Onion Poppy Seed Twist Bread

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Onions and poppy seeds have to be the most aromatic and delicious combination of flavors. They have been featured on Jewish breads from Bialys, Pletzels and Bagels for centuries. Here’s a new twist (sorry couldn’t resist the bad pun) on the classics. I started with whole wheat bread, spread the savory filling on the dough, rolled it up and then cut the log in two before twisting them together, so you can see the filling peek out. The result is beautiful, but the best part of this loaf if the aroma as it bakes. 

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1 1/2 pounds dough – (I made the Light Whole Wheat Bread using Platinum Yeast from Red Star Yeast from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, but the Whole Wheat Challah from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day or any other 5 minute dough you happen to have in the refrigerator will do the trick too.)

1 small onion, very finely chopped (use a food processor if you can’t get it chopped finely by hand)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup poppy seeds

Salt and pepper to taste

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Over medium heat, cook the chopped onions in the olive oil in a saute pan. In a small bowl combine the sautéed onions, poppy seeds, salt and pepper. Allow to cool.

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Pull out 1 1/2 pounds of dough and form it into a ball.

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Roll out the ball to a 1/4-inch thick rectangle.

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Spread the cooled onion filling over the dough.

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Roll the dough into a log.

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Pinch the seam shut.

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Cut the log in half.

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Twist the two pieces together.

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Let the dough rest on a piece of parchment, loosely covered with plastic for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 450°F (if you use Challah dough, reduce temperature to 375°F) with a baking stone (Cast Iron or steel work as well) in the center of the oven for at least 30 minutes (may take longer if you have a thick stone). Place a metal roasting pan at the bottom of the oven to catch water to create steam.

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Slide the loaf onto the preheated stone, add a cup of hot water to the roasting pan and bake the loaf for about 35 to 40 minutes or until caramel brown.



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41 thoughts on “Onion Poppy Seed Twist Bread

    1. Hi Joyce,

      I used the Light Whole Wheat from The New Artisan Bread in Five, but really any dough you have on hand will do well! The master recipe or olive oil or even Challah dough.

      Enjoy! Zoë

  1. Love how this bread looks and will taste when I make it. Can you give the dimensions of what the dough should be rolled out to? Using your chef’s knife as a reference I was guessing 12″ x ?. Thanks!!!!!

  2. They look great. May have to have a go. Just made some poppy seed bagels which, as you suggest, are brilliant as a flavour.

  3. Hi there! Just bought the book and have started my first batch of the Master dough. Already my hubby is asking if there is a Cheddar jalapeño variation! I can’t seem to find one but maybe I am not looking in the right place. I have a recipe for this done in a bread machine but the cheese and jalapeño are fully incorporated into the dough. Any suggestions for a reasonable facsimile?

    1. Hi Danielle,

      It is a great idea! Which book did you buy, we have 5 to choose from! 😉 If you have our New Artisan Bread in 5, then I would start with the Vermont Cheddar bread and add a cup of chopped jalapenos to the dough. If you want to make a half batch, just add a 1/2 cup to the half batch of dough.

      Cheers and enjoy! Zoë

      1. Thanks Zoe! I did, in fact, purchase the NABI5! So I should have the recipe you mentioned. I got the Kindle version and am learning how to get around. I am technology challenged! Thanks again!

      2. Hi Danielle,

        That is terrific, enjoy the bread and let me know how it comes out with the jalepenos. Be sure to drain them well before adding to the dough is you use the canned variety. If you use fresh, you will need far fewer, since they will be so much hotter.

        Thanks, Zoë

  4. Did this one yesterday, following the directions, but learned that a 450 degree oven is way too hot. The onions charred to a brittle black crisp before the bread was done. (FWIW, I’m aware my oven is too hot by 10 degrees necessitating setting it to 440 for any recipe calling for 450.)

    1. Hi Gin,

      Sorry to hear it burned the onions. I didn’t have the same experience. Where in the oven is your stone set? I wonder if it is placed higher than mine?

      Thanks, Zoë

      1. I have five levels in my oven. The stone was on the next to bottom one. I’ll try the recipe again, but I think I’ll go with the 375 degrees recommended for Challah dough and see how that goes.

