Fat and Fluffy Are Not the Same Thing: Mohnhörnchen (Poppy-Seed Crescent Rolls)

I ordered a pound of poppy seeds for a particular baking project and after they arrived I promptly forgot what recipe I had planned to make. Sigh, I'm not as organized with my to-bake list as I used to be. To this day I still can't remember what recipe I originally had in mind. But after admiring the photo of the Mohnhörnchen (Poppy-Seed Crescent Rolls) in Classic German Baking and reading the description of the rolls as "fluffy and tender," I decided it seemed like a great way to use up some poppy seeds.

I used my Kitchenaid mixer to make the dough. I put all of the dough ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, instant yeast, milk, melted butter, and egg) into my mixing bowl and used the dough hook to stir and knead the dough until smooth. I let it rise for an hour before shaping the rolls. I didn't follow the shaping instructions in the recipe, which says to divide the dough into 10 pieces and roll each one out into a equilateral triangle with sides eight inches long. Even though the dough was very well behaved, I didn't think it was feasible to roll balls of dough into triangles, at least not if you want sharp corners and a well-defined shape. Instead, I rolled out all of my dough into a very long rectangle and then cut it into isosceles triangles the same way that you would cut croissant dough. I ended up with 12 crescents instead of the 10 specified in the recipe. I rolled up each triangle, formed it into a crescent shape, and let the rolls rise for about 20 minutes. Then I brushed them with egg wash (egg yolk beaten with a little milk) and sprinkled on poppy seeds. I used less than two tablespoons of poppy seeds for all 12 rolls -- not for lack of trying, but because I couldn't get many seeds to stick to the egg wash.
I really liked the puffy shape and dark golden color of the baked rolls. My rolls were fatter than Weiss's elongated versions; the second photo in this article is a cropped version of the cookbook photo and you can see another photo of these rolls from Weiss here. The difference in shape makes sense because if you start out with an equilateral triangle, you will get a longer and more slender crescent compared to one made with a tall isosceles triangle like the ones I cut.

These rolls were delicious and they made great mini steak sandwiches. However, I would not describe them as fluffy or particularly tender; they had a texture close to white sandwich bread. I was hoping for a texture along the lines of the Pillsbury crescent rolls that I have loved since I was a kid and they were definitely not that. Nonetheless, these rolls were easy to make and I would happily make and eat them again. And the next time I make them I will try to shape my crescents to make them skinnier -- I can see how the shape of the roll could affect its baking time and texture. Perhaps inside a firm fat crescent there is a slender fluffy roll just waiting to come out.

Recipe: "Mohnhörnchen (Poppy-Seed Crescent Rolls)" from Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss

Previous Posts:


Louise said…
When I read your previous post of the Glazed Nut Braid, I immediately thought of poppy seed. I grew up eating those and it's still a favorite. I think of that as winter food.
Immediately following the Glazed Nut Braid recipe in the cookbook, there's a recipe for a Poppy-Seed Braid that's on my to-bake list. Classic German Baking is definitely going to help me use up all of my poppy seeds!