The Polish poppy seed roll or Makowiec is a traditional Easter or Christmas treat in Polish homes. Filled with poppy seeds, nuts, and dried fruit, this roll is perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.
This kind of poppy seed or nut roll has a long tradition in Eastern European baking. There is a version of another of them in probably any country belonging to this region, I've tried lots of them, and I loved them all.
For instance, have a look at the Beigli – the Hungarian nut roll or Cozonac – its Romanian version. My recipes are both made with nuts, yet the nut filling can be substituted with a poppy seed filling. And if you like Polish cakes, try this incredible Bezowy Cake or the Polish Almond Cake.
What is Makowiec?
A Polish poppy seed roll. Yeast dough is rolled and filled with a poppy seed paste full of nuts and dried fruit. The bread is not overly sweet but sweet enough to be considered a cake or dessert. It is delightful, especially when freshly baked and served with a hot cup of tea or coffee.
Just like the other two rolls mentioned above, Makowiec is usually made during the Holiday seasons, so both for Easter and Christmas. It is a family tradition, and I am pretty sure that every family has its own version and that each family claims their version to be the best and the most authentic.
This is always the case with traditional recipes; I am perfectly convinced that my Sarmale – Romanian cabbage rolls are the best and most authentic in the whole wide world. 🙂
What do you need?
- All-purpose flour
- One egg yolk (keep the egg white for the filling)
- Unsalted butter
- Vanilla extract
- Two egg whites: one leftover from making the dough and one leftover from making the egg wash.
- Ground poppy seeds
- Dried blueberries (they can be replaced with any other dried fruit you like, for instance, apricots)
- Chopped walnuts
- Some melted butter to brush over the dough.
- One egg yolk (leftover from making the filling)
- One tablespoon milk
- Icing sugar
- Lemon juice
What kind of yeast to use?
Either fresh, active dry, or instant yeast.
- This is the best kind of yeast you can use, so if it's available where you are, go ahead and use it.
- A cube of fresh yeast weighs 42 g/ 1.48 oz in Germany.
- For the Polish poppy seed roll, you will need 25 g/ 0.9 oz fresh yeast.
- But fresh yeast is not easily available all over the world, so dry yeast is a good substitute.
- Fresh yeast needs to be dissolved in some of the already measured lukewarm milk before use.
Active dry yeast:
- It has larger granules and has to be dissolved in the milk before use as well.
- For this recipe, you will need one packet of granules, which contains 7 g/ 0.25 oz yeast.
Instant dry yeast:
- The granules are finer, and the yeast can be mixed with the dry ingredients before adding the milk (or water).
- One package of dry yeast weighs 7 g/ 0.24 oz.
- Both types of dry yeast are usually sold in small packages, and, at least in Germany, one package is the equivalent of ½ cube of fresh yeast.
How to make a Polish poppy seed roll?
- If using fresh yeast, crumble it in a small bowl. If using active dry yeast, place it in the bowl.
- Add 2 teaspoons of the already measured sugar, 2 tablespoons of the already measured flour, and a little lukewarm milk from the already measured milk. Just enough milk to form a thick paste. Mix well and leave to stand for about 5-10 minutes, covered, in a warm place. It should double its volume.
- In the meantime, melt the butter and let it cool slightly.
- Place the flour into a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer attached to dough hooks. Add salt and the remaining sugar. Mix well.
- Add the melted butter, egg yolk, vanilla, and yeast mixture. Mix well with a spoon.
- Knead with a mixer with dough hooks or with the stand mixer for about 5 minutes or until elastic and smooth. The dough will be rather soft but not very sticky.
- Place in a clean bowl, cover with a kitchen cloth and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours or until doubled in size.
- The rising time depends on how warm your kitchen is and on the type of yeast you are using.
- If using fresh yeast, check after one hour already; dough made with the fresh type always rises faster.
- In the meantime, make the poppy seed filling.
- If the poppy seeds are not ground, ground them in the food processor. They should be finer but not become a powder.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff.
- In another bowl, mix together the poppy seeds, raisins, blueberries, walnuts, and sugar.
- Heat the milk in a small pot until boiling.
- Pour it over the poppy seed mixture and mix well.
- Let cool, then fold in the beaten egg whites.
How to form the roll?
- Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface, about 1 cm/ 0.4 inches thick and about 40x30 cm/ 15x12 inches large. (1)
- Brush with the melted and cooled (or very soft) butter. (2)
- Spread the filling on top. (3)
- Roll and close the ends well so that the filling doesn't spill during baking.
- Place it on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. (1)
- Mix the egg yolk and the milk and brush the roll with the mixture. (2)
- Bake in the preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius/ 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes or until golden.
