Russian Poppy Seed Braid Loaf
- For the Dough:
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 large egg yolks
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 to 2 (11-ounce) cans poppy seed filling
In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup warm water, yeast and 1/4 cup sugar and set aside. Scald milk and stir in butter until melted. Let cool slightly. Add egg yolks and mix. Transfer to a large bowl or stand mixer and add yeast mixture, combining until mixed.
Add flour and salt a little at a time to make a soft, sticky dough. Knead on medium speed until a smooth dough forms, about 8 minutes. Cover and let rise until doubled (about 1 hour).
Punch down dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a rectangle that measures about 10 inches wide by 20 inches long. (Dough should be about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick). Spread poppy seed filling over dough leaving a 1-inch border on each of the shorter ends. Brush shorter ends with egg wash. Starting from shorter end, roll dough, jelly-roll style, into a tight log.
Press ends of rolled dough to make a neat log about the length of the prepared pan. With a sharp knife, cut log of dough in half lengthwise. Watch the Chef's Technique. Carefully twist the two pieces of dough together and place into prepared pan.