Polish Makowiec (Poppy seed roll)
October 21, 2022 by admin

For many Polish people, Christmas Eve is not complete without a Makowiec on the table. This is also known as a poppy seed roll cake, consisting of a sweet yeast dough, filled with a dense poppy filling and covered in a thin and lemon glaze. Many countries have their own variations; in my home country of Romania we have “Rulada cu mac”, in Croatia they have “Makownjaca” and so on!

My in-laws are Polish, and this was one of the first classic desserts I attempted to make. They loved it so much, particularly my fiancé, that he asks for it constantly. This recipe will yield two rolls, which disappear shockingly quickly in our household. Must be those pesky poppy-loving mice!


  • 400g poppy seeds
  • 100g raisins
  • 2 tbsp gold rum
  • 2 tbsp fresh orange peel
  • 2.5 cups whole milk
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 50g chopped almonds
  • 50g chopped walnuts
  • 95g powdered sugar
  • 1 cup (227g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 100g dry fruit mix (cranberries, apricots, prunes, dates)


  • 4 cups (500g) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 20g active dry yeast
  • 150g margarine, softened
  • Pinch of salt


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp dry poppy seeds


  • Candied orange peels (optional)

Make filling

Soak the poppy seeds in water, covering fully. Collect and discard the dirt and impurities that float to the surface using a spoon. Rinse well and drain onto a sieve lined with cheese cloth.

Rinse the raisins under running water. Place them in a small bowl, adding the gold rum to cover them. Cover the bowl with a small plate and set aside to absorb.

Grate the orange peel and set aside.

Bring the milk to a boil in a large pot. Pour in the poppy seeds, making sure they are fully submerged. On low heat, cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain poppy seeds into the large sieve, and squeeze well to remove as much of the milk as possible. Transfer seeds to a food processor, and blitz well.

Separate the eggs, reserving the whites. Whisk the egg yolks with half the icing sugar and set aside.

In a large pan with high sides, carefully roast the walnuts and almonds with a pinch of salt. Add in the butter, honey and orange peel, and fry a few more minutes. Add in the drained and squeezed poppy seeds, dry fruit, and the raisins that had been soaking (discard excess rum). Mix together well using a silicone spatula. Gradually add the whisked egg yolk/powdered sugar mixture. Remove pan from heat.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining egg whites to stiff peaks, adding the remaining powdered sugar at the end of whipping. Gently add to the poppy mixture. Set aside.

Make dough

In a mug, combine and dissolve the yeast with 1 tsp granulated sugar, 1tsp flour and ½ cup of warm milk (38-40 C/100-104F) for 10 minutes or until foamy. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until lightened in colour. Start gradually adding flour while beating. Add the remaining milk, softened margarine, salt and yeast mixture. Switching to a dough hook, knead until smooth. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, covering with a slightly damp towel and let rise 2h.


Preheat your oven to 350F. Divide the dough into 2 pieces. Roll each piece into a rectangle just under ½” thick on a floured surface. Spread half the filling on each rectangle, avoiding the edges. Begin gently but tightly rolling the dough with the long end facing you and tuck the ends underneath. Brush the roll gently with beaten egg or melted butter. Repeat with second roll. Transfer each roll onto a separate piece of parchment paper and wrap it around the roll, leaving about 1cm or about an index finger of loose space to allow the roll to rise but not distort.

Bake for 35-40 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, allowing 15 more minutes in the oven as it cools.

Make glaze

In a medium bowl, combine all glaze ingredients and stir together well using a whisk. Spread and brush glaze onto the entire cooled roll, or as desired. Let set. Slice roll gently, and serve with coffee or tea.

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I'm Alina and I love making fabulous desserts. My goal is to teach you how to make delicious desserts from scratch to impress your guests, friends, and family!

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