Posted by: 4whateveritsworth | September 28, 2011

Grandma Julie’s Poppy Seed Bread

My grandmother was always baking.  She was from a generation that never bought any store baked goods; everything was homemade. She baked regularly until she was in her early 90’s.

Every Friday she baked a challah to welcome Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath).  When the weather was dismal, she baked. She said baking always lifted her spirits.

Her freezer was always stocked with cookies. They never needed defrosting.  The freezer was nearly our first stop upon entering her house; we ate her baked goods directly from the freezer.

I have a handful of her recipes written in her handwriting.  Perhaps the one I make most often is her recipe for poppy seed bread. It’s written on yellow lined paper, split down the middle, stained, definitely weathered.  Occasionally I’ve misplaced it and temporarily panicked.  You’d think I’d have it memorized by now.  I always have a loaf in my freezer. It’s a favorite of mine, my father’s, and other family members.  Often I enjoy a slice on a Saturday morning.

A restaurant that I used to frequent for breakfast, the Blue Bird Inn, often served poppy seed bread, which was as close to my grandmother’s as any. They served a generous piece, sliced, slathered with butter, and grilled.  I can taste it now.  Now when I enjoy a slice of my poppy seed bread, I toast it, minus the butter. It intensifies the flavor and adds a crunchy texture to each bite.

I have added a few changes to my grandmother’s recipe, but basically it’s still the same.

Grandma Julie’s Poppy Seed Bread

At the suggestion of a friend, I soak the poppy seeds in the milk (in the fridge) required for the recipe.  Soaking for greater than an hour or longer (overnight) helps to soften the seeds.  If you forget to do this or choose not to, then just continue with the recipe as noted below.

Makes 2 loaves or 1 very large loaf, or  3 or 4  mini loaves.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray pans with Pam or similar vegetable spray, or grease with butter.

2  1/4 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 cup sugar (recipe calls for 1 cup, but I use less)

3/4 cup poppy seeds

1  1/4 cup milk (I use skim)

3 eggs

3/4 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon vanilla

optional: add 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon zest

Combine flour, sugar, poppy seeds (if you aren’t soaking them, otherwise add them with the wet ingredients later), and  baking powder in a bowl.

Beat eggs to blend in another bowl. Add milk (poppy seeds if they are soaking in the milk), oil, and vanilla. Please note:  In case I’m confusing you regarding soaking or not soaking the poppy seeds, you are only adding 3/4 cups of poppy seeds and 1  1/4 cups of milk in the entire recipe.

Add dry ingredients , stir just until smooth.  Add lemon zest (optional) and stir.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes if making larger loaves – – less time, if making smaller loaves.

When cake tester comes out clean, it’s done.

Serve warm, toasted or at room temperature.

It couldn’t be easier. Enjoy it toasted with a cup of coffee. Ahh….

Until my next post, 4 whatever it’s worth…..





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