We Austrians crave bread! In addition to various types of bread like dark, sourdough, rye, wheat, whole-grain etc. we also care a great deal about different types of bread rolls. I have never seen such a huge selection of bread and rolls in another culture. One of my favorites is braided poppy seed rolls, or “Mohnflesserl” as my fellow citizens call them lovingly. To be honest, crafting this special braided roll for the first time can be a bit of a challenge. I also had to learn this the hard way on my first attempts, but practice makes perfect. A much simpler way if you like to start easy, is to from just small buns instead of braiding the rolls.
- Prepare the ingredients In a saucepan whisk milk, water, sugar and oil. Warm the mixture to 100ºF-110ºF (37ºC - 43ºC). Stir the active dry yeast into the mixture and let everything stand for 10 minutes.
- Make the dough In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix together flour, salt and the mixture from the saucepan. Knead in mixer on medium speed for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth. If you don't have a stand mixer, use your hands to knead. Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm place for 30 minutes or until the dough doubled in size.
- Form balls Split the dough into 2.8 ounce pieces. Form balls, cover with a towel and let them rise for 15 minutes. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Craft the braided poppy seed rolls Step 1: Roll the balls to 15 - 17 inch long ropes each. Hint: Making rolling easier, moisten the surface or your hands with water Step 2: Take the right end of one rope and attach the end at the first third of the rope (you have a loop on the one end of the rope). Step 3: Take the left end of the rope, put it over the left side of the loop and then pierce the right side of the loop from the bottom. Step 4: Now take the left side of the loop and twist it to the right to get a smaller loop. Step 5: Finally, take the end of the rope on the right side and put it into the center of the loop to patch the hole. Place the braided bread on the sheet pan.
- Sprinkle and bake the braided poppy seed rolls Place an oven rack in the center and a heat-proof bowl with water on the bottom of the oven (steam helps to rise the bread). Preheat the oven to 410ºF (210ºC). Brush the braided rolls with water and sprinkle them with poppy seed. You may also use sesame or shredded pumpkin seed instead. When the oven is hot enough, put the sheet pan into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until the rolls are gold-brown.
If you don't like poppy seed use other seeds like sesame or shredded pumpkin seed. For fresh rolls à la minute, freeze them once they cooled off and warm them up in an oven whenever you need them.