Light and fluffy lemon poppy seed buns are perfect for any brunch! Not as sweet as traditional cinnamon rolls and bursting with lemon flavor, these rolls are easy to make and can be prepped the night before!
Light and fluffy Lemon Poppy Seed Buns
If you’ve been following me for a little while, you know that there is a traditional German breakfast pastry called a schnecke (snail). It is one of my favorites, it’s a relatively thin spiraled pastry, filled with anything from red currants to nuts, or even poppy seeds.
German’s like a lot of poppy seeds, not just sprinkled into the dough – if you’ve never really tasted poppy seeds – now is your chance! So I thought why not combine soft, fluffy, delicious cinnamon rolls with the classic lemon poppy seed flavor, and a traditional German pastry.
Tips for making Lemon Mohn Rolls
- These rolls taste best the day they are made, so I have also tested to see that the recipe can be cut in half. Follow the recipe exactly, just cut all measurements in half. EXCEPT: you still need at least 7 g of active dry yeast and 30 grams of butter in the dough. When rolling the dough out, roll it out to 9″ by 14″ and start rolling from one of the 9″ ends.
- When you are making a yeasted dough make sure to knead it for a while. The bread should become one clean ball with relatively smooth sides. Keep kneading for a couple minutes after it comes together.
- Don’t be shy with the filling! The poppy seed filling should be applied in a thick layer but leave about 1/2″ of dough exposed on two short sides and one long side.
- These lemon poppy seed buns can be prepared the night before and baked in the morning for breakfast. If you do so, make the rolls as instructed. Then instead of proofing them again for 1.5 hrs, cover them with plastic and place them in the fridge overnight. Take them out 1 1/2 hours before you plan to bake them in the morning!
- Do not bake these in a ceramic dish – they won’t bake through and you will be left with raw buns! These can be baked on a baking sheet – just make sure to leave about 1″ between the rolls so they can grow. Or you can use metal cake pans as described in the recipe.
Ingredients for Lemon Poppyseed buns
- All Purpose Flour: Any all purpose flour will work for these! I have not yet tried any other flours with this recipe.
- Sugar: This recipe uses granulated sugar in the dough and filling as well as powdered sugar in the glaze.
- Milk: The lemon buns use milk as the liquid in the dough; however, they will also work with non-dairy milks such as almond or light coconut milk.
- Butter: The butter adds moisture to the dough.
- Eggs: I use standard large eggs from the store
- Yeast: In this recipe, instant yeast is used. However, if you are using active dry, simply bloom the yeast in the milk alone first and then proceed with the recipe.
- Lemon Zest: Lemon zest adds flavor to the dough and the filling. Make sure to wash the lemons first! If your lemons seem small feel free to add more zest!
Poppy Seed Filling Ingredients
- Mohn (poppy seeds): I recommend looking for poppy seeds in bulk rather than in the spice jars at the grocery store. The jars don’t have very much in them and are quite pricey. I find mine at a local bulk store and at a Mediterranean specialty grocery store. You can also order them through the link at the beginning of this bullet.
- Milk: The milk in the filling can be traditional or any non dairy milk.
- Granulated Sugar: To balance out all of the tart lemon flavor, granulated sugar is needed in the filling of the buns.
- Rum (optional): Rum adds flavor to the filling (without it tasting like rum) and the alcohol will bake out. However, if you don’t want any alcohol, feel free to omit it from the recipe!
- Cream of Wheat: Cream of Wheat can be found at most grocery stores and cooks up similar to oats. It is used in the filling and adds a lot of moisture without making it feel heavy! If you don’t have cream of wheat or can’t find it, you can use oats just make sure that they cook down until they are quite thick, similar to polenta.
- Lemon Juice: Rather than a traditional thick icing, these buns have a delicious lemon glaze made from lemon juice and powdered sugar.
How to make Lemon Poppy Seed buns
Make the Dough
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add in the flour, sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine. Then add in the lukewarm milk, yeast, butter, eggs, and lemon zest.
