Pros: Goes a long way. Nutty addition to lemoncakes. A 'memory bread' as legend goes
Cons: Addictive !
Ever seen a rolled flaky sugary-coated bun sit on a bakery shelf just waiting to be dipped in coffee or tea ? You see a swirl of black running parallel to the swirled bun serving as a glue between the layers whirled in a wheel and presented with a dollup of whipped cream on top. The dessert is called a ‘potica’ and its origin is deep Midwestern in the coal camps and mining towns of northern New Mexico. It is a bread that unlike the fruitcake, is more cake-like and nutty instead of fruity. Some who brought it over to the American west were Slovenian miners who indulged in a healthful supplement to black coffee.
I discovered potica many moons ago. I also learned not all potica is the same, fillings vary and flavoring added to crust can be experimented with. This particular Potica has a sugary lemon poppy-seed filling in a flaky crust that just melts in your mouth. Spice companies vary in degree of pureness so McCormick being 100% pure of whatever spice is bottled, its in there 100%.
The McCormick spice I chose is one of a few I am really not fond of because I rarely make any foodstuff items calling for this spice; however, I wanted something different than the average sugar cookie and this tastes sooo good ! McCormick stands for quality. Poppy Seed is a seed from the seed pods of the opium plant. At Wikipedia, it states these are “kidney-shaped and cultivated by various civilizations for thousands of years” but when I pour a few into my palm the shape is more like little semi-circle diskettes, teeny weeny purplish-black seeds.
They are crunchy, nutty, and reminiscent of the bakery-days when I apprenticed for a shop in Ulster County, NY as well as some time spent on weekends locally here in Cleveland for a friends bakery. The sweet-smell of this nutty seed while roasting on top of bagels, breads, and folded into custards and fillings and puddings, really entices the odiferous sense. Since McCormick Poppy Seed is all natural, it can be added as is to many different dishes; I opted for including another holiday dessert item here as the review fit appropriately with quality AND actual product !
In a little plastic bottle with pop-top lid for measuring spoon fit, this little 1.25 ounces goes a long way. It is equally inexpensive, roughly $2.oo or less in your dollar-store chains. The nifty six-pack serves many many months of bakery bliss ! You don’t need much as it is concentrated in its own 100% harvested state so a little flavors quite well. There are those that mix more than 12 ounces of raw ground poppy seed and canned filling into what makes the Potica melt in your mouth but with my McCormick Poppy Seed in hand, I am going scratch on this dessert recipe offered below from the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook 1980.
RECIPE for Poppy Seed Poticas
*I do advise to put seven hours reserved for the making and then finally serving this wonderful bread of memory as some folks might call it. The recipe below provides two loaves.
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
½ teaspoon salt
1 package of active dry yeast
3 ½ to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk (prefer organic)
½ cup butter or margarine
1 whole egg
Poppy Seed Filling (see below)
1 egg yolk beaten
Preparation Directions for the Potica:
1.) In large stainless steel bowl combine sugar, lemon peel, salt, yeast and one cup of the flour. In 1 quart saucepan over very low heat warm the milk and butter until about 120 - 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The butter does not need to melt.
2.) With mixer at lowest speed fold or beat gently the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients; beat till just mixed but not thoroughly. Increase the speed of mixer to medium to beat for two more minutes. Try and occasionally scrape the bowl while the mixer is doing its thing, ya know help it out some. *Remember we are having fun here, right ? Beat in the whole egg and 1 cup of remaining flour to thicken batter. Beat this for two more minutes again occasionally scraping the bowl with your handy rubber spatula. With a spoon stir in the additional remaining about 1 ½ cups to make soft dough.
3.) Now stand about a foot above the counter top and maybe floor where you can just a throw a good dusting of flour on an even surface. Take the dough out of the stainless steel bowl and knead that baby ! Use those fingers and palms and knuckles to knead it as if it were the only thing left to do on this earth ! Ha ha ! Anyway, make it smooth and elastic after about five minutes of good kneading. Shape into a ball; place in greased larger bowl, cover with the grease coating from top to bottom and cover closed tight to let rise until doubled in size roughly an hour or so later.
Prepare the Poppy Seed Filling:
In a medium stainless steel bowl, combine one 12 ounce can of poppy-seed cake and pastry filling which is just corn syrup and poppy seeds ground up but you can substitute light karo syrup and McCormick Poppy Seeds calling for 12 ounces also. You will add a ½ cup of finely chopped walnuts, 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; set this aside. In smaller stainless steel bowl with mixer at high speed beat one egg white (ya know the other egg that only needed the yolk for a wash you use the white part here) whipping until soft peaks form. You will fold this into the poppy seed mixture gently, when called to do so.
In the meantime, take a shower, paint your toenails, spiffy yourself in a subtle fashion cause its almost time to taste these delightful little wheels of yummy. On with the review . . .
4.) Punch down the dough when you have taken it away from where it was rising, preferably in a warm humid or so atmosphere, turn it onto a lightly floured surface; cut in half, cover and let rise another 15 minutes.
5.) Grease two cookie sheets with vegetable shortening and lightly dusted flouring. With a lightly dusted rolling pin, roll one dough half into 18” by 12” rectangle. Spread half filling on dough, to within ½ inch of sides. From an 18” edge, tightly roll dough, jelly-roll fashion; pinch ends to seal. Arrange dough in flat coil, seam side down, on a cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover with towel; let rise until doubled, about 1 ½ hours.
6.) Turn your oven on so it can get up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit while brushing the loaves with beaten egg yolk (to ensure crispiness). Bake these at 25 to 30 minutes until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Remove from oven and place on wire cooling racks.
My epinion on this particular sweet delicious dessert item for the holidays is: YUMMY even if you are not too fond of the poppy seed after-taste. I did mention there is a nuttiness to it but also a woodsy smell that permeates your senses evoking a memory of traditional holiday flair. The flaky buttery melt-in-your-mouth and tasty filling not grity nor dry, makes using McCormick Poppy seed for some desserts a great addition to our spice rack that serves as her home.
Is she on yours ?
Thank you for reading and
**Suggestions: taken from container-- Add 2 tablespoons to sugar cookie dough for 5 dozen cookies or 1/3 cup added to a lemon poundcake recipe.
***DO NOT EAT THIS if you are getting any bloodwork done in the next month, the results come back with speculation on what drugs you might be on, even if you are not.