Mohnkucken fans in Cincinnati are in luck! I happened to find a local bakery that makes something similar to Mohnkuchen. Although its neither German nor family owned, Breadsmith Bakery on Hyde Park Square has a poppy seed babka that is rolled in poppyseed paste.
They’re a chain out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, founded in 1993. But I like their motto “old world values in a new world.” Using European artisan bread recipes, all their breads are made by hand, without preservatives and never frozen. They’re then baked in a 5 ton European hearth stone oven. Their menu of breads ranges in the hundreds, so I’m guessing they have the most extensive list of European pastries and breads around.
I had a neighbor who raved about Breadsmith’s orange-chocolate bread and thought I’d stop by before the New Year, and before my carb-ban started up again, to sample their breads. I bought a cinnamon raisin roll and told the clerk it was my last two days to eat bread before my new year’s health kick. She replied, with a cheeky smile, “We’ll be here when it doesn’t work out !”
When I asked her if they did special recipes for customers and told her that I couldn’t find any Cincinnati area bakeries that carried Mohnstrudel during the holidays she said, “Oh we have something like that.” Then she told me about their babka and other poppyseed items.
The poppyseeed babka dough is flavored with lemon and dried orange peel, and probably tastes more like a mohnstrudel. It’s probably as close as we’ll come to Mohnkuchen in Cincinnati until a German Oma shows up a Findley Market with a homemade authentic version!
Breadsmith also carries a poppyseed Hamantaschen in the spring around Easter, which is a golden, triangular, delicate cookie filled with poppyseed paste. It’s really a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish cookie served around Purim . Although made with a variety of fillings like apricot (one of my favorites) cherry, fig, chocolate, raspberry, raisins, or apples, the poppyseed version is the oldest and most traditional. Israelite Queen Esther, who’s book of the Bible, describes the origin of Purim (called Megilla in Jewish texts), was said to only have eaten nuts because she didn’t have access to kosher foods – thus the use of poppyseeds in this Purim pastry.
I think the lesson of “if you seek, you shall find”, applies. Or maybe it’s if you stop looking, the right thing will fall in your lap. We’re still talking about food, right?!