Month of June: “My Berlin Kitchen” Recipe: Poppy Seed Whirligig Buns.

I thought I would start out the first month of this grief adventure with “My Berlin Kitchen” by Luisa Weiss. Her wonderful book, which really isn’t a cookbook per se, was lent to me by a nurse colleague and it inspired me with a spark to start a food/grief blog. Her tale is about finding romantic love with a recipe after each chapter but mine is a love story of a friendship with a recipe after each post. So here I am. And you know what? It doesn’t matter if this is well received or not because I must do this. I am writing it to tell you about her, to honor our love and because I must rediscover myself.

Luisa explains that Germans love their breakfasts, apparently A LOT. I have Germanic DNA and I like breakfast so why not give this recipe a whirl? No bun intended. I have the day to myself. No reason to hurry. Beginner’s mind…time to understand yeast. It’s time to understand this grief.

I followed the directions on the package (hmmm…a good start) and guess what? Activation! Life! The dough came out pliable and supple. I was pleased. The result was delicious in my humble opinion. The poppy seed “pudding filling” was a cinnamony lemony flavor that contrasted nicely with the yeasty bread. I would definitely make these again. Thanks Luisa! (and Laurie for thinking I might enjoy the read!!) This book means more to me than you both could ever know!

Yeast dough: 3/4 cup whole milk, 1/4 ounce of fresh yeast or 1 package dry, 1/4 cup sugar, 4 cups all purpose flour, 2 large eggs, 4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling: 2 cups whole milk, grated lemon peel of 1/2 lemon, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/3 cup sugar, pinch of salt, 1/3 cup semolina, 1 cup fresh poppy seeds

  1. First make the dough. Heat the milk until lukewarm, add yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar to activate the yeast. Stir and let stand until mixture starts to get foamy.
  2. Pour the flour into a large bowl, add sugar, then begin to stir incorporating with each stir, Add eggs, butter and salt. Begin kneading with hands within the bowl. It will be sticky, don’t worry. Dump onto a lightly floured counter and knead 3-5 minutes until smooth.
  3. Wash out bowl, dry and rub butter into bowl, add dough and let rise until double in a draft free area, about an hour or more.
  4. Make the filling: Put milk in 2 quart saucepan over medium head, add lemon zest, cinnamon, vanilla, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil and then SLOWLY add semolina making sure to whisk while adding. Cook 1 minute stirring all the time. Then add poppy seeds and mix well. Important: Make sure you find fresh poppy seeds, don’t use the ones that have been sitting in your kitchen for years. Remove from heat and let cool.
  5. Punch down dough and knead again. Roll out into a large rectangle with rolling pin to 1/2 inch thickness. Spread the cool poppy seed mixture on top evenly almost to edges. Roll up dough lengthwise into a log and wrap tightly in aluminum foil and freeze for 1 hour.
  6. Butter two 9 or 10 inch cake pans or sheet pan. Remove log from freezer and discard foil. Cut the log into 1.5 inch thick slices. Place in buttered pans and let rise for 45 minutes with a towel to cover. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  7. Mix one egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of milk together and brush buns with mixture. Bake 30 minutes or until golden.
  8. Per Luisa, buns are best the same day they are made. If you want to keep them, wrap the baked cooled buns in foil, in a freezer bag, freeze. Defrost unwrapped in 300 degree oven for 15 minutes.

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