My kitchen is by no means complete – I don’t own a cast iron pan for example, nor a proper food processor and not even a set of tea cups. But I happen to own a special mill to grind poppy seeds. I sort of inherited this from my grandmother, who as I’ve mentioned before was an amazing baker. I also happen to love poppy seeds. So now the time had come to use this little mill and make a poppy seed cake, or what we call Hefezopf, a simple yeasted cake with poppy seed filling, rolled up, then cut in half, braided and baked. I think this type of pastry is common all over central Europe, I’m not even sure where it originates from. It can be eaten just like that for breakfast or tea, or with a little butter or margarine and jam or honey. Note that poppy seeds are so tough that it’s difficult to crush them with anything else than a special grain mill. So when you buy them, make sure to get the ones that are already ground. Apart from that this cake/roll is quite straightforward. It can be made vegan or non-vegan, both are equally good. If you don’t like raisins, use dried apricots or dates instead.
Recipe: Traditional yeasted poppy seed roll (Mohnzopf)
For the dough:
- 350 grams 2 2/3 cups of flour
- 20 grams about half an ounce of fresh yeast
- 200 ml a little less than one cup of milk (I used oat milk, you can also use regular milk or soy milk)
- Four tablespoons of agave syrup, or liquid honey
- Four tablespoons of coconut oil or butter, whichever you are using, they should be quite firm
For the filling:
- 90 grams 3 oz of ground poppy seeds
- 60 grams 2 oz of raisins
- A few tablespoons of fruit juice
- 60 grams 2 oz of ground almonds
- Four teaspoons of brown sugar
- 80 ml almost 3 oz of milk (I used oat milk, you can also use regular milk or soy milk)
- A little lemon zest
- Dissolve the yeast in the milk in a baking bowl and mix in the flour, agave syrup/honey and oil/butter. First, stir the ingredients together with a spoon; when the dough has firmed up take it out and knead it with your hands on a cutting board, until the dough becomes smooth and is no longer sticky. The butter/coconut oil may form small chunks and not dissolve completely, which is ok. Shape the dough into a ball, place it in a bowl, cover it with a dish towel and let it rest for thirty minutes in a warm place.
- Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Soak the raisins in fruit juice or a little warm water for about five minutes. Drain them and blend them in a food processor until they turn into a smooth paste. Mix together the poppy seeds, ground almonds, raisin paste, a little lemon zest and sugar.
- Roll out the dough into a rectangular or square shape on a cutting board dusted generously with flour. Spread the poppy seed filling on top of the dough, leaving a rim on each side. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 F).
- Gently roll up the dough with the filling. It's best to already now carefully transfer the roll onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Cut the roll lenghtwise in half with a sharp knife.
- Now carefully braid the two halves around each other, trying to keep the open parts with the filling looking upwards and inwards. Tuck in the two ends. If your braid is too thin, push it together a bit from both ends. Bake the cake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Enjoy!