Polish Poppy Seed Roll (Makowiec)

Makowiec zawijany / Strucla z makiem

Poppy Seed Roll is a frosted yeast cake, rolled and filled with dense poppy seed filling.

Our Polish version is known as ‘Makowiec’ (pronoun.: Mak-ov-yetz) and is overflowing with chopped nuts, dried fruit and liquor-soaked raisins.

It’s the perfect traditional treat for your family and friends during the festivities.

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.

To learn more about the interesting history of ‘Makowiec’ (and the surprising controversies around this cake), check out the article on Culture.pl

Do you need any special ingredients to make this Poppy Seed Roll?

This cake’s star ingredient is the Poppy Seed Filling. It should be jam-packed with nuts and fragrant dried fruit.

  • You can use a store-bought filling from a can. In Poland it’s available in any larger supermarket. Internationally, you’ll find it at Polish stores.
    Sadly, most of these ready-made products are of a terrible quality. They’re too sweet (sweetened with corn syrup or sugar instead of real honey); with little to none nut & fruit content. Which brings me to the second option:
  • Using a homemade filling. It’s easy to do, and you’re fully in control of what goes in. Make a lot in advance (skipping the eggs) and store in a freezer for a later use.
    Here’s a detailed Poppy Seed Filling recipe.

You’ll also need some yeast, either active dry or fresh. 

The rest of the ingredients should be easy to get in any store.

What could you serve with Makowiec?

In Polish cuisine, ‘Makowiec’ is a Christmas and Easter dessert, served alongside other cakes. 

Poppy Seed Roll goes well with hot beverages, as well as red and white wines (sweet,  semi-sweet or a sweet Tokay wines).

Can you make this Poppy Seed Roll another way?

Personally I wouldn’t. That’s a traditional way to bake his cake.  

What diets is this Makowiec suitable for?

This recipe is suitable for vegetarians.

How to store this Poppy Seed Roll?

Poppy Seed Roll stays fresh for a long time (for a cake that is 😃). It tastes best when fresh, but  you can bake it up to 2 days before serving. 

Store ‘Makowiec’ in a cool place for up to 4 days, covered with a towel. Unless you live in a hot climate, there’s no need to refrigerate it.

Can I freeze this Poppy Seed Roll?

Yes, this Poppy Seed Roll freezes very well.

Just wrap it with cling film, stick a label on (with date and description) and place in the freezer. Thaw for 2 hours before serving, at room temperature. 

Note: If you’re baking this roll with an intention of freezing – skip the frosting and decoration.  Frosting turns runny and sticky in the freezer. Decorate the roll once defrosted.

Smacznego!

Poppy Seed Roll decorated with frosting, raisins and nuts.
Poppy Seed Roll, sliced (Polish 'Makowiec')

Polish Poppy Seed Roll (Makowiec Zawijany)

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes

This traditional Poppy Seed Roll is a Polish classic. A rich poppy seed filling (packed with nuts and dried fruit) hides between crispy layers of buttery yeast pastry. I cannot imagine Christmas without it.

Ingredients

For Yeast Dough

  • 4 cups (500 g) all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 stick (100-113 g) butter
  • ½ cup (100 g) sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ cup (120 ml) milk
  • 1.4 oz (40 g) fresh yeast or 0.4 oz (just over 4 tsp, 12 g) active dry yeast

For the Filling

For decoration

  • 1 cup powdered / icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp dry poppy seeds
  • 1 tbsp candied orange peel, ideally homemade (optional)

Instructions

For Yeast Dough

  1. Place one stick of butter, 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of sugar in a saucepan. Warm it up (on a low heat) until butter melts.
  2. Set the saucepan aside to cool down, roughly to 104°F/40°C - you can check with your finger, it should be slightly warm.
  3. Separate egg whites from yolks, leave egg whites aside. 
  4. Move two yolks into a large bowl, add yeast (fresh or dry). Combine together with a fork.
  5. Sift four cups of flour into the bowl, add a pinch of salt and add warm sweet milk mixture. 
  6. Knead together for about 5 minutes. I like to knead the dough by hand, but feel free to use a stand mixer with a dough hook.
  7. Form a smooth dough ball, place it in a large bowl and cover with a cloth. Leave in a warm place for 2 hours to rise. Ideally, the dough should triple its size.


For the Filling

👉 Option A: Using a store-bought Filling

  1. If you are using a ready-made Poppy Seed filling from a can - check its taste first.  If it’s too wet and/or too loose, fry it on a low heat (without a lid) with one teaspoon of butter. The excess water will evaporate and the filling will thicken. You can also add more chopped nuts and dried fruit to the mass.
  2. When the filling cools down, add the whipped whites of the two eggs. Gently fold in the egg foam into the mixture. Thanks to these egg whites, the filling won’t crumble when the roll is sliced.

👉 Option B: Using a homemade Filling

Follow the instructions from this Homemade Poppy Seed Filling recipe. You can use up the remaining 2 egg whites for this.

For this recipe you’ll need 1.3 lb (600 g) of filling - so that’s half a portion. But you can make more (skipping the eggs) and freeze half for later.

Cake Assembly

NOTE: This Roll is very long (roughly 20 in / 50 cm) and may not fit in your oven. If it doesn't, cut the dough in half and make two smaller rolls.

  1. Preheat the oven to 360°F/180°C with fan-assist, or to 375°F/190°C without.
  2. Move the dough ball onto your work surface. It shouldn’t stick, but if it does, dust your worktop with some flour. 
  3. Roll out the dough into a long rectangle, roughly 0.4-0.6 inch (1-1.5 cm) thick.
  4. Spread the filling on top, leaving a small border around the edges. 
  5. Starting at one of the long ends, roll the pastry up as gently and tightly as possible. 
  6. Once the roll is assembled, place it on parchment paper. Then, fold the paper over the top of the roll, forming a tunnel with around 0.4 inch (1 cm) of loose space. That will prevent the roll from changing its shape uncontrollably in the oven. Place the wrapped roll onto a baking sheet.
  7. Place the baking sheet on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 40 minutes.
  8. Once the time is up, switch off the oven and leave its door open for 15 minutes. You can then take the cake out, remove the parchment paper and set aside to cool down completely.

Decoration

  1. (tbh, I never measure the exact amounts of ingredients to make frosting...). Just fill a small cup with icing/powdered sugar and add a tablespoon of lemon juice. Blend it together with a fork. If the mass is still not smooth, add a few drops of water and mix it with a fork again. 
  2. Observe as the frosting changes its texture and adjust the amount of water when necessary. If you add too much and it’s too runny, add more powdered sugar.
  3. Pour the frosting over the Poppy Seed Roll (it should be already cooled!).
  4. Sprinkle a tablespoon of dry poppy seeds - and optionally, chopped candied orange peel. Leave aside for the frosting to set.

Notes

This recipe is loosely adapted from a few different recipes (all in Polish), among others: 'Makowiec Drożdżowy' by Paweł Małecki and 'Makowiec Zawijany' by Ania Gotuje

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 211Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 23mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 1gSugar: 10gProtein: 6g

Save this “Poppy Seed Roll” recipe to your “POLISH CHRISTMAS” Pinterest board! And let’s be friends on Pinterest!

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Kasia Kronenberger Polish food blogger

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