Let’s talk about cakes. Let’s talk about tradition.
Christmas comes and goes but fortunately the festive season keeps spoiling us with family times, boozy cocktails and delightful food. We float in a miraculous bubble through to the New Year with heads full of plans and resolutions. We want to bring good change into our lives and reality so we can feel cheery all year round.
But as much as we’re waiting for new to arrive, we also look back at our lives, our stories and our traditions. We carry the old – eminent, good and familiar – with us.
Traditions that we keep alive are of a great importance, they keep the balance and give us comfort.
Makowiec or Poppyseed cake is one of those traditions that polish people cannot imagine Christmas without. It basically is a roll of sweet yeasted bread, or shortcrust, filled with poppyseed goodness.
It’s been in polish cusine forever but became truly beloved by everyone after WWII. Only the most wealthy families could have it as an everyday treat. In all the simple homesteads Makowiec was baked only for special occasions – like Christmas.
Poppies in polish folklore customs carry a lot of mystical powers. Eating poppyseed on Christmas was believed to bring happiness and joy to everybody as well as protect from all the eerie and spooky forces.
Likewise, poppyseed in Christmas dishes – next to honey and mushrooms – is a channel with afterlife!
Besides all the witchlike aura that the cake comes with, it is also rich with flavours, full of delicacies like nuts, dried fruits and subtely sweet with honey. It’s unforgettable and here is the recipe.
- 250g poppyseed, dry
- 2/3 cup plant based mylk
- 50g almonds, chopped
- 50g walnuts, chopped
- 50g candied orange peel + more to sprinkle
- 50g dried cranberries
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggwhites
- 200g plain flour
- 3 tbsp wholemeal flour
- 7g dried yeast
- 2/3 cup plan base mylk (I used rice mylk)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar
- remaining 1-2 egg yolks for an egg wash
- 1/4 cup icing sugar
- 2-3 tsp squeezed orange juice
- zest from 1 orange
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Filling: Soak the poppyseed in boiling water for few hours or overnight. Rinse the popyseed and boil with mylk on a small/medium flame untill the mylk is absorbed by poppyseeds.
- Mince, in a mincing machine, a coffee grinder or blender, well until the colour is changed from black to gray (more or less).
- Add all the nuts, dried fruits, honey and the rest of the filling ingridients beside egg whites and mix well.
- Taste the filling and add more sweetener/nuts accordingly to your liking.
- In the meantime make the dough: heat the mylk slightly (not hot) and put dried yeast, mix and cover for 5 minutes until foamy.
- Mix flour and sugar in a big bowl. Add mylk+yeast mixture and mix (you can do it by hand or use stand mixer with a hook attachment) until it comes together. Add butter and knead until smooth and elastcic (around 7-10 minutes). Put into a greased clean bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rise in a warm place for 1.5 hours (it will double or triple the size).
- Finish the filling: while the dough is rising, beat 2 egg whites and gently mix into the poppyseed.
- When the dough has risen punch it to get rid of the air. Roll into a ractangle on a slightly floured table. Spread thick layer of poppyseed mixture on the dough leaving some space on top.
- Roll the dough along the longest side and starting from the bottom. Pinched line should be on the bottom of the cake.
- Transfer the rolled cake onto a baking tray with baking paper.
- Cover with tea towel to rise for another 45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180 °C.
- Egg wash the top of the cake and bake for about 30 minutes until golden.
- Take out from the oven and leave to cool completely.
- Prepare the icing: Mix icing sugar with orange juice, vanilla and orange zest. Add more icing sugar/liquid if necessary.
- Spread the icing over the whole cake and sprinkle with candied orange peel.