Monday, March 31, 2014

poppy seed kolache

My husband has been waxing poetic about this dish ever since I met him. A Romanian traditional sweet bread with poppy seed filling, served at Christmas time.

I am not stranger to poppy seed pastry, growing up on the Lower East Side - before it was chic - with a plethora of Jewish bakeries around the neighborhood. Plus a Jewish grandmother, serving pastries up during our weekly Sunday visits. I have very few memories of her that don't involve baked fare: noodle kugel, sponge cake, apple pie. It may be where I get my baking genes. Lord knows they didn't come from my mom.

Kolache seemed to resemble hamantaschen, until I actually made them. These little sweet breads are more like rolls than cookies. Super fluffy light with a yummy dense center of poppy seed goodness. As my grandmother would say, What's not to like?

And we started filing our taxes. I have no words. I hope yours were less aggravating than mine.

Poppy Seed Kolache
Makes 16 pastries, from Simply Recipes
  • 4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace or ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Canned poppy seed filling (or make your own*)
  • Raisins (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp milk
*Poppyseed filling (if you want to make your own filling, otherwise, you can use canned)
  • 1 cup poppy seed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup chopped dates
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts
  • Dash of cinnamon

1 In a large mixing bowl combine 2 cups of the flour, the yeast, and nutmeg or mace; set aside.
2 In a medium saucepan heat and stir the 1 cup milk, the 1/2 cup butter, the granulated sugar, and salt just until warm (120 degree F to 130 degree F) and butter almost melts. Add milk mixture to dry mixture along with the two eggs and vanilla extract. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping side of bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Stir in lemon zest and as much of the remaining flour as you can.
3 Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (3 to 5 minutes total). Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the surface. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double in size (for 1 to 1-1/2 hours).
4 If you are making the poppy seed filling from scratch, combine the filling ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over low heat until it thickens, stirring often. Set filling aside to cool.
5 Punch dough down. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Grease 2 baking sheets.
6 Roll each dough half into a 16x8 inch rectangle, about an 1/8 inch thick. Cut each rectangle into 8 4x4 squares. Place a large, heaping tablespoon of poppy seed filling onto the center of each square. If you want, add a few raisins to the top of the filling. Brush the four corners of each square with water. Draw the corners up and gently press together. Secure with a toothpick. Place on parchment lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Cover; let rise in a warm place until nearly double (about 35 minutes).
7 Brush with an egg wash made with one egg beaten with a tablespoon of milk. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden. Transfer to wire racks; cool completely. Remove toothpicks. 

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