Braided Poppy Seed Bread


  • 2 cups white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon nonfat dry milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon superfine sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for topping
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 5 tablespoon poppy seeds, plus extra for topping
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon milk


When my father-in-law heard that I was trying my hand at homemade, fresh baked, bread for the first time, he told me that nothing makes a house smell quite like a HOME like the scent of freshly baked bread. And honestly, now speaking from experience, I have to agree. This poppy seed bread filled our entire kitchen and living space with that….how do I put it…that love smell.

What does “love” smell like?

Well… its the mixture of warmth…attentiveness…labor…perseverance…and bread 😉

Directions: (adapted from “Baking and Desserts: the essential recipe collection”)


Sift the flour and salt together into a bowl and stir in the dry milk, sugar, and yeast. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the lukewarm water and oil. Stir well until the dough begins to come together. Add the poppy seeds and knead with your hands until they are fully incorporated and the dough leaves the side of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured counter and knead well for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.

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Brush bowl with oil. Shape the dough into a ball, put it into the bowl, and cover with a damp dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in volume.


Brush a cookie sheet with oil. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, punch down with your fist, and knead for 1-2 minutes. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and shape each into a rope 10-12 inches long. Place the ropes side by side and press them together at one end. Braid the dough, pinch the other ends together, and tuck underneath. Put the loaf on the prepared cookie sheet, cover with a damp dish towel, and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

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Preheat the oven to 400*F. To make the topping, beat the egg yolk with the milk and sugar. Brush over the top of the loaf and sprinkle with the poppy seeds. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.


What Worked:

When done correctly, this is such a beautiful loaf of bread. The golden crust, matched with the poppy seeds and braided form lends itself to such an appetizing presentation. In addition, the egg, milk, and sugar mixture that is brushed on the pre-baked bread gives this loaf just a hint of sweetness.

What DIDN’T Work:

This was my first time attempting homemade bread, and though the final product was wonderful, it took me three separate times to get there. All I can say is READ DIRECTIONS, READ DIRECTIONS, READ DIRECTIONS. Both times I put in an entire packet of yeast until I finally realized that the recipe only called for 1 teaspoon. Although I had never made bread before, I knew the texture of the dough was not right….far too dry. Once I finally realized my mistake, started the dough over once again, the texture finally felt right.

Also, due to the egg yolk mixture that is brushed on the top, the bread bakes to a golden brown color rather quickly. Had I not been checking on my bread every 5 minutes, it would have easily burned.


Burnt Bread

After only 10 minutes of baking, my crust was already golden brown. Therefore, I covered the load entirely with aluminum foil and continued baking for the remainder of the time to prevent burning. I also continued to check on the bread every 5 minutes to ensure that it did not burn.

Also, as I stated in earlier recipes, I always initially bake my items for less time than is called for. For this recipe I baked the bread for 25 minutes vs. 30. However, at 25 minutes it was clear it needed an additional 5 minutes, and therefore this recipe’s time is true to the directions.

TIP: This bread can be a wonderful addition to the breakfast table. Partnered with a nice lemon curd or a raspberry preserve, and this poppy seed braid is totally transformed.


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