Czech Poppy Seed Braid Bread (Babovka)

Here’s another bread recipe that I found in my mom’s old recipe box in the very back of the kitchen drawer. I’m not sure where it came from, but it looks like it was clipped out of a newspaper. It’s a little fancier than most of the breads I attempt, but still pretty basic.


1 1/2 cups very warm milk (105° – 115°F)

1 package active dry yeast

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup vegetable shortening (I used butter)

1 egg, lightly beaten

4 to 4 1/2 cups of sifted flour (I used all 4 1/2 cups and forget to sift it)

1 tablespoon milk or cream (I went with milk)

2 tablespoons of fresh poppy seeds (This made me giggle. Are poppy seeds from the grocery store fresh? Or do they need to be straight from the poppy?)

1. Combine milk, yeast, sugar, shortening, and egg in a large bowl. Beat well with mixer. The slowest speed on my mixer is not very slow, so this was a bit of a problem. There was some definite splashing, but my kitchen’s not very clean anyway so I wasn’t too concerned.

2. Beat in the flour one cup at a time, which should make a stiff, sticky dough. Again, my mixer gave me problems. The dough was really sticky, and it quickly crept up the beaters and then flung little bits of itself at the wall. I had to mix it the rest of the way by hand.

3. Turn dough onto a floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place the dough in a well-greased bowl, turning to bring the greased side up. Cover with a clean cloth, and put in warm place, away from drafts, until it is doubled in volume, about 1 hour. I followed a suggestion from a reader (thanks!), and popped mine in the oven to rise since it’s a windy day and my house is old and drafty.

4. After the dough has risen, punch it down and divide it into 3 equal parts. Knead lightly, and then shape them each into a chunky 12 inch long roll. Brush each roll lightly with milk, then roll it in poppy seeds until evenly coated. Pinch the 3 ropes of dough together at one end, and then braid!

5. Gently lift the braid into a well-greased loaf pan and cover with a cloth. Let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, about 40 minutes this time.

6. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes, until browned. The loaf should sound hollow when tapped with your fingertips. Remove from loaf pan and cool before cutting.


Obviously, you don’t have to braid this if you don’t want to. It can just be cooked as a regular loaf. But sometimes fancy is fun! Clearly I need to work on my braiding skills though. Things got a little bulgy.


6 thoughts on “Czech Poppy Seed Braid Bread (Babovka)

  1. good thing you have more energy than your mother! Imagine having to write a blog about pruning for two hours! Even worse–what about the accompanying photos!

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