rise: cover bowl and let sit at room temperature for 4-12 hours. Dough is ready when it has puffed up and bubbles are visible under the surface of the dough. If you need more time before final shaping and baking, dough can be placed in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  5. Shape loaves: Pour the dough unto the counter and divide into two. Shape into loaves, and put into well-oiled bread pans.
    This is the fun part because you can also shape into braids, cinnamon rolls, or our favorite: swirly nisu. See post above for how to make twisted loaves.
  6. Final Rise: Cover, and let rise until doubled. This could be anywhere from 2-4+ hours, depending on your room temperature.
  7. Bake: Preheat oven to 350°. Optional: brush loaves with egg wash and sprinkle with sugabefore baking.
    Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the tops are golden.
    Note: there can be a variation in bake time. My aluminum pans take 30, my cast iron take up to 45. Braided loaves on a sheet pan take about 25.


  • I have reduced the amount of sourdough start needed from my original recipe. I found that I rarely have as much as I initially wrote, and it turns out the same.
  • November 2023: I have increased the amount of milk from 1 cup to 1 1/4 cup. With the reduced starter, this makes for a very soft, but still workable dough
Keywords:Sourdough, bread, sweets