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Poppy Seed Roll

Here’s A Classic Poppy Seed Roll Recipe To Make This Tasty Holiday Treat!

If you want those classic yeasty swirls to adorn your dessert plate, you should make poppy seed rolls.

This sweet treat is very popular in Central and Eastern Europe, where it has different names and variations. But the main idea is the same: a yeast dough filled with a poppy seed-based filling!

You can eat it all year round, but it is especially popular at Christmas and Easter.

slices of poppy seed roll on plate with knife and other rolls behind.
The swirls make the poppy seed roll stand out.

This recipe is simple and classic. It was inspired by Eric’s Hungarian grandma, who made delicious Hungarian poppy seed rolls (Mákos beigli/bejgli) for Christmas.

The only difference from this recipe is that she added raisins to her filling, which you can also do if you like. In Eric’s family, it was always called Mákos kalács (kalács meaning “sweet bread”), but there are many different names depending on the country.

We know that it can seem like a difficult recipe, but it’s not that hard if you follow the steps and take your time!

Poppy Seed Rolls Across Europe

As mentioned above, poppy seed yeast rolls are eaten in many Central and Eastern European countries. So it’s not surprising that there are many different variations and recipes.

Some recipes call for an icing/glaze and candied peel or poppy seeds on top. Others have additional fillings like raisins, plum jam, honey, etc.

Here are some of the names for poppy seed roll in different European countries, if you are curious and want to look into some of the differences:

  • In Hungary, it is Mákos beigli/bejgli.
  • In Germany and Austria, it’s Mohnstrudel or Mohnstollen.
  • In Poland, it is commonly known as Makowiec.
  • In Slovakia, it is known as Makovník.
  • In Czechia, it is Makový závin.
  • In Ukraine, it is Makivnyk.
  • In Romania, it is Coardă cu Mac.

It’s also enjoyed in the Baltics, the Balkans, and other places.

Ingredients

baking ingredients to make poppy seed roll on counter in bowls with labels.
The poppy seed roll ingredients.

To make this sweet poppy seed roll, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Poppy Seeds – Use fresh poppy seeds. You will need to grind them.
  • Flour – Regular all-purpose flour; to make the dough.
  • Milk – Both low fat and whole milk work; some for the dough and some for the filling.
  • Granulated sugar – To add sweetness to the dough and the filling.
  • Eggs – One large egg at room temperature for the dough, and one for the egg wash.
  • Vanilla extract – To add extra flavor to the dough.
  • Butter – At room temperature; for the dough.
  • Instant Yeast – To make the dough. Make sure it hasn’t expired.
  • Lemon Zest – To add extra flavor to the dough; preferably from an organic lemon.
  • Salt – A pinch of salt to enhance the flavor and balance the yeast activity.

Recipe Tips

  • Make sure the yeast is fresh, the milk is warm, and the butter and egg are at room temperature, otherwise, the dough may not rise.
  • There are lots of different filling variations for poppy seed rolls. For example, you can add raisins (soaked in water or rum beforehand), honey, plum jam, ground cinnamon, lemon zest, and/or orange zest.
  • Knead the dough well until it is smooth and elastic. Five minutes may seem like a long time, but it is worth it.
  • When rolling out the dough, make sure it has an even thickness. Also, make sure to spread the filling evenly. This will create a consistent spiral in the baked poppy seed rolls.
  • Roll out the dough to the size called for in the recipe (slight variations are fine). If you roll it out too small, the filling may be too thick and the rolls don’t cook evenly during baking. If you roll it out too large, the dough may be too thin and split during baking.
  • Poke lots of holes in the tops and sides before baking or it’s more likely that the poppy seed rolls split open.
  • Even if you do everything right, sometimes a poppy seed roll may still split open during baking. This is normal – and it will still taste delicious.
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How to Make Poppy Seed Roll – Step by Step Instructions

In this section, we’ll show you exactly how to make poppy seed roll. We’ve included photos of the recipe process so you can follow along at home and compare your progress as you bake.

You can also find the detailed printable recipe card – with the measurements and instructions – at the end of this post.

blender grinding poppy seeds with small bowl of seeds beside on counter.
Grind the poppy seeds.

