Makowiec is a wonderful example of a festive enriched bread that is central to the Christmas celebrations in Poland. It is related to stollen and other similar enriched Christmas breads but the poppy seed filling gives it an entirely different, more complex flavour. My version is based on this one from the Polish language food blog Moje Wypieki. If you find stollen too sweet and you're not a fan of dried fruits I urge you to give this recipe a go. Although it contains raisins and mixed peel they are blended into the filling and treated more as a flavouring.
These quantities are enough to give you three decent sized poppy seed rolls but you can adjust to your requirements. I think if you're going to all this effort to make the makowiec in the first place you may as well go all out and make the full amount and either freeze the spares or give them away to friends and family as gifts. Why not spread the love?
450g poppy seeds
170g caster sugar
40g unsalted butter
4 tbsp honey
50g mixed peel
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 egg whites (keep the yolks to one side, they get used in the dough)
1 tbsp fast action yeast
750g plain flour
80g melted butter
2 egg yolks
120ml sour cream
130g icing sugar, sifted to remove any lumps
1 tbsp rum or vodka (I used krupnik a Polish, honey scented vodka liqueur)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
approx 100ml warm water
130g icing sugar
1 tbsp water, lemon juice or rum
STAGE 1- The filling
- Put the poppy seeds into a saucepan, cover with water bring to the boil then strain through a fine sieve. Set to one side. (As this is my first time making makowiec I'm not sure how essential this stage is. On a repeat effort I would be tempted to miss it out and see if it made any difference. I'll leave the choice up to you.)
- Put the raisins, mixed peel, nuts and lemon zest into a food processor along with the poppy seeds an process until you have a rough paste and there are no longer any large pieces of nut or raisin. You can leave this chunky if you like but I prefer a smoother texture.
- In a large pan, melt the butter then add the poppy seed mixture along with the honey and leave to cook over a low heat for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then remove from the heat.
- In a bowl beat together the egg whites until stiff. Beat the whole egg into the poppy seed mixture followed by the egg whites.
- Set the mixture to one side to cool while you make the dough.
- In a large bowl place the dry ingredients (flour, icing sugar, salt and yeast). In a separate bowl or large jug combine the wet ingredients (eggs, egg yolks, sour cream, melted butter, alcohol and vanilla).
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, pour in the wet mixture and combine together adding additional warm water a tablespoon at a time until all the flour is incorporated and you have a rough dough.
- Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for around 10 minutes or so until you have a smooth dough. Place in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rest for about an hour so that it doubles in size.
- Divide the dough and the mixture into the number of rolls you want to make then follow the remaining stages for each roll.
- Take the dough and roll it out into a thin, roughly square shape. Spread the required filling evenly across it leaving a small gap all around, then roll the dough up closing the seam and the ends as tightly as you can.
- Place the roll onto a greased baking sheet, cover then set aside to rise for a further 90 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180C then bake for 30-40 minutes or until the exterior is golden brown. Allow to cool then glaze.