This Lemon Poppy Seed Braid is the first loaf of bread I was ever taught to make. I was 12 years old at that time and was living in a small town with little else to do after school. My mentor was a Canadian lady who made the most wonderful baked goodies. My mom is a great cook but she is not a baker. She was more than happy to allow me to go over to Mrs. D’s house for my lesson in bread making.
Mrs. D made all kinds of breads and cakes but I was most captivated by her poppy seed braid. I asked if she could teach me how to make it and she kindly obliged. I went over to her house one day after school and was treated to some delicious cake before the lesson started. I remember having had to stand on a step stool to do the kneading. It was hard work for my then small hands and skinny arms but I thoroughly enjoyed the lesson. Mrs. D even gave me some fresh yeast so that I could make my own loaf at home, which I did the very next day.
I do not have Mrs. D’s recipe with me any more as it was such a long time ago. I wrote it on a scrap of paper that got lost while I was busy growing up and forgot about bread making. All I remember was that it was a beautiful braided loaf with poppy seeds sprinkled on the top. The recipe below is my own creation made using Meyer lemons. The bread turned out beautifully with a golden crust and a moist and tender inside. Ro-Ri San and the boys loved it so much that I had to make another loaf two days later. Adding lemon to the low-fat milk is like using buttermilk. I guess that was what made the bread so tender and flavorful. I am sure this lemon poppy seed braid will make Mrs. D proud.
- 1¼ cup (300ml) low fat milk
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 3½ cups (525g) unbleached white bread flour
- 2 tbsp poppy seeds
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp rapid rise dry yeast
- egg wash
Pour milk into bread machine pan. Add lemon juice. Sprinkle flour over milk. Add 1 tablespoon poppy seeds and lemon zest. Place butter, sugar, and salt in separate corners of bread pan. Make a shallow indentation in the middle of flour and add yeast. Snap bread pan into bread machine and close lid. Set bread machine to dough setting. Press the start button.
Lightly oil a baking sheet.
When dough cycle is complete, remove dough from machine and place it on a lightly floured surface. Punch down gently and divide dough into 3 equal sections. Roll each section into a 14 inch rope. If it is too sticky, lightly flour it. Place on baking sheet and braid the three ropes like braiding hair. Press the ends together and tuck under. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise for 30 to 40 minutes or until double in size.
Preheat oven to 400?F (200°C). Brush braid with egg wash. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon poppy seed over braid. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
This bread is delicious served warm spread with some butter or lemon curd.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day!