  5. Thank you for the books (have Healthy Breads and the New Artisan…) and for sharing this recipe. I am looking forward to trying the recipe in this post. I am also looking forward to the new book as my wife has become GF in the last year and bemoans all of the bread she can’t eat yet I insist on continuing to bake. BUT I have a question. The Sweet Potato Spelt Bread recipe on page 177 of the Healthy Bread book. I have tried the recipe twice and both times I have the same outcome. The dough is very wet. When I shape the dough into a ball (with an incredible amount of flour for dusting) and allow it to rest the dough spreads more than any other dough I’ve used (from your books or otherwise). The dough is so wet that even after baking for 45 minutes the middle of the loaf is gooey. After baking and cooling the bottom of the loaf just caves. I have added 1.5 cups of flour and a couple of other alterations but there still seems to be something I’m missing. I’ve been so pleased with every other recipe in the books. Truly. I’ve used them with my sourdough starter without problem so modifying them has been fun. I especially enjoy using the recipes in grams in the new book. I am wondering if you have a weight conversion for the Sweet Potato Spelt bread? My thinking is that perhaps I am using way too big of a sweet potato? The recipes has a volume suggestion (3.5 c) and a density (packed cups) but that could still be really varied so maybe I am packing too heavily and getting too moist of a dough? I did find the correction for this recipe on your site but it didn’t affect the version of the book I have. Anyway, if you have a suggestion or a weight conversion on that recipe I may cure this failure.

  6. Hi Zoe, I wanted to get back to you about the Jalapeño Cheese Bread I made using your suggestions. I altered the recipe, adding twice the amount of cheese and 1/2 can diced jalapeño. It turned out quite delicious! My husband said it was just as good as what he remembered, though I thought it better due to the wonderful crust formed in the steamy oven! Thanks so much!

      1. Thanks Zoe!
        The mini food processor I used has the blade on the bottom, so I ended up with almost grated onions…wish me luck tomorrow morning!

      2. Hi Zoe. Thanks, that is good to hear. I thought I had the blade in the wrong location and it was overpureed.
        Two quickies if you have a second: 1. In this recipe: if the dough has not been refrigerated does it need to rise for an hour after being twisted? 2. Refrigerator rise trick: how tight should we wrap with plastic? I want to keep in the moisture but I’m always worried I am in impeeding on the rise if the plastic is touching the dough. My system is to wrap plastic 360 degrees around the pan a few tomes so that it catches itself. Otherwise I cant handle plastic wrap without it getting stuck to itsefl! (I’m wondering about how it works: Does wrapping tightly assist to keep in moisture? Is it necesary to wrap tightly with such wet dough as yours? Is the dough supposed to really rise in the fridge or just rest to prepare for oven spring? Will plastic in this kind of case really ruin this rise?). Thanks as always! 😉 -E

      3. Hi Eitan,

        You can shorten the rise if you are using fresh dough, try 40 minutes or about as long as it takes the stone to heat up.

        You don’t want to wrap it too tight or it will prevent rising and may stick to the dough. I usually lay the plastic over the loaf loosely and then lay forks on the edge of the plastic to prevent it from lifting up and drying out the dough.

        Hope that helps, Zoë

  7. Hi Zoe,
    Any recommendations for putting cinnamon/sugar/raisins/walnuts inside? Cream first into oil or butter? Will it work? Good idea/bad idea? Thanks for all your guidance! ;-D

    1. It’s even easier than that– just mix them in with the water at the start of the recipe. I spice up the doughs this way all the time.

      1. Thanks Jeff! I was hoping for a nice swirl pattern in the dough. Either way, do you have any ratios to add to a master recipe or brioche?

  8. Good day Zoe and Jeff!
    I have been taking pictures of my twists (and some other breads). Are you interested in readers’ pictures? If so, should we just hashtag when we post on Twitter and FB and instagram, or is there a central location/page/site you prefer we post where you and other readers can see them?
    -E

  9. Hi Jeff. Last week I twisted in the spice mix from the pecan cinnamon sticky buns into challah dough and it was delicious, baked @ 350. Using a master recipe this week. What temp should I bake it at to ensure the sugar doesnt burn? I’ve mever baked the master recipe at a lower temp. What will the impact on the bread be, or is safe for the sugar at the usual 450? Thanks!

    1. Need to protect that sugar–if the sugar’s on the surface, it’ll burn at 450. If the sugar’s only on the inside, you’ll be fine at 450. Increase the baking time if you lower the temp. Maybe 30 to 50% more baking time.

  10. Hello,
    I just got your new book. I’ve made the master recipe and the pizza dough. I thought the dough was a little sticky. I watched your link and you guys make it look so easy. Do you add any flour besides what is dusted on top before cutting the dough? Also, can any of the recipes be used for hamburger buns? If so, how would I go about making them and how long should they bake? How much dough would be used to form the buns?
    Thanks for your time.

    1. Assume you mean “The New Artisan Bread in 5…?” No, we don’t use anything other than the flour sprinkled on top. Make a smooth, sweeping cut with good follow-through, using a sharp serrated bread knife. See page 88 of the book for soft dinner buns– just make them flatter, don’t snip them, and consider doing the “softest results variation in step 5.

  11. I just made this. Carmalized the onions and baked it at 375 even though I did not use enriched dough. It baked up nicely in 40 minutes and turned out great.

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