I didn’t know that poppy seeds are edible before coming to Eskisehir, the city where I’m living now. There are many pastry shops here and they have various breads that I didn’t see in my hometown. One of these unique breads is bread with mashed poppy seeds. As you can guess, it didn’t last long for me to become a big fan of this fantastic bread. We often buy it from a pastry shop nearby in the early morning when it’s still warm and we have the pleasure of eating this bread at breakfast with some cheese, sliced tomato and cucumber accompanied by newly brewed black tea.
It wasn’t enough for me just to eat the bread with this special ingredient, it was a must for me to learn more about it. Hubby said poppy seeds are commonly used in his hometown, and his mom knows a lot about it. And when I asked my mother-in-law (Mom II) about poppy seeds, she took me to her childhood with her lively descriptions, it was so exciting for me to be in a different time and learning about some past piece of life.
She said that she spent most of her childhood in huge poppy fields full of purple, red and white flowers and she explained how much she admired these lovely poppy flowers spreading as far as the eye can reach. She seemed as if she was really there while she was describing those fields, it was so clear from the light in her eyes. I think those times might be the root of her love of drawing and painting. I didn’t even know that poppies are lovely flowers. She explained that poppy flowers are just like wild beautiful flowers we see on mountains in Spring. Unlike these flowers, poppies are grown and processed by people. Poppy seeds are planted in fields and after some time, they come out of earth as fresh herbs. Mom II said that they would make salad from these herbs when they were still fresh. Growing older, these herbs become harder and bitter. They grow as high as an average human height and then they start to bloom in various colors and generate their fascinating masterpiece in fields. These flowers drop their petals after a certain time and form cones containing poppy seeds. Mom II told me that it was a big pleasure for her to break these cones, shake it down into her palm and throw the seeds into her mouth. It sounds great, doesn’t it?
These poppy seeds are used in pastry decoration and when they are mashed they turn into another amazing flavor. These are in three colors: black, yellow and white. Yellow and white mashed poppy seeds are used in pastries. As these are light in color, they don’t spoil the color of dough (you see in my bread above). Also, the rate of oil they include is not so high, which is better for pastries. As for the black mashed poppy seeds, it is mixed with grape molasses just like tahini and becomes a perfect food for breakfast especially in Winter.
Mom II also stated that it was a tradition in her childhood that to serve different kinds of breads with mashed poppy seeds during festivals like Ramadan or Greater Eid. When children knocked the door, the host was supposed to give some slices of poppy seed bread to them. It was one of the ways to make children happy on these special days besides candies and handkerchieves.
I learnt this yummy poppy seed bread from mom II. Unlike the ones in pastry shops here, this one has raisins or currants in its filling mixture, which makes it more special. So here is the recipe:
- 1 ½ tbsp instant yeast
- 1 cup milk(warm)
- 3 cups flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup yellow mashed poppy seed
- 1 cup olive oil
- ½ cup raisin/currants
Mix all the ingredients for dough, knead it and wait it for 1 hour to rise. It shouldn’t be sticky, if it’s still sticky, then add a little more flour.
Preheat the oven at 180C.
Then knead it once more. Sprinkle a little flour on the counter and roll it out in a rectangle like shape.
Mix mashed poppy seeds and olive oil very well, it mustn’t be thick, must be like a flowing mixture. Spread this on the dough and then throw the raisins/currants on it.
Then roll the dough tightly.
Cut the dough roll into two with a sharp knife.
Turn their insides with filling mixture upside.
Put one half on the middle of the other half and give them a shape of hook.
Plait each pieces until the end.
Oil a circle oven tray and place the bread dough gently in a circular shape. Combine the two ends of the dough and stick them together by pressing gently with your fingers.
Bake it for 35 minutes and serve it with black tea or coffee.
*If you can’t find mashed poppy seeds, here is an alternative recipe for its filling:
- ¾ cup poppy seeds
- ¾ cup raisin/currants
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tbsp corn strach
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tbsp butter
Put the poppy seeds, raisin and half of the milk in a pot. Boil it over the lowest heat until the seeds and raisin rise and there is no milk left. It takes for about 10 min. Meanwhile, whisk corn starch, yolk and the other half of milk in a bowl. At the end of the cooking time of poppy seeds and raisins, add the yolk mixture into the pot and boil stirring until it gets thick enough. Take it from fire and finally add butter and stir well. Spread this mixture on the dough you roll and bake it in the same way.