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 European pastries, especially in Austria, Hungary, Germany and Poland. There are usually milled and used as a paste.
In Poland, there can be no Christmas Eve without at least a roll of good Makowiec on the dinner table. But it isn’t only saved for these special occasions. Bakeries and restaurants often offer it during the year, and 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’s definitively worth it! Nothing beats the sense of pride and achievement you’ll feel when first cutting it and seeing its nice black and white colour.
It’s a very original cake with its taste full of poppy seed flavour and not too sweet. If you are usually not a “desert” kind of person, try it!
And if you’re still not convinced, know that there is a common belief that poppy seeds will bring luck and wealth, hence the many poppy seeds dishes that are still being eaten around the end of the year. So, enjoy!
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)
- 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 for 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 should get the 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 1-2 cm 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.
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 for one week to 10 days 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 prepared in a can.
- you can try to do it with an pre-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 if you don’t have the time or energy to go through all the steps!
And as always… Smacznego!
To complete your Polish Christmas table, don’t forget to also check out Chef Kotkowska’s Barszcz Czerwony, the traditional Christmas Eve beetroot soup, her Ryba po Grecku, the Polish “Greek-style” fish, her gingerbread Pierniczki świąteczne and her Sernik, the famous Polish cheesecake…