Poppy Seed Cake (Makowiec)

Hey! Guess what?!

I’m going to Europe in LESS THAN TWO WEEKS!

I’m going to Paris and Poland with my mum, to be exact. Paris is a stopover, just for a couple of days for some pastry eating and because I love the city. Poland for a month, to visit all of our family.

I’m so excited, and I thought I’d make a traditional Polish cake to celebrate!

My mum is Polish. She came to Australia in her mid-twenties to escape the communist regime and has been homesick ever since.

After going to Poland a few times and even living there for a while after I finished high school, I have come to understand how she misses the culture, the language, the people and the food.

I love a lot of Polish food, but not Makowiec. I don’t care for poppy seed cake one single bit. My mum, on the other hand, loves it, so I thought I’d make it for her.

is a yeasty dough that’s rolled up with a poppy seed filling like a roulade. The filling can be made by hand by simmering the poppy seeds in milk, soaking them overnight and then finely grinding them in a food processor. Traditionally, things like sultanas, chopped nuts, orange zest, lemon zest and vanilla sugar are added. I took the easy way out and bought a can of something called Masa Makowa, or poppy seed filling, at my local market.

I had issues with this recipe. My dough, even though it had 5 1/2 packages of dry yeast in it (crazy!!! I know!!!), didn’t want to rise. I had to put it into a warm oven (that was turned off) to even get it to budge. Then I didn’t wrap the cake up tightly, or well enough, in baking paper when I put it in the oven, so the baking paper opened up and the cake rose and cracked and grew and kind of exploded expanded.

That wasn’t supposed to happen.

But Mum made me feel better about it by telling me her mum’s (my grandma’s) Makowiec used to crack all the time.

And it tastes just like the Makowiec I remember having in Poland, so it’s all good.

Adapted from Rose Petal Jam by Beata Zatorska.

110g unsalted butter, softened (1/2 cup)
150g caster sugar (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp)
2 egg yolks
250ml milk (1 cup)
500g plain flour (2 cups)
40g dry yeast (1 1/2 ounces, 5 1/2 sachets)
pinch of salt
700g can of Masa Makowa, or poppy seed filling
1 whole egg
1/2 cup icing sugar
3-4 tsp water or lemon juice

Beat together the butter, caster sugar and egg yolks till creamy. Mix in the milk (mine didn’t want to combine. Try adding it in a very slow stream with your mixer on a low speed).

Add the plain flour, dry yeast and salt, and mix well to combine.

Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and place in a warm place to rise. It is supposed to double (mine didn’t double, and took about 2 1/2 hours to rise just a little. So don’t stress if yours doesn’t rise much either, because it will likely do most of its growing while its baking).

Preheat the oven to 180 C.

On a well floured surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle until it is 1cm (1/2 inch) thick.

Spread the poppy seed filling evenly over the rectangle, leaving a 2-3cm (1 inch) border of bare dough around the edge.

Starting at a short end, tightly roll up the dough like a roulade. Pinch together all the edges to close them so none of the filling comes out.

Whisk the whole egg and brush it over the cake.

Now, get a big (BIG!)  piece of baking paper and roll the cake up in it, TIGHTLY. Place on a baking tray and bake for 45-50 minutes.

Take the cake out of the oven and make your glaze by combining the icing sugar with enough water to make a slightly runny mixture. Brush it over the cake while its still hot.

Allow to cool before cutting. Serves 10.

10 Thoughts on “Poppy Seed Cake (Makowiec)

  1. Ahh I’m so jealous of you! Make sure you eat lots of fattening pastries and take lost of pictures in Paris (:

  2. Karen in Dallas, Tx on November 9, 2011 at 9:41 pm said:

    Mine always cracks too. I make this as my sons birthday cake every year. It is his favorite. I use my Czech grandmothers recipe. My cheat is to use a bread machine on the manual setting.Try it with fresh poppy seed sometime…. It is unbelievably better than the canned stuff.

    • Have you tried completely wrapping it in baking paper? I wonder if that would make a difference.
      I don’t have a bread machine but I will try it with the fresh poppy seed next time. Thanks Karen!

  3. Pingback: >Little Strawberry Pies | Butter

  4. Wow, it looks gigantic! You have a really, really nice swirl. When I make cinnamon raisin bread, you can’t even see my swirl. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Probably being too skimpy on the cinnamon sugar mix in the first place.

    You’re a really nice daughter to make your mother something she likes although you dislike it. I’ve got to admit I never do that. I do make my husband vegetables a few times a month, though. That’s got to count for something. :)

    • It was HUGE, it like exploded in the oven. And my tiny little mother ate the whole thing all by herself. And the swirl? It was probably a fluke!
      I love the bit about the vegetables. You don’t like vegetables, huh? I’m sure your husband is big enough to make his own!

      • Aww, I hope she froze some.

        Haha. He is big enough to make his own and he does every day. But sometimes I feel like I should provide him with some vitamins and things instead of just sugar so I cook some carrots. I LOVE potatoes and like corn. Everything else is gross! Some people don’t classify those as vegetables and that makes me sad. They came from the ground and they’re not grain and not fruit. They have to be vegetables. :)

        • Haha no, she ate it everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner until it was all gone!
          I think its a good exchange – husband makes the vegetables, you make the cake. All evens out and stuff!

  5. You listed lemon juice in recipe list although not mentioned in rest of recipe process.

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