- Let cool on a wire rack.
- Once cool, you can glaze it. It is optional but very nice; it adds a bit more sweetness and glamour.
- Mix the icing sugar with enough lemon juice (or milk or water) to form a thick, pourable glaze. Drizzle over the cooled Makowiec.
Most important tip: use a digital kitchen scale to measure the ingredients (Amazon affiliate link). Baking is a science, and it requires precise measurements. Measuring by volume can produce different results, especially when it comes to flour and butter. And if you use those inaccurate amounts, you’re more likely to get unsatisfying bakes. A kitchen scale will give you the most precise results ensuring the best bakes possible.
If your kitchen is not warm enough for the rising dough, place the bowl in the oven and turn on the oven lights. Just the oven lights, not the oven.
As mentioned above, dough made with fresh yeast will rise faster, so make sure to check.
How to serve and store Makowiec?
Like any yeasted bake, this poppy seed roll tastes best when freshly baked.
However, leftovers keep well at room temperature for 2-3 days. Keep wrapped in a clean kitchen towel. Leftovers can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap well in plastic wrap and place in freezer bags or containers. Defrost for about 2 hours at room temperature or in the fridge overnight.
More yeasted rolls
Polish Poppy Seed Roll – Makowiec Recipe
Yeast dough (Note)
- 25 g fresh yeast OR 7 g active dry yeast 0.9 oz fresh yeast OR 0.24 oz active dry yeast
- 250 ml lukewarm milk 8.5 fl.oz/ 1 cup + 1 tablespoon
- 30 g granulated sugar 1 oz/ 2 ¼ tablespoon
- 400 g all-purpose flour 14 oz/ 3 ⅓ cups
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 egg yolk Note 2
- 50 g unsalted butter 2 oz/ scant ¼ cup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 220 g poppy seeds ground, 8 oz/ 1 ½ cups, Note 3
- 2 tablespoons raisins
- 2 tablespoons dried blueberries Note 4
- 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
- 2 egg whites
- 80 g sugar 3 oz/ ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon
- 100 ml milk 3.5 fl.oz/ ⅓ cup + 2 tablespoons
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 75 g icing sugar 2.5 oz/ ¾ cup
- 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice/ milk/ water as needed
- Proof yeast: If using fresh yeast, crumble it in a small bowl. If using active dry yeast, place it in the bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of the already measured sugar, 2 tablespoons of the measured flour, and a little lukewarm milk from the measured milk. Just enough milk to form a thick paste. Mix well and leave to stand for about 5-10 minutes, covered, in a warm place. It should double its volume.
- Melt butter: In the meantime, melt the butter and let it cool slightly.
- Combine: Place the flour into a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer attached with dough hooks. Add salt and the remaining sugar. Mix well. Add the melted butter, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and yeast mixture. Mix well with a spoon.
- Knead: with a mixer with dough hooks or stand mixer for about 5 minutes or until elastic and smooth.
- Let rise: Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover with a kitchen cloth, and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours or until doubled in size. (Note 5)
- Make the filling while the dough rises.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff.
- Mix: In another bowl, mix together the ground poppy seeds, raisins, blueberries, walnuts, and sugar.
- Combine: Heat the milk until boiling. Pour it over the poppy seed mixture and mix well. Set aside to cool.
- Fold in the egg whites.
Form the roll:
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Melt the butter and let it cool slightly.
- Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface, about 1 cm/ 0.4 inch thick and about 40x30 cm/ 15x12 inches large.
- Brush with the butter.
- Spread the filling on top.
- Roll up and close the ends well so that the filling doesn't spill during baking. Then, place it on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, seam side down.
- Egg wash: Mix the egg yolk and the milk and brush the roll with the mixture.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until golden and baked through. Let cool on a wire rack.
- Mix the icing sugar with enough lemon juice (or milk or water) to form a thick, pourable glaze. Drizzle over the cooled roll. Sprinkle with a few poppy seeds if you have any left.
- Scale: Use a digital kitchen scale to measure the ingredients; it will give you the most precise results ensuring the best bakes possible. (Amazon affiliate link)
- Eggs: You will need a total of 2 eggs, both separated. One egg yolk for the dough and one for the brush. Both egg whites are for the filling.
- Poppy seeds: If they are not ground, you can easily do it in the food processor. They will be finer but should not become a powder.
- Dried fruit: The exact amount of other dried fruit or berries can be used instead.
- The rising time depends on how warm your kitchen is and the type of yeast you are using. If using fresh yeast, check after one hour already; dough made with fresh yeast always rises faster.