Easter is right around the corner but I hope you haven’t planned out your complete Easter breakfast menu yet. This sweet Poppy Easter Lamb is worth a serious consideration.
Even outside the Easter season these sweet rolls make a wonderful breakfast treat and can be baked just in a round or square pan.
These days I seem to be reminded of many baked treats I grew up with in Germany (most recently this Cherry Chocolate Cake and these Plum Crumb Bars). I am not sure if it’s the pregnancy hormones that are making me somewhat nostalgic.
This super cute Easter Lamb is another baked treat from my childhood that I couldn’t get out of my head. Basically, it is yeast sweet rolls with a poppy seed filling that are arranged and baked in a lamb shape – to celebrate the resurrection and victory of the lamb, Jesus Christ at Easter.
In Germany you can buy prepared poppy seed filling mixes but here I had to cook my own. It is best to grind the poppy seeds first in a coffee/spice grinder or a food processor (see notes in recipe box below).
The filling is a delicious mixture of butter, milk, sugar and egg with poppy seeds. I had to stop myself from eating too much of the filling just by the spoonful while it was cooling down.
The rolls are made with my regular sweet roll dough recipe but I used only half of it. You can use the entire batch for a bigger lamb/larger rolls, just make sure to double the filling recipe then.
The dough is rolled into a long, narrow rectangle while some is reserved to form a head, legs and tail. The filling has to be completely cool before spreading on the dough. Roll up from the long side and cut into slices. Arrange the slices on a lined/greased baking tray in a lamb shape (or just plainly outside of Easter season).
Before baking the rolls are brushed with an egg wash. This gives them their warm golden colour.
Happy Easter to all of you and yours!
- 1 package (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
- ¼ cup (50 g) sugar
- 1 cup (235 ml) milk, warm
- 3 tablespoons (40 g) butter, melted
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3¼ cup (400 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup (110 g) poppy seeds
- ⅛ cup (30 g) butter
- ½ cup (115 ml) milk
- ½ cup (100 g) sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- Set aside ½ cup of the flour. Combine all other dough ingredients with the dough hook of your mixer until smooth and satiny. Only use remaining flour if needed.
- Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft free spot for 30 minutes (it should about double in size). You can preheat your oven to 200 F, then turn the oven off and let the dough rise inside the warm oven.
- I used only half of the yeast dough for this Easter Lamb. You can wrap the other half and freeze for later use, or double the filling amounts and make a larger Easter Lamb.
- Grind the poppy seeds into a fine powder. A coffee or spice grinder works best. You could also use a good food processor but it takes much longer and the machine will heat up, releasing the oils in the seeds. You'll end up with more clumpy seed grinds instead of powder. Both work though.
- In a small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in milk, sugar and salt and bring to a simmer. Whisking occasionally.
- Beat the egg in a bowl. Slowly drizzle about ½ cup of the hot butter mixture into the egg while whisking. This should take about 1 minute. Adding it too fast will cook the egg.
- Return the egg mixture to the saucepan and simmer for 3-5 minutes while whisking constantly until mixture thickens and turns light yellow. Remove from heat and stir in ground poppy seed. Let filling mixture cool fully before using; it will thicken. Makes about 1¼ cup of filling, but only about 1 cup is needed. Overfilling the rolls will make it a pain to slice and assemble.
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line or grease a large baking sheet.
- Roll out the dough half you are using into a long, but narrow rectangle. Cut straight edges and use the excess to form a head, legs and tail.
- Spread about 1 cup of poppy seed filling on the inside and roll up from the long side, leaving the seam at the bottom. Cut the roll and arrange the slices on the prepared baking sheet to form a lamb shape. Let rise for another 10-30 minutes in a warm place.
- Whisk together egg and water in a small bowl. Brush egg wash over the Easter Lamb slices.
- Bake the lamb for 20-25 minutes until golden. Dip a raisin in the egg wash and press into the hot head piece to make an eye.
- If you'd like to enjoy these poppy rolls freshly baked on Easter morning, you can place the assembled rolls covered in the fridge. In the morning let the dough come to room temperature (1/2 hour) and continue with steps 11 + 12.