Magazine Poland

Polish Christmas Recipes: Makowiec, the famous Christmas Eve poppy seed roll

December has arrived, and that means only one thing: Christmas time is here! Now if you’re a bit like us, you won’t care much for silly presents you don’t even need, for Christmas’ main attraction is food, and there’s no present like a gloriously filled Christmas table. With this in mind, Kafkadesk’s very own Chef Paulina Kotkowska has prepared a series of Polish Christmas recipes to countdown to C-Day! What’s on the menu today? Her Makowiec, the famous Christmas Eve poppy seed roll…

Poppy seeds are often used in Eastern and Central Europe pastries, especially in Austria, Hungary, Germany and Poland. There are usually milled and used as a paste.

In Poland, there is no Christmas Eve without at least a roll of a good Makowiec on the dinner table. But it is not only saved for these special occasions. Bakeries and restaurants often offer it during the year. It’s perfect with a cup of hot tea or a coffee!

Baking your own makowiec can be a bit challenging the first time but it definitively worth it! You will be so proud when you will cut it and see its nice black and white colour.

It’s a very original cake with its taste full of poppy seed flavour and not very sweet. If you are a “not desert” kind of person, try it!

And if you are still not convinced, you must know that there is a common belief that poppy seeds will bring luck and a lot of money, hence the many poppy seeds dishes that are still today eaten near the end of the year. It’s said to bring you as much money as there are poppy seeds in the cake. So, enjoy!

Makowiec recipe

Yields: 10 servings

Preparation time:  1 hour


For the Dough:

  • 500g flour
  • 30g fresh yeast
  • 125g butter
  • 2 eggs + 1 for cooking
  • 125g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar or vanilla paste
  • 120ml milk
  • A pinch of salt

For the Poppy Seed Filling:

  • 400g poppy seeds
  • 200g sugar
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 2 egg whites
  • 50g butter
  • Some raisins (optional)

How to make a Makowiec

  • Rinse the poppy seeds, cover them in boiling water and let sit for a few hours or overnight.
  • For the dough, mix the yeast into 2 Tbsp of warm milk and add a pinch of sugar. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  • Stir flour, salt, sugar and vanilla sugar in a bowl.
  • Melt the butter and add it to the bowl.
  • Add the two beaten eggs and the yeast mixture.
  • Add the milk, a little at a time, stirring continuously. You have to end up with a flexible but not sticky dough. You can add a bit of flour if needed.
  • Knead the dough as a bread dough during 20 minutes.
  • Cover the bowl with a wet dish towel and let rise until doubled in size about 2 hours.
  • While the dough rises, strain the water from the poppy seeds using a fine strainer.
  • Grind the poppy seeds in a clean electric coffee grinder or a food processor. As poppy seeds are very thin, you will get best results with a coffee grinder, but you will have to process in batches and it will take time. You have to end up with a smooth and homogenous poppy paste.
  • In a food processor, mix sugar, honey, egg whites, butter and raisins with the poppy paste.
  • After 2 hours, punch down the dough, and divide in two.
  • Roll each piece until 1-2cm thickness and make a rectangle.
  • Spread half of the poppy seed filling in each rectangle, avoiding the edges.
  • Roll up on the long side and pinch to seal the dough and avoid the filling from leaking out.
  • Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F).
  • Put the two rolls on a baking paper, seam side down.
  • Brush with the egg beaten with a bit of water.
  • Bake for around 40 minutes.

Kafkadesk notes

Makowiec isn’t a very sweet desert so if you want to add a bit of sweetness to the cake, you can glaze it at the end with icing sugar. Just mix a cup of powdered sugar with a bit of hot water and drizzle over the cooled roll. Some people often add walnuts, almond extract or candied orange zest in the poppy seed filling so feel free to alter this recipe to make it your own!

Makowiec can be kept one week to 10 days after at room temperature, but it will lose a bit of its softness.

… and for the lazy ones, two options:

  • you can find in some countries the poppy seed filling already done in a can. Look in ethnical grocery store.
  • you can try to do it with an already done puff pastry that you can buy in grocery stores.

Of course, the results will not be the same but it’s a good compromise between laziness and greed!

And as always… Smacznego!

Don’t forget to also check out Chef Kotkowska’s Barszcz Czerwony, the traditional Christmas Eve beetroot soup… 

6 comments on “Polish Christmas Recipes: Makowiec, the famous Christmas Eve poppy seed roll

  1. That looks lovely. Thanks for sharing! 😀

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  6. Wow, I love this! Makowiec all the way. I used to hate it as a kid, but now I’m a total sucker for masa makowa.
    This year we were lazy and bought our makowiec at Cukiernia Sowa (confectionery store chain). Can’t recommend it enough.

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