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Polish Poppy Seed Roll Makowiec Recipe

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A plate with makowiec (recipe) and pine branches on it.

A prominent feature at the Polish tables, the Polish poppy seed bread covered with sugar frosting or chocolate is really toothsome. Makowiec recipe is surprisingly easy!

Memories Of Poppy Seeds And Poland 

Poppyseed flowers contain opium alkaloids, but they can be misused sometimes. 

Years ago, when I was growing up in Poland I remember my neighbor producing drugs from poppy seeds. It was quite common for individuals to do that at the time.

But it soon became such a big issue in Poland, that resulted in poppy seeds being banned in the entire country. Nowadays, you can’t seed them yourself, only self-seeders are available for use.  Of course, you can buy ready-to-eat poppy seeds in the stores as well.

But when used in the right amount, poppy seeds add a lot of flavor to both dinners and desserts. We often made the Polish poppy seed pastry and cover it with chocolate frosting or sprinkle it with powdered sugar. 

These poppy seed roll Polish desserts are as popular at Easter and Christmas as piernik – gingerbread, keks – fruitcake, Polish nut roll, or kompot z suszu drink.  

A poppyseed roll is sitting on a cutting board next to a pine branch, alongside a poppy seed roll.

Why Are Makowiec Rolls Popular With Polish Christians?

Don’t have time to make a proper makowiec? See my quick poppyseed Christmas tree cake recipe!

According to legend, poppy flowers grew from the places where Jesus’ blood fell during the crucifixion. So having makowiec rolls with poppy seeds at Easter and Christmas became representative of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the new life that he gives us.

It’s also popular to eat makowiec at Christmas time so that you will have wealth and prosperity in the year ahead. 

How To Make Polish Poppyseed Roll?

I have a full video where I am showing how to make makowiec step-by-step. You can watch it here:

Step 1 – Make The Dough

When you are making yeast dough you need to remember about the following things:

  • always use room-temperature or warm ingredients (they cannot be hot though because that will kill the yeast)
  • knead the dough using your hands or food processor
  • place the dough in warm, draft-free place to let it double or triple its size. Alternatively, place the dough in the fridge to let it grow overnight.

This makowiec recipe calls for 1 cup of warm milk, 4 egg yolks, 1 stick (110g) of melted butter, 5 cups (600g) of all-purpose flour, 1 tbsp (7g) of instant yeast, ½ cup (100g) of sugar, and ½ tsp of salt.

You just need to knead all the ingredients, place the dough in a large bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen cloth and simply wait for the dough to grow.

I’ve been developing this recipe for sometime because my goal was to get makowiec that is not dry. In my opinion, the biggest problem in the Polish poppyseed rolls is that they are sometime too dry.

In my opinion, the perfect makowiec needs to have a buttery dough and sticky filling. This Polish poppyseed recipe have it all, and I truly think it’s perfect!

Step 2 – Prepare The Filling

You will have 4 egg whites left from the dough and you will use it for the filling.

But first you need to ground your poppyseed (4 cups / 400g). In Poland, it’s easy to buy poppyseed that is already grinded and it makes the cooking process so much easier!

Bring 1 ½ cup of milk to almost-boil, then add grind poppyseed to milk. Cook for a few minutes, stirring from time to time.

A person pours ground coffee from a metal pot into a saucepan of boiling water on a stove to make a Polish poppy seed roll recipe.

The final step is to add 2 tbsps of honey, 4 tbsps of butter, 1 (200g) cup of sugar, and raisins, candied fruits, and nuts. It is optional, however, I think they add makowiec more flavor. Allow to cool.

I recommend adding beaten egg whites to the poppyseed filling right before rolling the cake, so we will get back to you in the next step.

Step 3 – Beat Egg Whites And Add To The Poppyseed Filling

When your dough has grown (it needs about 90 minutes), prepare pastry board and rolling pin.

Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff then, using the spoon, aa it to the poppyseed filling. Do it very carefully. You want you filling to be fluffy and sticky so gentle stirring will make it perfect.

Overhead view of hands mixing white and black poppy seeds in a bowl with a wooden spoon on a kitchen counter for a Polish poppy seed roll recipe.

Step 4 – Rolling Up Makowiec

The first thing you need to do is to preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Next, divide the dough into 2 pieces.

Roll the first piece out onto a floured surface to just under ½” thickness.

Step-by-step images showing dough preparation for a polish poppy seed roll recipe: 1. Dough in a bowl after kneading. 2. Hand using a rolling pin to flatten dough on a wooden surface.

Now spread the filling onto the dough, avoiding the edges. 