- Knead with a dough hook attachment for 10 to 15 minutes on low speed until the dough comes together in a smooth ball.
- Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic. Leave somewhere warm to rise for 2 hrs.
Make the Poppy seed filling
- In a medium sauce pot, combine the milk and poppy seeds.
- Bring to a boil over medium high heat – whisking continuously. Then reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until you have a very thick consistency.
- Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the sugar, poppy seeds, rum, and lemon zest. Leave to cool to room temperature
Assemble the lemon buns
- After the 2 hrs have passed and the dough has doubled in size, on a floured surface, roll the dough out to a rectangle that is 14″ x 18″.
- Spread the filling over the dough, leaving a half inch edge on two of the short sides and one long side. Roll it up starting with the long side that has no border, and roll all the way to the other long side.
- With the roll in front of you, make marks with a knife, every 1 1/4″ to show where each slice should be made.
- Grease two 9″ metal cake pans and place the 6-7 rolls in each one. Cover the pans with plastic and let rise somewhere warm for another 1.5 hrs.
Baking & Finishing touches
- While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 350 F (or 325 if convection).
- Bake the buns for 20-25 min until golden brown. Rotate the pans after 15 minutes to make sure they brown evenly.
- While the buns are baking, melt the butter and whisk together the lemon juice and powdered sugar to make the icing. The icing should be thick but still runny.
- When the buns are finished baking, allow them to cool for 5 minutes. Then tip them out onto a large plate and then tip back onto whatever you plan to serve them on.
- Brush with the melted butter followed by the lemon glaze.
- Enjoy warm!
Lemon Poppy Seed Buns
- Stand Mixer
- 600 grams ap flour
- 150 grams granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 300 ml milk lukewarm
- 10 grams instant yeast
- 30 grams butter softened
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 lemon zest
Poppy seed Filling
- 500 ml milk
- 85 grams cream of wheat
- 120 grams poppy seeds
- 40 grams granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp rum optional
- 1/2 lemon zest
- 60 grams butter melted
- 500 grams powdered sugar
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
Mixing the Dough
- Add the flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine. Then add in the remaining dough ingredients – the milk should be warm but not hot.
- With the dough hook attachment, knead the dough until it comes together into a smooth ball. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
- Shape the dough gently into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place for 2 hours. It should double in size.
- While you wait, make the poppyseed filling.
Making the Filling
- Pour milk and cream of wheat into a medium sauce pan and cook on the stove over medium heat until it becomes the texture of a thick porridge.
- Then, add in the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Add a splash of milk if it seems too stiff but the mixture should be stiff so that it doesn't all squeeze out of the rolls.
- Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool – it should not be cold when you spread it on the dough.
Rolling and Baking the dough
- After the two hours have passed, roll the dough into a rectangle that is 14" x 18".
- Spread the poppyseed mixture over the dough, make sure to leave at least a 1/2" border on 2 of the short sides and 1 long side of the dough.
- Roll the dough up starting from the long side that has the filling all the way to the edge. It should be a pretty tight roll, but do not squeeze so hard that all of the filling comes out.
- Once the dough is fully rolled, pinch the seam of the dough closed with your fingers and lay the roll out in front of you, seam side down.
- Measure out marks 1 1/4" apart along the top of the roll, to mark where you will slice it. Make sure to do this before you start cutting, otherwise your measurements will become off and the rolls will no longer be uniform.
- Place the 6 to 7 of the rolls in each of the greased 9" cake pans, there should be some room for them to expand.
- Cover both of the cake pans with plastic and place somewhere warm to rise again for 1 1/2 hrs.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F and bake the rolls for 20 – 25 min until golden brown all over.
- Allow the rolls to cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then flip out onto a cooling rack, then flip again onto whichever dish you will be using to serve them.
- Brush the rolls with the melted butter. Then, make the glaze: mix together the powdered sugar and the lemon juice until you have a thick icing. Spread over top of the rolls and enjoy!