Poppy seed brioche

A sweet and savoury eastern European-style brioche from Karaway Bakery

“Sweet? No, savoury. No, no—sweet! But with a slight hint of savoury?” Such were the musings of the Friday feeling team as they chewed their way through the first bite of Karaway Bakery’s poppy seed brioche. It was quite the roller coaster.

First the brioche itself, lightly sweet and soft as an eiderdown, then the crackling, popping crunch of the poppy seeds, smeared in a sugary paste inside the feathery folds. This too was sweet initially, before giving way to an unusual, but by no means unpleasant, bitterness.

Part fruity, part nutty, part aniseedy, part indescribable, the flavour changes as you chew. Indeed, it changes once more after swallowing. We don’t use poppy seeds much in the UK, but in eastern Europe they are one of the most popular ingredients for pastries going.

Highly addictive
“These are covered in poppy seeds, not the odd spot here and there. They are eaten at breakfast, at tea time, as a snack—they’re perfect for the ‘hit the floor at four’ feeling when you need a sweet treat,” says Sarah on the stall. There they are associated with Christmas and Easter—and, she warns, “highly, highly addictive”.

They’re sold in plastic wrappers, but don’t let that put you off. “They are baked fresh every morning, but because brioche dries out so fast it’s better packaged, unless you eat it the second it appears on the stall.”

Make sure, therefore, that you are ready to eat when you do remove the plastic wrapping. It doesn’t last, for one—but it also has the sort of quality that means you simply can’t stop eating it until you’ve decided whether it’s sweet, savoury or something more.