Recipe by Astrid Field of Sweet Rebellion
Easter is such a lovely time of year. The scorching heat of summer is gone but the days are still pleasantly warm. In my life, Easter also means lots of baking time. In previous years I’ve gone the route of making many cute decorated Easter cake pops, cupcakes, and cookies. This year, I decided to go a little more… grown-up.
In my search for some Easter inspiration, I came across this beautiful Polish recipe called Makowiec, which is traditionally served at Easter and Christmas time. I just love the contrast of the swirly dark poppy seed filling against the light bread – so striking! Of any recipe I’ve ever made, this Polish Poppy Seed Roll seems to have the most variation in ingredients. Some recipes use golden raisins or nuts in the filling, but I decided to let the beautiful poppy seeds steal the show! Whether the recipe is authentic or not, I was really happy with the outcome. The texture lies somewhere between cake and bread, with a lovely crunchy, sweet filling.
(Makes 4 small or 2 large loaves)
For the dough:
75g unsalted butter
10g instant yeast (1 sachet)
2 large eggs
5ml vanilla extract
1 beaten egg, for brushing
For the Poppy Seed filling:
400g poppy seeds
5ml finely grated lemon zest
5ml finely grated orange zest
3ml almond extract
Start by making the poppy seed filling. Crush the poppy seeds in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, then place in a heatproof bowl.
Heat the milk, butter, sugar, lemon zest and orange zest until just boiling, then pour over the poppy seeds. Stir in the almond extract.
Cover with clingfilm, then leave the filling mixture to stand at room temperature for a few hours or refrigerate overnight.
To make the dough, heat the milk, butter and sugar together until the butter has melted and the mixture is lukewarm. Sprinkle the yeast on top and leave to stand for a few minutes.
Beat the 2 eggs and vanilla extract together. Place the flour and salt into the bowl of your stand mixer. Make a well in the centre, then add in the milk and yeast mixture as well as the egg mixture.
Use the dough hook on low speed to mix together until a soft dough has formed. Continue mixing for 5 minutes until the dough starts “climbing” the dough hook. Scoop the dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand for a further 5 minutes. Alternatively use a wooden spoon to blend the ingredients together and knead the dough for 10 minutes by hand.
Place the dough into a lightly oiled large bowl and cover with oiled clingfilm. Leave in a warm place for 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in volume.
Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, roll the dough out on a floured surface into a rectangle about 3mm thick (dimensions should be around 25 x 30cm). If you prefer to make 4 small loaves, then divide the dough into 4 portions, rolling each out to 15 x 25cm.
Have the short end of the rectangle closest to you. Spread half the cooled poppy seed filling over the surface, leaving a 1cm border of dough without filling along all the edges. Fold a 2cm width of dough inwards over the filling along each edge. This prevents the filling from spilling out during baking.
Now tightly roll up the dough, from the short edge, finishing with the seam side down. Carefully transfer to a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Repeat with the second half of the dough, placing on a separate baking tray. Leave to rise again for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush the surface of each roll with beaten egg. Bake the poppy seed rolls one at a time, in the centre of the oven, for 35 minutes. Leave to cool on the tray for 30 minutes, then slice and enjoy!