When I was a kid I loved plasticine and fimo. I would build all kinds of things from modelling clay and for about two weeks I even had a very small fimo brooch kid business. (I sold the brooches for 50 pfennig a piece to my aunts.) I still like modelling stuff and so does my daughter. We build a lot of modelling clay animals. Baking with yeast dough is probably my way of finding a more grown up way to handle my plasticine addictions. I love the soft and smooth texture and all the different ways you can knead and cut it.
These pull-apart breads have been out there for quite a while. My version is inspired by Celine, who I test recipes for. She made a wonderful pull-apart bread for one of her new books. I love the technique used for this kind of bread, it’s similar to making cinnamon buns, but instead of rolling the dough up, you just cut it into stripes and stack it. Because there’s so much filling the baked bread is very moist and soft, and with its cinnamon and sugar filling, it’s the perfect comfort food. Well, not quite. Poppy seeds are a much-loved filling for Eastern- and Central-European pastries and who could argue with that? I have to admit that even though I do love a cinnamon roll once in a while, I would always prefer a poppy seed roll. And that’s why I put them in a filling for this delicious bread, too.
Poppy Seed Pull-Apart Bread (makes one 22 cm or 9-inch loaf)
For the dough:
270 ml ( 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) soy milk
55 g (1/4 cup) refined coconut oil
50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
420 g (3 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
70 g (1/2 cup) poppy seeds, ground
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Place soy milk in a small pot and add coconut oil. Heat gently until the oil has melted. Do not bring to a boil. Let cool until luke warm. Whisk in sugar.
In a large bowl mix flour, yeast, and salt. Add liquid ingredients and knead the dough until smooth, for about 5 minutes. It will probably still be sticky, but that’s okay. A stickier dough with more moisture will result in a fluffier loaf.
Let the dough rise in a warm place, until doubled in size, about an hour. (At this time of the year I put it into the oven and just leave the light on.)
Meanwhile prepare the filling:
Combine poppy seeds and sugar Add hot water and oil. Stir well until everything is combined. Stir in flour and starch.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured working surface. Your dough should now be smooth and soft, if you feel it is still to sticky, add a tablespoon or two of flour. Roll the dough into a rectangle, 52 cm long and 26 cm wide. (20 x 10 inches) Place the wide side in front of you and spread the filling onto the dough, leaving a small 1 cm (0.5 inch) margin on all sides. Cut the dough into 8 26 cm (10 inch) long strips. Place four strips on top of each other and repeat with the remaining four strips so that you have two long stacked dough strips. Cut each stack into four rectangles.
Grease a 22 cm bread pan (9-inch loaf pan) with oil or line with parchment paper. Place the dough stacks in the pan. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise again for 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
Bake the bread for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180°C (350°F) and bake for 25 more minutes or until the loaf is golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm or let cool completely. The bread tastes best the day it’s made.