Makowiec – Polish Poppy Seed and Almond Roll

On a cold cold afternoon up in the mountains, I was looking for something to occupy me. There’s something very comforting about baking on a wintery day so I settled on a recipe for this Polish rolled cake. Part cake, part bread it is absolutely fantastic. It’s easy to see why it’s one of the Poles most beloved cakes. Poppy seeds come to the fore as a delicious filling which is quite an unusual but absolutely perfect flavour combination. It’s sweet, but not too sweet – just the type of cake I love. The recipe makes two rolls which has so far ensured us a delicious slice of cake with every cup of tea or coffee for the last two days. As I type this recipe, I’m almost tearfully, eating the last slice.

For the dough:
300ml milk
80g unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons dried yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg (beaten)
5 ½ cups plain flour

For the filling:
2 ¼ cups poppy seeds
generous 1/3 cup sugar
80g unsalted butter (cold)
1½ cups ground almonds
3 lemons (zest of)
4 tablespoons honey

1 egg white (lightly beaten)
Soft icing sugar (for dusting)

To make the dough:
Bring 250ml of the milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat, pour into a small bowl and stir in butter and 1/3 cup of sugar and leave to cool.

Pour the remaining milk into the pan and heat for about 40 seconds until warm. Stir in the 1 tablespoon of sugar, egg, yeast and 1 tablespoon of flour. Whisk until combined then leave in a warm place for 15 minutes to froth up.

Stir together the yeast mix and milk/butter mix then gradually add the flour until you have a dough. On a floured surface, knead the dough for about 2 minutes until it is smooth and springy. Pace back in the mixing bowl and cover. Leave in a warm place for 1 hour to allow it to double in size.

To make the filling:
Boil the poppy seeds in 500ml water for 45 minutes. Drain using some muslin, then either using a pestle and mortar, or a spice grinder, grind into a paste.

Rub together the ground almonds and butter into a wet breadcrumb consistency then mix this with the sugar, honey, lemon zest and poppy seed paste. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 190ºC / 375ºF

When the dough has proved for an hour, take out of the bowl and cut in half.

Roll one half into a rectangle about 40cm tall and 20cm wide. Spread half of the poppy seed mixture over the entire surface, then gently roll the short edge upwards to form a Swiss roll type shape. Gently press down to flatten slightly and place on a buttered baking sheet.

Repeat this process with the second portions of dough and filling.
Brush the surface with egg white then bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

Dust with icing sugar then cut into slices as you need them.

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