Dough rolled flat on a counter; step 3 shows plain dough, step 4 shows dough topped with a layer of ground meat mixture for a Polish poppy seed roll recipe.

Roll up the pastry, starting at one of the long ends. 

Two images showing the steps of making a Polish poppy seed roll. On the left, hands spread a gray poppy seed filling on dough; on the right, hands begin to roll the dough over the filling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make sure to tuck the ends of the roll under it. (that will prevent the filling from leaking out).

It’s also ok to tuck the ends of the dough inside before rolling, then rolling makowiec. The point is to secure the edges to make sure the filling won’t leak.

Side-by-side images of hands rolling and shaping dough for a Polish poppy seed roll on a wooden surface, labeled step 7 and step 8 respectively.

 

 

 

Repeat the process with the second part of the dough and the filling. Place both rolls on one large baking tray lined with parchment paper. Make sure they don’t touch each other because the cakes will grow a bit in the oven.

You may have some leftover filling and it’s ok! It’s better to add too little than too much.

Step 5 – Brushing The Cakes And Baking

The final step (before decorating) is to brush the rolls with beaten egg or melted butter. Bake them for 35-40 minutes 

A woman in a red top is preparing food in a kitchen, brushing egg wash on dough for a Polish poppy seed roll, with a wall-mounted herb garden labeled "Polish Poodles" in the background.

 

 

Step 6 – Decorate Makowiec

When your makowiec is cold, decorate it however you like!

I recommend the best toppings below. My favorite is sugar glaze (1 cup of icing sugar + 4 tbsps of water) and some dried nuts, fruits, or candied orange peel on top.

Icing being drizzled over a Polish poppy seed roll on a wooden cutting board.

What Other Toppings Can I Use For This Polish Poppy Seed Roll Recipe?

You can top the makowiec with any of the following:

  • Chocolate Frosting
  • Powder Sugar
  • Sugar Glaze
  • Candied Peel
  • Chopped Nuts
  • Honey

 

 

 

 

What Are The Other Names Of These Makowiec Poppy Seed Rolls?

The other names for the Polish poppy seed bread are makowiec strudla, strucla, makownik or placka. They look a lot like the Swiss roll, but the makowiec recipe uses yeast-based dough. 

Tips For Making Polish Poppy Seed Roll Recipe – Makowiec

  • You don’t need to make the poppy seed filling yourself. You can buy the poppy seed filling here.
  • Washing the poppy seeds in hot water reduces the morphine content.
  • You can also add cinnamon, nuts, dried fruit, or honey to the filling. 
  • If you want something heady, you can also add rum-soaked raisins to the filling. 
  • Serve the makowiec dessert roll with coffee or wine!

Polish Poppy Seed Roll – Frequently Asked Questions About Making Makowiec

Makowiec Roll in a red plate.
Makowiec Rolls made with poppy seeds

How Do You Pronounce Makowiec?

Makowiec is pronounced mak-ov-yets or mah-kov-yets.

If Poppies Contain Opium, Is It Safe To Eat Makowiec?

With the current food regulations, only poppies that have a very low morphine content are harvested for food purposes. So yes, it’s safe to eat makowiec

Who Invented Makowiec?

Can I Freeze Leftover Makowiec?

Yes, you can freeze leftover makowiec in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for a few hours and reheat before serving. 

Can I Use A Different Filling? I Don’t Have The Poppy Seeds!

Yes, you can use any kind of jam, or Nutella for this recipe. Alternatively, you may make a Polish nut roll (follow the link for the recipe), which is also a very popular Polish cake! 

See also my Polish poppy seed cheesecake recipe (seromakowiec).

Polish Poppy Seed Roll Makowiec Recipe

Yield: 15 servings

Polish Poppy Seed Roll Makowiec Recipe

Keywords: poppy seed roll, pine branches.

A prominent feature at the Christmas table, the Polish poppy seed bread covered with sugar frosting or chocolate is really toothsome. This Polish poppy seed bread is made with a really easy Makowiec recipe!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

Makowiec Dough

  • 5 cups (600g) of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 stick (110g) of butter
  • 1 tbsp (7g) of instant yeast
  • ½ cup (100g) of sugar
  • ½ tsp of salt

Makowiec Filling

  • 4 cups (400g) of poppy seeds
  • 1 (200g) cup of sugar
  • 1 ½ cup of milk
  • 2 tbsps of honey
  • 4 tbsps of butter
  • 4 egg whites
  • raisins/ candied fruits/ nuts (optional)

Instructions

Make The Dough

  1. Melt the butter in warm milk (don't make it too hot!).
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and knead the dough (using your hands or food processor). The dough may be a bit sticky but it's ok.
  3. Place the dough in a big bowl then cover it with a clean kitchen cloth.
  4. Leave the bowl in a warm place for about 90 minutes until the dough doubles its size.

