A super tender milk bread studded with poppyseeds, a hint of lemon with crunchy, sugared topping.
This recipe was originally posted on Jan 10, 2020.
This one isn’t new per se but it has gotten quite the glow-up. The recipe was written a few years ago and because it had so many variations it proved confusing for readers (I had a babka, a pull-apart and some rolls in *one* recipe). We’re keeping it simple now in the recipe box below but I have kept the notes on how to make this into those shapes if you have been using the recipe for a while and didn’t want to lose it (scroll down to the paragraph titled variations).
The other thing is, the dough itself is now much better because I’ve adapted it to milk bread style of making enriched breads. You first saw this dough in my milk bread babka, and then in many of my cinnamon rolls. There’s a reason I’m obsessed with it.
Milk bread is far superior in method to a basic mix of the dough ingredients recipe because it starts with something called a tangzhong, a chinese method that’s used in making japanese milk bread. This is done by cooking liquid and some of the flour together to gelatinize the starches, it leads to a much softer bread that stays tender for days.
Poppyseeds: You might balk at using ‘tablespoons’ of poppyseeds in the dough (especially if you’ve bought them in those tiny little spice jars for +$5 a pop!) so if you have less it’s fine to use less but it will definitely be less of a ‘poppy’ bread. Also, buy poppyseeds in bulk for much chapter! Local middle eastern markets usually sell bags of them for $4 or less and you can find good sources online.
All purpose flour: While I usually opt for bread flour in my bread recipes I think this particular bread goes better with a little less protein so all purpose it is. It’ll tenderize the bread (rather than make it chewy) which is exactly what you want.
Water/Milk: I use milk in the roux and water to mix with the yeast, this is mostly so I don’t have to warm up milk (since it’ll get cooked in the paste and I can use warm water straight from the tap). You might see me using water in the roux in the video, that was an earlier test and I preferred it with the milk. If you want to make this dairy free you can use all water.
This is also an opportunity to use milk powder or buttermilk powder, if using all water.
Butter: I’ve got butter in the dough and in the filling. If you want to make this dairy-free use a df butter.
Lemon: We’re just using the zest here. Lemon juice, very acidic, doesn’t work so well in the dough.
Yeast: I’ve got instant yeast but you may substitute with active dry, just add another quarter of a teaspoon.
A note on lemon flavor
This bread is designed to be primarily poppyseed focused, not lemon. I do have lemon zest in there in a few different ways but it’s not lemon bread. If you would like it to be more lemony, consider dousing the bread in a lemon soak (cook together equal amounts of lemon juice and sugar until the sugar dissolves – i’d do about ¼ cup each). Or adding lemon extract to the dough.
If you’ve made cinnamon rolls before you’ve got this: after the dough has gone through the first rise you’ll roll it out.
It need not be very thin, I like to keep it at least 1 cm thick so each pulled layer (when eating!) is a good size.
Then you’ll spread the butter over it and sprinkle on the sugar and cut out strips (they are more like little rectangles of dough) and stack them.
The stack goes into the loaf pan sideways.
In the oven, the butter/sugar combination creates these lovely layers between the dough so that when you take it out, you can essentially pull some pieces apart. Isn’t that lovely?
So I just need to you know something; there is no pretty way to eat this. You’re going to set it on the table and people will be diving in with their hands, pulling at the bits they want and in whatever chunks they want. Embrace the madness of a delicious bread, it’s part of the pull-apart charm.
There’s a lot you can do with this dough, here I’m focusing on the the pull-apart: you’ll make the dough, slather it with butter and sugar, slice it into little squares and stack them. Honestly for the amount of work you don’t do for this, it turns up gorgeous with lovely layers. This is the recipe you’ll find below.
However if you like, you can also do:
A poppyseed babka, with a poppyseed and white chocolate filling:
Shape the poppy babka
Or some morning rolls (cinnamon roll style) with the same filling. To do so make the filling as you would above in the babka then:
Ok let’s wrap this up, if you have someone you really love, you make this for them. You tell them, ‘I love you as many poppyseeds are in this dish.’ That’s a lot of love. And I promise, after eating some, they’ll love you back the same crazy amount of poppyseeds.
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