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Polish | Polish Poppy Seed Cake (Makowiec)

Posted on March 29, 2012

A traditional Polish coffee cake, it's a poppy seed filling with a yeast cake. Not too sweet, perfect with coffee or tea in the morning. Making this wasn't without incident though. It took me a while to find a recipe, I finally settled on one that I found in a blog. Next, I had to find 500 grams of poppy seeds. It would cost too much to buy bottle after bottle, so I found a place that sold them in bulk. Next, the recipe was in grams and milliliters, luckily I have a scale that toggles between ounces and grams. The millimeters part was easy. The dough was pretty simple to make, it came out a little soft though. It seemed like it would be hard to roll up and move as large loaf, so I ended up making two small loaves. The poppy seed filling was not hard to make, but my food processor was unsuccessful at breaking up the poppy seeds. I just went with it though, and it tasted good. My taste-tester was my husband who is of Polish-German descent and had this cake frequently growing up. He said it tasted right on, then proceeded to eat half a loaf. This recipe post is part of my Global Bites Project - Eastern European Cuisine adventure.

Yield: 1 large loaf or 2 smaller loaves

Polish poppy seed cake



(I had extra poppy seed filling, so you might want to cut this in half)

500 grams poppy seeds

250 milliliters whole milk (I used more)

50 grams butter, melted

250 grams sugar

110 grams raw almonds, finely chopped

110 grams raw walnuts, finely chopped

zest of 1/2 a lemon (I would increase this next time)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 egg whites



500 grams all purpose flour

4 teaspoons dried yeast (about 2 packages)

110 grams unsalted butter, softened

150 grams sugar

3 egg yolks

250 milliliters whole milk




220 grams powdered sugar

juice of 1 lemon


Start by putting the poppy seeds and milk in a pot and simmer gently for 20 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally. (I needed more milk to get a simmer going.) Leave to cool in the pot.

Next, start on the cake. Heat the milk in the microwave for a minute or so until warm, no hotter than is comfortable putting a finger in. (I heated to 110 degrees F.) Sprinkle yeast of top, and leave for 5 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, cream the butter and sugar for a few minutes until they are light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one by one, beating between each addition. Stir in the milk mixture, which should now be foamy on top. Add a pinch of slat and the flour, and stir together until combined. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for an hour or so.

While the cake is rising, blend the poppy seeds in a food processor until they break down a bit. You want to crack them open and form a coarse paste. (Mine didn't really crack open.) If you're getting something more akin to coffee grinds than a paste, that's ok, just add a little more milk once they're ground down. You want the texture to be something like wet sand. Stir in the melted butter, sugar, chopped nuts, lemon zest, and vanilla extract into to the poppy seeds. Turn the oven to 355 degrees F.

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into the poppy seed mixture.

Now roll out the cake on a floured board, roughly 1 centimeter thick. Spread the poppy seed mixture over then dough, leaving a half a centimeter or so on the edges. Gently roll up the cake lengthwise, like a Swiss roll. Pinch the ends together and tuck under to stop the filling from coming out when it cooks.

Wrap the whole thing up tightly in baking paper, making sure the opening is on the bottom. This will stop it rising in the oven, you want it to hold it's shape and keep all the filling inside. (I skipped this step.)

Pop on a baking tray in the oven, and bake 45 minutes or so. (Mine only took 35 minutes.)

While the cake is in the oven, make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar and lemon juice, and enough water to make a thick icing.

Once the cake is done, pull it out of the oven, let it cool for a few minutes, then drizzle over the glaze while it's still hot.

(While this recipe turned out good, I would consider trying another one, such as the one on The Fresh Loaf. Good luck!)


(Ref. "Polish Poppy Seed Cake (Makowiec)" recipe, "With Love, Mags" blog.)