Adventures in Cooking with Kiva: Sweet rolls in honor of a Kiva borrower

Photography by Tim Chambers
I was a pastry chef before my years at Kiva, so I love to lend to bakers around the world. My Kiva portfolio is full of pictures of mouthwatering pastries made by a wide variety of culinary artists—a baker of Lebanese flatbreads (man’oushe), a cake decorator in Honduras, a gingerbread baker from New Orleans. One of my favorite loans was to Mamasharif in Tajikistan—don't his pastries look amazing?! Poppy seeds are common in many Tajik recipes, so I created these poppy seed sweet rolls inspired by this delicious-looking photo. The nutty and slightly bitter flavor of the poppy seeds plays really well with the subtle hints of orange and warm cinnamon in these sweet rolls.

Poppy Seed Filled Sweet Rolls

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

3/4 cup warm milk (~100°F)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 orange, zested
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Poppy Seed Filling
3/4 cups of poppy seeds, ground
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoons honey (I used acacia honey from the Kiva Field Partner Honey Care that I purchased on a recent trip to Kenya)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 Tablespoon butter, melted
1 pinch of salt

Let's get baking!

In the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the warmed milk. Add a pinch of the sugar, give it a little stir, and let sit for a few minutes, until foamy. Using the paddle attachment, stir in the softened butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla, orange zest, cinnamon, salt, and 1 cup of the flour. Once it has formed a homogenous mixture, stir in the remaining flour.

Switch to the dough hook and knead at a low speed for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1 hour, until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make the poppy seed filling. Begin by grinding the poppy seeds, I used a clean coffee grinder for mine. Add all the ingredients in one bowl, give it a good stir and set aside.

Once the dough has doubled in size, lightly flour a workspace and roll out the dough into a 10x15 rectangle. Spread the filling evenly over the dough leaving a 1/2" on one long end with no filling.

Roll the dough, from the long end using the clean end to seal it shut.

Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces, gently push up the bottom to create a spire. Place the rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Allow the rolls to rise for another hour, until doubled in size.

Once doubled in size, place the rolls in a preheated 350°F oven. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until golden brown on the tops and bottom.

Devour while dreaming of the beautiful snow capped mountains of Tajikistan.

About the author

Christina Marie Chambers

Christina Marie Chambers is responsible for leading internal practices that improve employee experience and help build a supportive, empowering,  and productive company culture. She also supports the President, Premal Shah. She came to Kiva by way of Stanford, where she was the Executive Assistant to the Chair of the Genetics Department. Before Stanford, Christina Marie spent a number of years in Washington DC working at a political think tank and as a pastry chef. She also lived in Grouches-Luchuel, France where she learned to make croissants from scratch and taught angst filled teenagers English. She grew up in Wisconsin and picked up an International Affairs degree at Florida State.