First, grind the poppy seeds in batches. This is important since you can’t make this recipe with whole poppy seeds.

You can use a blender or a food processor.

ground black poppy seeds in white mixing bowl on counter.
Place the ground poppy seeds in a bowl.

The poppy seeds will end up quite fine and slightly sticky.

sugar and milk in silver pot on black hot plate.
Heat the milk and sugar.

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the milk and sugar to a boil. Whisk to dissolve the sugar.

silver whisk mixing poppy seed filling in silver pot on hot plate.
Whisk in the poppy seeds.

When the milk comes to a boil, lower the heat, and add the ground poppy seeds. Simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Then remove the pot from the heat and let the filling cool while you make the dough.

yeast salt and flour in mixing bowl on counter top.
Add the dry ingredients to a large bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.

slightly wet dough ingredients in mixing bowl with electric mixer beside.
Add the milk.

Next, add the warm milk and mix briefly. 

chunks of butter and egg yolk on top of dough in mixing bowl.
Add the egg and butter.

Now add the butter, egg, vanilla extract, and lemon zest.

Knead with your electric hand or stand mixer (using the spiral dough hooks) for 5 minutes until the dough forms a ball and is smooth and elastic.

ball of dough in white mixing bowl on counter.
Let the dough rise.

Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm spot without draft for 1 hour.

risen ball of yeast dough in white bowl on counter.
The dough should have increased in size.

The dough should have increased in size noticeably, but not as dramatically as in some other yeast dough recipes.

two balls of dough sitting on counter top.
Divide the dough into two equal parts.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into two equal pieces.

poppy seed roll dough rolled out on a counter top.
Roll out the dough.

Knead the dough briefly, then use a rolling pin to roll it out into a rectangle, about 14 x 12 inches.

piece of dough with poppy seed filling spread out on it sitting on counter.
Spread the filling over the dough.

Now gently spread half of the cooled filling evenly over each rectangle, leaving about a 1-inch border around the edges.

piece of rolled dough with poppy seed filling spread onto it with two edges folded over.
Fold in the short sides.

Next, fold the short sides of each rectangle over the filling and press down slightly.

raw poppy seed roll sitting on counter top.
Roll up the dough.

Then roll up the long side from bottom to top, forming a log. Pinch the seams to seal. Place the rolls seam-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Repeat with the other piece of dough.

blue brush spreading egg wash on two raw poppy seed rolls on baking pan.
Brush with egg wash.

Brush the rolls with egg wash and let them rise in a warm and draft-free spot for another 30 minutes.

two raw poppy seed rolls with toothpicks sticking out on parchment paper baking tray.
Stick some toothpicks in the rolls.

If you want to cover the rolls with a dishtowel while they are rising, put some toothpicks in the rolls first – otherwise the dishtowel will stick to the rolls (due to the egg wash).

hand holding toothpick piercing holes in top of raw poppy seed rolls.
Poke holes in the dough – don’t forget to poke the sides (not shown in the picture).

When the 30 minutes are almost up, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then brush the poppy seed rolls with egg wash again and poke holes in the top and sides with a toothpick.

It’s important to poke both the tops and the sides, otherwise, the rolls are more likely to split open during baking.

two golden brown baked poppy seed rolls on parchment paper tray.
The poppy seed rolls should be golden brown on top.

Bake the poppy seed rolls at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until cooked through and golden brown.

The exact baking time may vary depending on your oven.

slices of poppy seed roll on plate with knife and cutting board and coffee mug beside.
Enjoy some slices of poppy seed roll.

Let the cooked poppy seed rolls cool slightly before slicing. Then serve and enjoy!

Storage Tips

Poppy seed rolls store very well, just be sure to let them cool first. You can store them in a sealed container at room temperature for 1 to 2 days.

If you want to keep them for longer, you can store them in a sealed container in the fridge for about 5 days.

You can also freeze them, either whole, cut into smaller pieces, or sliced. We usually cut a poppy seed roll into four pieces, then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil before placing them in the freezer.

