Braided Poppy Seed Bread

This is an example of a stuffed braid. The form is simple, but the filling means a delicate hand is in order.

Serves: 10Hands-on: 25 minutesTotal: 4 hours 15 minutesDifficulty: Medium

Serves: 10


  • 1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1⁄4 cup poppy seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 large eggs, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 3⁄4 tsp. active dry yeast (1 package)
  • Grated zest of 3 oranges
  • 1 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 1 Tbsp. cream


  • Melt 1⁄4 cup butter in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add 3 tablespoons poppy seeds and honey. Simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool, then stir in 1 egg and sour cream. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl combine milk, sugar, and yeast. Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in orange zest, remaining butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and enough bread flour to create a firm dough. Add flour only to reduce stickiness. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 8 minutes. Return to bowl, dust the top with flour, and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment. Turn risen dough onto a floured surface and roll into a rectangle the size of your baking sheet. Spread poppy seed mixture evenly onto dough, then fold dough in half, like a book. Cover and rise again for 30 minutes.
  • Roll risen dough into an elongated rectangle, approximately 16 by 9 inches. Slice the rectangle into 3 strands, each 16 by 3 inches, and form a 3-strand braid. Place onto prepared pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and proof for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Whisk together remaining egg and cream 1⁄4 teaspoon salt, and brush gently onto the top of the risen loaf. Sprinkle with reserved poppy seeds and bake until golden brown and hollow sounding, about 40 minutes. Cool completely on a rack.