Poppy seeds are cultivated from Papaver Somniferum and are used to flavour breads, rolls, cakes and pastries in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cookery. They have a nutty aroma and taste, particularly when roasted. Poppy seeds can be added to many recipes, either as an integral part of the recipe or as a garnish that adds colour and flavour, as, for example, in a poppy seed plait, which has the poppy seeds sprinkled on the bread after proving and glazing. Their flavour marries well with citrus, so try Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins which are finished with a lemon syrup glaze when they are hot out of the oven or make an Orange and Poppy Seed Cake, adding poppy seeds and orange zest to a sponge mix, then soaking with an orange syrup once cooked.
Why not make biscotti, using a mix of hazelnuts, almonds and poppy seeds? Or use ground almonds and poppy seeds to make an unusual shortbread or biscuits. If you want to add them to savoury recipes, try adding them to a cheese scone recipe, make savoury muffins adding spiced onions and poppy seeds or simply scatter them over cheese biscuits made with blue cheese.
Fiona Burrell, co-author of Leiths Baking Bible, from the Leiths School of Food and Wine