To eat, simply take the piece(s) out of the freezer and allow them to thaw in the fridge or at room temperature.

FAQ

How many cups of poppy seed per poppy seed roll?

The amount of poppy seeds per roll can vary depending on the size of the roll. In our case, we use 3/4 cup of poppy seeds (not ground) per poppy seed roll.

Poppy seed roll splits when baking and filling leaks out – how do I stop that?

To help prevent poppy seed roll filling from spilling out, you can poke holes in the top and sides of the rolls before baking. This will allow steam a place to escape as the rolls bake. The rolls may also split during baking if you use too much filling, so you can try using less filling per roll.

Related Recipes

If you enjoyed this sweet poppy seed roll recipe, here are some other classic European desserts you may like as well:

slices of poppy seed roll on white plate sitting on cutting board.

Poppy Seed Roll

Poppy Seed Rolls are a traditional Christmas and Easter dessert in many different European countries. This version is made with a simple yeast dough and a sweet poppy seed filling made with just three ingredients. It's perfect for slicing and sharing!
4.75 from 4 votes
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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Resting Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 30 slices (approximately)

Ingredients

The Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups poppy seeds
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

The Dough

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk, warm
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, more or less to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten (for the egg wash)

Instructions

Make The Filling

  • Grind the poppy seeds in batches in a blender or food processor.
    1 1/2 cups poppy seeds
  • In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the milk and sugar to a boil, stirring so that the sugar dissolves. Lower the heat, add the ground poppy seeds and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and let the filling cool while you make the dough.
    2/3 cup milk, 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Make The Dough

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.
    3 cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast, 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Add the warm milk and mix briefly. Then add the butter, egg, vanilla extract, and lemon zest and knead with your electric hand or stand mixer (using the spiral dough hooks) for 5 minutes until the dough forms a ball and is smooth and elastic.
    3/4 cup milk, 1/2 cup butter, 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm spot without draft for 1 hour.

Assemble & Bake

  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into two equal pieces.
  • Knead the dough briefly, then use a rolling pin to roll it out into a rectangle, about 14 x 12 inches.
  • Spread half of the cooled filling evenly over each rectangle, leaving about a 1 inch border around the edges.
  • Fold the short sides of each rectangle over the filling, then roll up the long side from bottom to top, forming a log. Pinch the seams to seal. Place the rolls, seam-side down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Brush the rolls with egg wash and let them rise in a warm and draft-free spot for another 30 minutes.
    1 egg
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Brush the poppy seed rolls with egg wash again and poke holes in the top and sides with a toothpick. It's important to poke both the tops and the sides, otherwise, the rolls may split open during baking.
  • Bake the poppy seed rolls at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until cooked through and golden brown. The exact baking time may vary depending on your oven.
  • Allow the cooked poppy seed rolls cool slightly before slicing.

Notes

  • This recipe makes 2 poppy seed rolls. 
  • Make sure the yeast is fresh, the milk is warm, and the butter and egg are at room temperature, otherwise, the dough may not rise.
  • Optional additions to the filling include raisins (soaked in water or rum beforehand), honey, plum jam, ground cinnamon, lemon zest, and/or orange zest.
  • Roll out the dough evenly and spread the filling evenly on top. This will create a consistent spiral in the baked poppy seed rolls.
  • Roll out the dough to the size specified in the recipe instructions (slight variations are fine). If you roll it out too small, the filling may be too thick and the rolls don’t cook evenly during baking. If you roll it out too large, the dough may be too thin and split during baking.
  • Poke lots of holes in the tops and sides before baking or it’s more likely that the poppy seed rolls split open.
  • Even when doing everything right, sometimes a poppy seed roll may still split open during baking. This is normal – and it will still taste delicious.

Nutrition

Calories: 133kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 45mg | Potassium: 81mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 129IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 1mg

This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice.

Course Dessert
Cuisine Austrian, Eastern European, Hungarian
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5 thoughts on “Poppy Seed Roll”

  1. 5 stars
    I love this cake. It’s called makowiec in my native Poland. We also add honey,raisins,chopped walnuts and almonds to poppy seeds while they are cooking.

    Reply

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