Poppy Seed Filling for Cakes and Desserts

Masa Makowa

Here’s what makes a Polish-style Poppy Seed Roll so special:

This festive Poppy Seed Filling is made out of ground poppy seeds, with an abundance of chopped nuts, raisins and fragrant dried fruit. All the ingredients are joined together with mild honey. 

For the full list of ingredients & detailed instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post. But before you scroll, there’s important stuff to know below.

Poppy Seed Filling is great for yeast breads, sweet rolls, tarts, pastries and… for pierogi too!

Believe me when I say this: a ready-made canned Poppy Seed Filling from a store cannot compare.

Do you need any special ingredients or equipment to make this Poppy Seed Filling?

Most of the ingredients should be available in any major supermarket with an extensive baking department. Poppy seeds, raisins and dried fruit are easily available online as well. 

Equipment-wise, you’ll need a meat grinder (plus a disc with fine holes). You could try using a blender or food processor instead. Just be aware that there’s a risk of lumps and the texture of the filling will be looser. 

What could you make with Poppy Seed Filling?

You can make an array of desserts with this filling, here are some suggestions:

  • Poppy Seed Buns, Crescent rolls, Muffins, Cookies
  • Poppy Seed Cheesecake
  • Polish desserts, such as: Poppy Seed Roll (‘Makowiec’), Poppy Seed ‘Kołocz’ (Silesian cake) and Poppy Seed Pierogi. Skip the eggs to make ‘Kutia’, ‘Makówki‘/’Makiełki’ dessert and Poppy Seed Noodles.

Can you make this Poppy Seed Filling another way?

Eggs make this filling lighter and fluffy, but it’s okay to skip them. Without eggs, filling can be stored in the fridge for a later use.

What diets is this Poppy Seed Filling suitable for?

This recipe is suitable for vegetarians. To make this recipe vegan-friendly, skip the eggs and replace honey with 1/3 Cup (70 g) of sugar.

How long can you keep this Poppy Seed Filling in the fridge?

When done with eggs, it’s best to use it up immediately. 

If you’re making this filling ahead of time (with an intention of using it later), skip the eggs. You can store it in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Eggs can be added at the very last minute, immediately before baking your cake.

Can I freeze this Poppy Seed Filling?

Yes, you can – but remember to skip the eggs. Move the filling into a freezer-friendly container or a bag and label it with today’s date and a description. Use it up within 3 months. 

FAQ & troubleshooting

Here you’ll find answers to the most common questions regarding Poppy Seed filling.

🤔 How long should I soak poppy seeds?

Poppy seeds have a hard shell, so it’s worth soaking them in hot liquid (water or milk) for at least 30 minutes – or even better – overnight.

In this recipe, we’re cooking the poppy seeds in milk for 15 to 20 minutes and then grinding them 2 to 3 times. That makes them soft and ready to use in a filling.

🤔 Can you grind poppy seeds in a food processor or blender?

Yes, you can – but there’s a risk that the results might be unsatisfactory (unground lumps, a texture that’s too loose).

Smacznego!

Poppy seed filling

Homemade Poppy Seed Filling for Makowiec and other Cakes

Yield: 2.65 lb (1.2 kg)
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

This Poppy Seed filling is packed with raisins, other dried fruit and chopped nuts. It’s perfect for cakes (especially a Polish-style 'Makowiec' Poppy Seed Roll) and other desserts.

2.65 lb (1.2 kg) of filling is enough to make:

  • two 20 inch long (50 cm) 'Makowiec' rolls, or
  • four 10 inch (25 cm) rolls.

Ingredients

  • 14 oz (400 g) poppy seeds, blue or other
  • 3.5 oz (100 g) raisins
  • 2 tbsp almond spirit (Amaretto, almond ‘nalewka’) or gold rum
  • 4 tbsp orange peel, fresh
  • 2.5 cup (625 ml) whole milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1.8 oz (5 tbsp, 50 g) chopped walnuts
  • 1.8 oz (5 tbsp, 50 g) chopped almonds
  • 11 tbsp (80 g) powdered / icing sugar
  • 2 sticks (200-220 g) butter
  • 4 tbsp honey, mild (acacia, lime, multi-flower)
  • 3.5 oz (100 g) dried fruit mix (cranberry, apricot, prunes, dates)

Instructions

Cleaning Poppy Seeds

  1. To get rid of any impurities, soak poppy seeds in water first. Collect any dirt that floats to the top with a slotted spoon.
  2. Rinse the poppy seeds and drain them on a sieve lined with gauze (cheese cloth or a muslin square). It can stay there for up to an hour if you’re doing something else in the meantime.


Step 1: Prepping Ingredients

  1. [Raisins] Rinse raisins under running water. Place them in a small bowl and pour 2-3 tablespoons of almond spirit or golden rum over them. Cover the bowl with a small plate and set aside.
  2. [Fresh Orange Peel] Chop fresh orange peel (finely) and set aside.
  3. Pour 2.5 cups of milk into a cooking pot (1.5 qt / litre pot should be large enough) and bring it to boil.
  4. Drop all the poppy seeds in. Are they fully submerged in milk? If not, pour in some more.
  5. Reduce the heat to ‘low’ and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring from time to time. Poppy seeds absorb the milk quite a bit, so make sure there’s enough of it.
  6. Drain the poppy seeds on a sieve lined with gauze, cheese cloth or a muslin square. If you can, try to squeeze out as much milk as possible.


Step 2: Grinding Poppy Seeds

It’s best to grind them using a meat grinder, using a disc with the smallest holes. You could try a blender / food processor instead, but the end result will differ.

  1. Using a disc with the smallest holes, grind the poppy seeds 2 to 3 times.
  2. Separate yolks from egg whites. Whisk yolks together with 6 tablespoons of powdered sugar, set aside.
  3. Place chopped walnuts and almonds in a wide pot (or a deep frying pan). Add a pinch of salt and roast them for 4-5 minutes on a medium heat, not allowing the nuts to burn.
  4. Add in 2 sticks of butter. Add 4 tablespoons of honey and 4 tablespoons of chopped orange peel. Let the orange peel fry for a bit, a few minutes is enough.
  5. Add in ground poppy seeds, chopped dried fruit and alcohol-soaked raisins. Mix everything together with a spatula, gradually adding egg yolks mixed with powdered sugar.  Take the pot off the heat.
  6. Whip the remaining egg whites until stiff, adding 5 tablespoons of powdered sugar near the end of whipping. Gently add them into the poppy mass.
  7. And we're done! The poppy seed filling is ready to use in 'Makowiec' (Polish Poppy Seed Roll) or another dessert.

    Notes

    This recipe is a combo of a few different recipes (all in Polish), among others: 'Domowa Masa Makowa' by 'Kuchnia' Magazine and ‘Domowa Masa Makowa’ by Kwestia Smaku

    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 272Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 28mgCarbohydrates: 63gFiber: 1gSugar: 59gProtein: 2g

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    Kasia Kronenberger

    Kasia Kronenberger is the founder of Polonist, where she celebrates Poland’s very best food.
    She’s a self-taught home cook, who – through her own culinary attempts – wants to show you how to recreate Polish flavours at home, wherever that is.
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