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Poppy Seed Roll Cake

Poppy Seed Roll Cake

Traditional poppy seed roll cake recipe. Buttery, only lightly sweetened dough wrapped around mellow and nutty poppy seed filling. Sweet delicacy served on Eastern European tables every Christmas and Easter.

In this post we are sharing our recipe for traditional poppy seed filling (a little gem which can be used in many bakes) and enriched dough. Moist and rich filling together with semi-sweet enriched dough keep this poppy seed roll cake fresh for about 5 days. This is definitely not a diet food and most definitely not a quick bake. However, the flavour and texture are worth the effort and few extra runs in the park! ;)

Poppy Seed Roll Cake

For a good bake:

- Poppy seed filling - the filling in this recipe is rich and moist. Ground soft biscuits (savoiardi or ladyfingers) bind the filling. Honey makes it moist. Beaten egg whites make it light and allow for 'sticking' to the dough. Mum always brushed her poppy seed roll cakes with egg whites to make the filling stick (one of the little tricks to avoid empty gaps, and to have a tight roll filled with poppy seeds). Be generous with poppy seed filling! It's delicious and you want to taste it in the final bake (spread 1 to 2 cm thick).

- Yeast - the recipe will work using instant dry yeast but we recommend using active bulk dry yeast (fresh yeast) for best result.

- Proofing - don't over proof. This dough needs only 2 short rests (45min to 1 hour each time).

- Tight rolls - wrapping twice each roll in parchment paper leaving just enough space for the roll to puff is the main thing in baking tight roll cakes. If you wrap it once - the paper may open when baking and logs will crack or have empty spaces between filling and the dough. Leave only 0.5cm space for the log to rise upwards and some 3-4 cm each side (you may opt to seal sides of parchment paper or leave it open). The goal here is for this roll to be tightly wrapped and rise/puff up sidewise and to the length rather than upwards.

Poppy Seed Roll Cake Recipe

Yield: 2 Poppy Seed Roll Cakes

Time: 30min prep + 45min-1hr rest (1st rise) + 20min shape + 1hr rest (2nd rise) + 50min bake

+ start 1 day before to prepare the filling

Tin: 2x 10cmx40cm


Poppy seed filling:

- 1 Poppy seed filling from this recipe


For yeast proofing

- 75ml water

- 14g active dry yeast or 50g active bulk dry yeast (fresh)

- 5g (1 tsp) sugar

- 20g (2 Tbsps) all-purpose flour

For the dough:

- 1 large egg + 4 egg yolks, room temperature (reserve egg whites for the filling)

- 45g caster sugar

- 15g vanilla sugar (or caster sugar and 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)

- 1/4 tsp salt

- 500g all-purpose flour

- 150g unsalted butter, melted and at room temperature

- 60g (4 Tbsps) sour cream, room temperature

Lemon icing (optional):

- 180g confectioners' sugar

- 2 Tbsp warm water + 1 Tbsp if needed

- 2 Tbsps clear lemon juice


1. Proof the yeast: In a small pot mix water with flour and sugar. Warm up to 40C. Remove from the heat and add yeast, stir. Cover the mixture with dry kitchen towel or cling film and let rest for 15 minutes. After that time the yeast should become bubbly/foamy. If it is not - start again (the temperature might have been too high/too low, check BBE date on yeast).

2. Prepare the dough: In your main mixing bowl beat 1 egg and egg yolks with sugar, vanilla sugar and salt (use whisk attachment) until pale and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add proofed yeast (from Step 1) and half of flour and knead for 1 minute (medium speed if using stand mixer, dough hook attachment). Add melted butter, sour cream and the rest of flour and knead for another 7-10 minutes (low-medium speed). After that time you should get well formed, yellow and shiny dough which easily pulls away from your hand not leaving any sticky marks. Don't add more flour. Cover the bowl with clean kitchen towel or cling film and let rest in warm place (21-24C) for 1 hour. In a meantime complete Step 3.

3. Prepare the poppy seed filling: Use this recipe (best to start 1 day before to let it rest overnight).

4. Shape: When ready, gently degas the dough and knead for few seconds. Split the dough into 2 equal parts. Place the dough on parchment paper (cut to fit the tin you are using) and roll out the dough into rectangle shape (0.3cm thin). Beat leftover egg whites until stiff. Gently fold in 3/4th of egg whites into poppy seed filling, reserve 1/4th. Use reserved egg whites to brush rectangle. Spread poppy seed filling (1cm to 2cm thick), leaving some 2cm edge, uncovered. Roll it into a log shape. Using fork poke few holes on the top of the log (see pictures). Wrap the log in parchment paper - wrap twice (otherwise it may open when baking), leaving some 0.5cm space between the log and parchment paper (for the dough to puff upwards) and some 3-4 cm space each side - for the dough to spread when proofing and baking.

Brush the tin with butter and place shaped poppy seed roll cakes. Cover with dry kitchen towel and let rest for 1 hour (21-24C).

5. Bake: Some 30 minutes before baking preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan forced) and bake for about 50min. Always check with the skewer if fully baked through. Once baked - leave in the tin for 10-15min then transfer onto the cooling rack (gently open the parchment paper to let the steam out). Let poppy seed roll cakes cool for at least 2 hours before serving (for the crumb and filling to set). Store in cold and dry place wrapped in dry cotton kitchen towel or cling film. This poppy seed roll cake will stay fresh and enjoyable for about 5 days.

Poppy Seed Roll Cake

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