Harwinton Residents’ Baking Contest: Lemon Poppy Seed Rolls


For the Dough

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • (1) 1⁄4 ounce packet active dry yeast (2 1⁄4 teaspoons)
  • 2 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus more for the bowl and the baking dish
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Filling

  • 1⁄2 cup canned poppy seed filling
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt

For the Icing

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at
    room temperature
  • 1⁄3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Baking Instructions

  1. Make the dough: Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over low heat until warm but not hot, about 100°. Remove from the heat and sprinkle in the yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk the flour, granulated sugar and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Whisk the melted butter, egg yolks and vanilla into the milk-yeast mixture, then pour into the well and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together into a wet shaggy dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead, dusting with flour as needed, until the dough comes together into a loose, slightly sticky ball, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Transfer the dough to a buttered bowl, turning to coat. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 hour 15 minutes to 11⁄2 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, make the filling: Mash the poppy seed filling with the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt in a small bowl with a fork until combined; set aside.
  5. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface; pat and roll out into a 10-by-18-inch rectangle. Spread the filling over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border on one long side. Brush the clean edge with water, then tightly roll up the dough into a log, starting with a long side and rolling toward the clean edge; pinch the seam to seal.
  6. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Slice the dough log into 12 pieces with a sharp knife and arrange cut-side up in the dish. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°. Uncover the rolls and bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the icing: Mix the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice and mix until smooth.
    Spread on the warm rolls.

The secret to these sweet rolls is canned poppy seed filling! Look for it with the canned pie fillings.

Makes 12 rolls.