Thursday, June 24, 2010

Poppy Seed Rolls

We love poppy seed rolls, so for Travis’ birthday, I made rolls instead of a cake. After searching high and low for a great dough recipe, I think I found “The One”!

Granny and Papa gave Kate a dough recipe that they had been using and she gave it to me to try. It is a fantastic dough! I’ve tried many recipes and this one just works so well for me. It is neither too wet or too dry and does not make an unmanageable amount of dough. When I say unmanageable, I mean I’ve tried recipes that make six dozen kolaches. Way too many for us!

This recipe makes two nice size rolls and the dough stays nice and moist for a few days after baking. Making rolls or kolaches does take a time commitment, but it is well worth the work! You know, I just realized that a lot of what I do takes a “time commitment”…from now on, I think “time commitment” is just understood unless otherwise noted!

The full recipes for the dough and the filling are at the bottom of the post. Let’s get started!


You’ll need yeast, warm water, milk, butter, sugar, salt, egg yolks, and flour.

Yeast and Milk Prep

Mix the yeast into the warm water and set aside to activate. Heat the milk until it is just boiling. Cut the butter into smaller pieces for easy melting.

Milk Mixture

Once the milk has just begun to boil, take it off of the heat, add the butter, and stir until the butter is all dissolved. Then add the sugar and salt and stir until that is all dissolved. Let the mixture cool.

Tempering Eggs

Place the egg yolks into a bowl (at least an 8 cup bowl) and slightly beat. Add the milk/butter/sugar mixture a little at a time to the eggs, beating constantly. (The beating constantly is not such a big deal if your milk has cooled to near room temperature, but it is still good to take the time to do it anyway.) Add the water/yeast to the egg/milk mixture and stir to combine.

Adding Flour

Add half of the flour into the dough and stir until well combined. This takes a little time and some elbow grease. When the first half is completely incorporated, add the remaining flour and mix again.

Oil or grease a bowl, place the dough in and turn so the dough is completely greased. This will keep the dough from sticking so much to the bowl while rising and when you need to turn it out.

Place into a warm place until it has doubled in size. Roughly one hour. My house does not have a good “warm place” so I preheat my oven to 200F and then turn it off. I place a shallow pan of boiling water in the oven on the lower rack and put my bowl of dough in on the top rack. It does a very nice job of proofing. Just remember to take out the water before you bake!


While your dough is rising, it’s time to make the filling! You’ll need ground Poppy Seed, milk, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla.

Grinding Poppyseed

Travis does a good job of grinding Poppy Seed for me. He’s much better at watching the consistency of the grind than I am. The seeds should be just cracked to release their flavor and oils, they don’t have to be completely ground into a paste.

Cooking Poppy Seed

Boil your milk and add the Poppy Seed, sugar, and cornstarch. I have found that the cornstarch dissolves and “acts” much better when it is mixed in with the sugar. So do that!

Cook until the filling is thick.

Cool down to room temperature…or very close to it! I use an ice bath to cool down my filling when I don’t have time to wait on it to cool down naturally.

Once the filling has cooled, add the vanilla, stir, and use!


Meanwhile, back in your warm place, dough is rising. One reason I like to use a large measuring bowl is so you can clearly see when you have reached double. My dough was just at 4 1/2 cups before rising which means it needs to be around 9 cups before I can call it doubled. This is just right!

Prepping Dough

Turn your dough out onto a floured surface. Knead a few times until the dough is a little more elastic and then cut into half for two rolls.

Rolling and Buttering

Take one half of the dough and roll out into a rectangular-ish shape. Brush the dough with melted butter.

Spreading Filling

Add filling to the buttered dough and spread evenly. Please, make sure that you get dough all the way to the edge of the roll. No one likes to get the end with no filling!

Rolling up with Filling

Now you are ready to roll! Roll the dough over the filling and place seam side down on the baking sheet. Either grease the baking sheet first or line it with parchment paper. Butter the top of the roll.

Repeat with the other half of the dough. The best part about making two rolls at the same time is that they don’t have to have the same filling! You could make it cream cheese, apple, apricot…the choices are endless!

Before and After

Bake in a 350F oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. I like to turn the pan half way through the bake time so they brown evenly. Travis was sweet enough to put these in the oven for me because I had a meeting and I didn’t tell him to turn the pan. They turned out just fine anyway.


Once they have finished baking, let them cool down some and then serve! They’re gorgeous and good! I put some serving suggestions down at the end of the recipe for those who need a little topping!



Here’s the full recipe for the dough:

  • 1 package of yeast
  • 1/4 cup of warm water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter (cut into small cubes)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 egg yolks beaten
  • 4 1/4 cup flour
  1. Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water (~90F)
  2. Heat the milk until just boiling
  3. Add butter to the milk and stir until melted
  4. Add the sugar and salt and stir until dissolved
  5. Let the milk mixture cool and pour onto the beaten egg yolks a little at a time (this is to temper them so that they don’t cook)
  6. Add the water/yeast mixture to the egg/milk mixture
  7. Add half of the flour and stir in until well incorporated. Then add the other half and mix again.
  8. Place dough in a greased bowl, butter the top of the dough and cover with a towel. Set in a warm place (~100-120F) until dough has doubled in size.
  9. Turn out onto a floured surface. Knead a few times so it’s not sticky and then cut in half.
  10. Take one half and roll out into a rectangle-ish shape.
  11. Butter the rolled out dough.
  12. Spread the filling all over the dough.
  13. Roll.
  14. Place on a rimmed baking sheet either sprayed with non-stick spray or lined with parchment paper.
  15. Butter the top of the rolls
  16. Repeat steps 10-14 with the other half of the dough.
  17. Let the rolls rise in a warm place for 30 minutes or so.
  18. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. I like to turn the baking sheet half way through so they brown evenly.
  19. To Serve:
    1. Make a simple powdered sugar/milk icing and drizzle over the top;
    2. Butter again (lightly!) and sprinkle white sugar on the top;
    3. A little dollop of sweetened whipped cream;
    4. Serve plain!
  20. Enjoy…finally!


Here’s the recipe for the Poppy Seed Filling:

  • 2 cups ground Poppy Seed
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup boiling milk
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  1. Bring the milk to a boil
  2. Add the Poppy Seed, sugar and cornstarch.
    1. I have found that you have a much smoother filling if you mix the cornstarch and sugar together. My cornstarch, when added alone, tends to make hard lumps and does not do it’s thickening job.
  3. Cook until thick.
  4. Let cool to close to room temp. Room temp is best if you can wait.
  5. Stir in the vanilla.
  6. Use!


Karen said...

I've bought regular poppyseed but not ground. Do you know if you can buy it that way? Sounds delish!

Sara said...

Hmm...I don't know if you can buy it ground without buying like the "Solo" brand filling. We got our grinder as a wedding gift, so I'm really not even sure where to get one! (They have them online, I'm sure...)

Joanne said...

You can probably grind them in a food processor, too, if you don't want to buy a grinder. Just make sure not to totally liquify them!