Make The Filling

  1. If your poppy seeds are not ground, grind them in a coffee/meat grinder or food processor. You may need to run the food processor a few times, depending on how strong your grinder is.
  2. Bring the milk to almost boil.
  3. Add poppy seeds to boiling milk, and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring all the time.
  4. Add sugar, and butter to hot poppy seeds and mix.
  5. Add chopped nuts/dried fruits and mix again. Allow to cool.
  6. Beat the egg whites with a bit of salt until stiff.
  7. Carefully add beaten egg whites to the poppy seeds.

Assemble Makowiec

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C.
  2. Divide the dough into 2 pieces.
  3. Roll each piece out onto a floured surface to just under ½” thickness.
  4. Spread the filling onto the dough, avoiding the edges.
  5. Roll up the pastry, starting at one of the long ends. Make sure to tuck the ends of the roll under it. (that will prevent the filling from leaking out).
  6. Brush the rolls with beaten egg or melted butter.
  7. Place the poppy seed rolls on a pan lined with baking paper.
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Decorate Makowiec (Makowiec Toppings)

Here are the most popular ways to decorate Polish poppy seed cake:

- powdered sugar

- sugar glaze (1 cup of icing sugar + 4 tbsps of water)

- chocolate frosting

For each of these options, you may add candied fruits or nuts on top.

Notes

If you don't want to make the filing yourself, you can buy a (canned version.)

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

24

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 195Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 39mgSodium: 94mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 1gSugar: 12gProtein: 5g

These data are indicative and calculated by Nutritionix

Did you like this Polish poppy seed roll makowiec recipe? Let us know in the comments below!

30 Responses

    1. I am sorry for the mistake! You need to add it to the dough.
      I’ve just updated the recipe to make it easier (instant yeast instead of fresh yeast).
      I hope that helps!

      Merry Christmas 🙂

  1. Should the rolls be left to rise (a second rise) before baked? The first rise is noted, not another after rolling. Jules

  2. Dough doesn’t rise at all what a waste. The method needs to be adjusted bug time. Threw it all out. Wouldn’t rise!

    1. If the yeast dough is not growing, it’s not the problem with the recipe 🙂

      Here’s what might happen:
      -room temperature in your kitchen is too low
      -you had drafts in your kitchen
      -you used milk that’s too hot or too cold
      -your yeast’s expiration date has passed
      -you didn’t follow the instructions in the recipe

      I am 100% sure the recipe is correct, as I used it so many times.

  3. My parents are Polish. I made this one time and my mother couldnt believe I actually made this. She thought I bought it. My mom passed away in September and will keep making this in her honour.

  4. This recipe didn’t work for me either 🙁 the dough didn’t rise and was extremely hard and dry, despite using active yeasts as recommended and the above ingredients

    1. The dough needs to rise, otherwise the cake won’t be good…
      Here are some of the reasons why the dough didn’t rise
      -old yeast
      -too cold in the room
      -drafts in the room
      -too hot milk that killed the yeast

      Yeast dough requires warm temperature and time to rise… I hope you will succeed next time!

        1. Yes, it’s 25 grams of fresh yeast. You need to active it first with 1 tbsp of sugar, 1 tbsp of flour, and 1 tbsp of warm milk. Wait for 10 minutes, then follow the recipe.

  5. Any tips on the top cracking exposing the filling? Maybe the dough was rolled too thick or too much yeast? I halved the recipe if that would have done anything I also used active dry yeast in milk

    1. Here are some of the possible reasons:
      1. The dough wasn’t knead well enough before rolling out.
      2. Too much yeast.
      3. The dough didn’t have enough time to grow.
      4. Too much filling.

      If you want to avoid cracking in the future you may let the dough rest for additional 30 minutes when makowiec is already formed.
      Don’t forget to brush it with egg white, that may prevent makowiec from cracking too.

      Good luck!

  6. Hello, I’ve tried a bunch of different recipes for this and the filling has turned out to watery and leaked out while baking. Any reason that might be happening and any tips on how to prevent that?

  7. I have way tooo much filling remaining!!! I followed the recipe exactly……is this normal? What can you do with leftover filling? I have likely 5 times too much!
    Beth Daly

  8. The poppy seeds sold are just that. Hard seeds like on top of a sandwich roll. These seeds needs to be ground for the filling
    Where can you buy ground poppyseed as it is very difficult to use a coffee grinder for a pound or 2. Also it’s not mentioned in your recipe

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