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Polish Poppy Seed Cake (Makowiec)

Polish Poppy Seed Cake (Makowiec)

Now, I am not of polish descent. But a family friend used to make this every Christmas, and bring around a slice or two, always a treat. So when I saw a recipe for this in a Jamie magazine, it was only a matter of time until I gave it a shot. And with Christmas coming up, what better excuse?

This filling is made of blended poppy seeds, nuts, lemon and vanilla, all rolled into a yeasted cake. It's not too sweet, not too heavy, and the perfect tea or coffee cake.

Now, lets talk poppy seeds, because you're going to need a lot of these. And I mean a lot.

Don't even think about buying those little packets from the supermarket. You'd need an insane number of them, and this is definitely the expensive option. Do yourself a favour and head down to a wholesale store like Moore Wilson's or Toops, and get a bulk packet. I got a 1kg pack for something like $10, which will make two large (or 4 smaller) cakes.

Makowiec - Polish Poppy Seed Cake

(makes one large or two smaller cakes)

For the poppy seed filling

  • 500g poppy seeds
  • 250ml milk
  • 50g butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 110g almonds, finely chopped
  • 110g walnuts, finely chopped
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Vanilla extract
  • 3 egg whites
  • For the cake
  • 500g all purpose flour
  • 1T dried yeast
  • 110g butter, softened
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 250ml milk
  • Salt
  • For the glaze
  • 220g icing 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. Leave to cool in the pot.

Next, and 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). Sprinkle the yeast on 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 the top. Add a pinch of salt 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. 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. Melt the butter, and stir it into the poppy seed mixture with the sugar, chopped nuts, lemon zest, and 1/2t vanilla extract into the poppy seeds. Turn the oven to 180 C.

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

Now roll out the cake on a floured board, roughly 1cm thick. Spread the poppy seed mixture over the dough, leaving a half cm 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 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 its' shape and keep all the filling inside!

Pop on a baking tray in the oven, and bake for 45 minutes or so.

While the cake is in the oven, make the glaze by combining the icing 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.

Best eaten with a cup of earl grey tea!

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