Traditional yeasted poppy seed roll (Mohnzopf)

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.poppy seed mill | lucky star anise


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!

traditional poppy seed pastry | lucky star anise poppy seed pastry | lucky star anise traditional poppy seed pastry | lucky star anise

  1. Your picture are always STUN-NING!!
    Jesus, how do you do it?

    • luckystaranise

      Thanks so much sweetie! I don’t know, I tend to always focus on the imperfections in my own photos so I’m glad you like them!

  2. Wow, this looks amazing. I didn’t know there was such a tool as a poppy seed grinder! My mom is Russian and part of my family lives in Germany, so I have been familiar with this cake for many years, but never made it myself. I’ll definitely set your recipe aside for when it gets colder and I crave comfort food.

    • luckystaranise

      Thanks Darya! Nice to hear that you have similar memories of this cake. I found it was much less work than I expected, except for those tough little poppy seeds :)

  3. This marbled bread is so beautiful, and i want one of those seed mills so badly! I do own a cast iron pan — one of the only things I have bought for my kitchen, and only this summer did i buy a mini food processor. It is more fun this way, I think, to make with only the tools that you have.

    • luckystaranise

      Thanks so much Myriam! I totally agree, not having everything forces you to be creative and is definitely more fun. One day I’ll have to invest in the cast iron pan though :) Hope you’ll come across a seed/grain mill soon.

  4. What a lovely cake – I just made an Anglicised version of a Nußzopf, which I’ll need to write up into a post. I love the poppy seed version, but have never tried to make it!

    • Basically yes – I made little buns, though, in a cake tin. Easier to share than a Zopf ;-)

      • luckystaranise

        Ah ok, that makes sense :) looking forward to the pictures :)

      • They’ll never be as beautiful and atmospheric as yours!

      • luckystaranise

        Oooh, thanks dear Ginger – but not true, I think your pictures are great and love reading your recipes!!!

    • luckystaranise

      Oh great, would love to read about your Nusszopf experience! Is it similar to the poppy seed thing, except for the filling?

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