Last weekend, Sasha and I made this delicious Russian poppy seed-filled bread. We have been planning to do this for months, since Purim, when we each made Hamantaschen and had tons of poppy seed filling left over. Luckily, that sickly-sweet paste lasts forever so it was fine to save in the refrigerator and use again. This is a treat that Sasha remembers from her childhood, and it was really really good! The bread is just a tad bit sweet, and the poppy seed filling is spiked with cinnamon, cloves, and lemon, which lends a sophisticated flavor to the sticky sweet poppy seed filling.
Ingredients for Dough:
3/4 cup rice milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tblsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup Earth Balance
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour (approx.)
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1/4 tsp salt
2 flax-eggs (combine 1 Tblsp. of ground flax seed with 3 Tblsp. warm water for each “egg”–mix well until you have a gummy consistency)
Ingredients for Poppy Seed Filling:
1 cup store-bought poppy seed filling
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tblsp. chopped lemon rind
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup chopped pecan pieces
1/4 cup rice milk
Step one: In small microwaveable bowl or saucepan, warm milk. In separate bowl, dissolve 1 tsp (5 mL) of the sugar in 2 tbsp (25 mL) of the warm milk. Sprinkle in yeast; let stand for a few minutes until frothy.
Meanwhile, stir Earth Balance and remaining sugar into remaining milk; heat until Earth Balance is melted. Let cool to lukewarm.
In large bowl, whisk 2-1/2 cups (625 mL) of the flour, lemon zest and salt. Make a well in in the center, and add flax-eggs, milk mixture and yeast mixture. With wooden spoon, stir to form soft, slightly sticky dough that comes away from side of bowl.
Step two: Turn out onto floured surface; knead for 2 minutes or until smooth, adding enough of the remaining flour as necessary. Place in a greased ceramic bowl, turning to grease dough all over. Cover and let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Step 3: While your dough is rising, combine your poppy seed filling with the cinnamon, cloves, lemon juice, chopped lemon rind, and chopped pecans to taste.
Step 4: When your dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Turn out onto floured surface. Roll out into a 14- x 12-inch rectangle.
Step 5: Leaving 1/2-inch border uncovered around all edges, spread flattened dough with filling. Starting at long side, roll up, pinching seam to seal.
Place roll diagonally and seam side down on greased baking sheet. Cut slits in the top using scissors to make a pretty design. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap; let rise in warm draft-free place for 1 hour.
Topping: Brush rice milk over dough. Bake in center of 350°F oven until golden and loaf sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 30 minutes.
Step 6: Transfer baking sheet to rack; drape dry towel over loaf (for softer crust) and let cool for 20 minutes. Uncover and remove sheet; let loaf cool on rack completely before slicing.
We decided that this bread could be eaten for dessert, breakfast, with tea, or just as a snack. The recipe is versatile, and could also be made with a chocolate filling, or even with a cinnamon-butter filling and it would be a cinnamon roll!