Soft and delicate buns filled with a sweet poppy seed filling.
Heat 1¼ cup milk until lukewarm, add 2 tsp yeast and stir until dissolved. Let rise for15 minutes or until doubled in size. This ensures the yeast isn't expired and is still active.
Meanwhile, in a bowl of an electric mixer combine 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, salt, and 1/3 cup sugar. Sift 3½ cups flour in and add the risen milk/yeast mixture. With a hook attachment combine flour and the milk mixture, then continue to knead on slower speeds until the dough completely stops sticking to the bowl. It should look very smooth and gluey. You should be able to stretch a piece of dough so thin that you can see through it, without the dough tearing (a technique called "windowpane test"). The kneading should take about 15 minutes.
Next, add room temperature butter and knead until butter is fully incorporated and no traces of it are left on the bowl, about 5 minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball. Place in a well-greased bowl and oil the outside of the dough. Then, cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a draft-free place (fridge, top of cabinets, inside of the oven with the light on), allowing the dough double in size, about 1.5 -2 hours. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.
In a medium saucepan combine 1 cup poppy seeds, 1 qt milk, allow to come to a simmer and continue to cook for about 30 minutes. You can let it sit covered off the heat, for another 30 minutes.
Process the cooked poppy seeds in a grinder, food processor, or a powerful blender (like Vitamix) stopping and scraping it down the sides every minute or so.
Add 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract and mix.
Once the dough is doubled in size, punch it down. Remove from the bowl to a well-oiled surface and shape the dough into a log.
With a rolling pin, roll out the log to about 30 in x 12 in.
Spread the poppy seed filling along the length of the dough, leaving about 2 inches at the other end.
Roll it 'jelly-roll' fashion away from yourself and pinch the ends so it does not come apart.
With a sharp knife and a quick motion, cut the roulade about every 3 inches and transfer to a baking sheet, keeping the poppy seed buns about 3 inches apart.
How to shape a "heart" pastry bun: With a knife cut in the middle of each rolled piece, leaving the two pieces attached by about 1/2 inch of dough. Take the two ends, separate them and lay them inside part out facing up, side by side, making it look like a heart.
Cover with a clean kitchen or paper towel and place someplace warm (top of cabinets of fridge etc.) allowing the pastries double in size, about 40 minutes.
20 minutes into the proofing, preheat oven to 350F.
Whisk 1 egg yolk and 1 tbsp water, then brush pastries with egg yolk mixture right before placing them in the oven.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack.
Serving Suggestion: Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Best eaten right away, but will keep fresh for at least 6 hours.
Proofing tip: If your oven turns to a low temperature of 100F, you can place it in the oven and leave the door ajar. Otherwise, just put it on top of the fridge or cabinets where the temperature is higher.
**The poppy seed filling will look pretty dry. This way the filling doesn't leak out when baking.
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