domestic virtues

it’s not that I don’t like people, I just prefer my own company to theirs

A friend mentioned he wanted to try making poppy seed rolls. Under the cut is my grandmother’s recipe. There is a lot of sugar and butter in it, so it’s not the most healthy of cakes, but it’s really, really good, you guys. Indulge yourselves, once in a while. We only make this at Christmas, so it’s definitely a treat.

Poppy Seed Roll (Makowiec)

poppy seed filling:

Boil 1L of milk and pour it over 400g washed blue poppy seeds. (You don’t have to use blue poppy seeds, but they’re better.) Cook for 30 minutes. Drain the poppy seeds and run them through a fine hole plate meat grinder. (You can buy ground poppy seeds – if you do, you don’t have to cook the seeds & milk, just pour the boiling milk in, let it sit for a few minutes, then drain.)

Chop some nuts, raisins, candied orange peels (whatever you want, in whatever quantities you want, really), add to the poppy seeds. Dissolve 3/4 cups honey or sugar and add to the mix. Put it all in a metal pot, and simmer on the lowest heat for 15-20 minutes. You may need to add some water to the mix as you go, so that the mix doesn’t get too dry. You want it sticky!

Once the mix has been simmered, let it cool. Beat 3-4 egg yolks with a cup of sugar. Whip the egg whites into stiff peaks. Add the whole thing to the cooled poppy seed mix. Make sure the mass is sticky and almost too wet. You can add an ounce (or three) of vodka or rum to the mass for added flavor (this amount will cook off during the baking, but it adds a nice kick to the flavor).

It’s best to make the filling a day in advance so all the flavors have a chance to mix together.


500g flour
150g butter
50g yeast (mix with 5 tbsp heavy cream)
vanilla sugar
2 heaping tbsp icing sugar
2 whole eggs
pinch of salt

Using a pastry cutter (or a big knife), mix the flour and butter, then add the rest of the ingredients and knead. The dough should be loose and shiny.

Pre-heat oven to 185C/375F. Grease several pans (this recipe makes enough for four medium cakes, so adjust proportions accordingly) and coat them with bread crumbs to avoid the cakes sticking to the pans.

Roll out the dough into rough rectangle shapes. Place the filling on the dough and spread it out (the thickness of the filling is a personal preference – I like to have more filling than dough, but there are traditions that say the dough and the filling should be of equal thickness). Place in prepared pans, brush the top with whipped egg (the whole egg), and bake for around 45 minutes. The cakes should be a dark golden brown color. They may crack during the baking, but that’s OK.

When the cakes are still warm, but not overly hot, make some icing (whip 1 egg white with lots of icing sugar, adding the sugar slowly, until the whole thing thickens – you’re aiming for pourable icing, not just a stiff beaten egg white) and pour over the cakes. Let them cool completely (the icing will harden).

Serve and enjoy! If anyone has any questions about the recipe, let me know, I’ll try to help out as best as I can.

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