Since we last talked, I survived the Great Basement Flooding of 2017 and ate dinner at Alinea.
The basement was my parent’s, and somehow Jason and I slept all night while the whole basement filled up with 2 inches of cold water. It wasn’t until 6am that I heard water dripping and thought I spilled my glass, only to stand up and realize that this was a bit more serious than that. After the initial panic and swearing, we pulled ourselves together, got all important documents and electronics out of the basement and called some professionals to deal with the rest. In the end, other than the floors which are obviously a lost cause, there was very little permanent damage. But the flood did require me to go through all the childhood nostalgia that was piling up in my parent’s basement. 90% of it went into the trash, but there sure were some gems.
But onto the less traumatic part of the weekend. My parent’s gifted us an evening at Alinea for our birthdays and yes, it lived up to each and every expectation that I had. Of the thirteen course dinner, there were at least two that stopped me mid-sentence when I took a bite. As in I was saying something, went in for a taste, and literally forgot what I had just been saying. It was that powerful. Also we ate a balloon for dessert. Casual.
So that was my weekend. But I also took off Monday through Wednesday this week to really ride out this high. I got a facial and a bang trim. I floated and solved several complex problems while in isolation. I went to a barre class and realized it’s been a really long time since I’ve wrapped by hands around a ballet bar (did you even know that this used to be a legit part of my life)?
And I baked. Quite a bit, actually. I started with this poppy seed roll that I’ve been thinking about for a while now. I love the yeasty, sticky sweet dough layered with a honey and poppy seed filling. It’s very eastern European—I think there are about 100 different versions of this type of dessert out there—all with their own slight variations.
If I was really dedicated, I would have made my own poppy seed filling, but honestly, I don’t have a spice mill and was okay cutting that corner. If you’re up to making your own, I recommend giving this recipe a try. Otherwise, the SOLO brand of poppy seed filling is pretty solid.
Anyways, this roll meets all my pastry requirements—great texture, perfectly risen rough, sweet without being too sweet, and totally fine to eat for both dessert and breakfast. Theo approved as well, although he did tell his nanny that he had cake for breakfast. Oops.
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 12.5 ounce can poppy seed and pastry filling (SOLO brand is a good one)
- 1 egg yolk whisked with a few drops of cold water
- Powdered sugar (optional)
- In a small saucepan, heat milk over low heat until warm, about 110 degrees F. Remove from heat and add yeast and sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit for about 10 minutes, until mixture is foamy and smells yeasty.
- In a large bowl, mix together flour and salt. Pour in yeast mixture and melted butter. Stir until dough starts to form, then finish by kneading until it all comes together. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a rectangle, about ¼ inch thick or thinner, if you can manage. Trim dough to make a clean rectangle (I skipped this step, and it made the roll a bit uneven). Drizzle honey all over dough, staying about ½ an inch away from the edges. Spread poppy seed filling evenly all over dough, again staying about ½ an inch away from the edges.
- Starting from one of the long edges, roll rough into a cylinder. Transfer to baking sheet, placing the seam on the bottom. Connect the two ends, making a wheel. Next, press edges together, pinching dough so they stay together.
- Using a sharp knife, make a few long cuts in the top of the roll, going through a single layer of dough. Brush roll generously with egg yolks and bake for 30-40 minutes, until dough is golden brown. Let cool slightly and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.