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Poppy Seed pastries

I'm trying to find a recipe for poppy seed pastries, that I think are either Swedish or Jewish in origin. You know, the kind that are made into tarts or cookies with a really dense, gooey poppy seed filling. Anyone know what I'm talking about and can guide me? Thanks!

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  1. I think you may be thinking of hamantaschen? They're a triangular cookie with edges folded over a filling which is often poppy seed paste. Try a google search and you'll find plenty of online recipes.

    1. When I think of poppy seed pastries, I think of the more typical danish with poppy seeds rolled in the middle of it. Sweet from honey and filled with poppy seeds, these were my favourite, more so than chocolate.
      Hamantaschen are more traditionally filled with prunes, although you can get them filled with poppy seeds. I've never been a big fan of hamantaschen.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pescatarian

        Yes, or poppyseed bread, which a childhood friend's Polish mom used to make which reminds me so much of MIL's Slovenian potica (pronounced "poh-TEET-suh") which is a nut-filled bread. Here's a recipe that might help you with the poppyseed filling anyway...


      2. Search under "mohn." That's Yiddish for poppy seed filling. Although I don't like mohn hamatashen and won't make them my father thinks they're the only kind worth eating. The danish sounds more to me like what MissG is thinking of but I'm sure the right recipe will turn up.

        1. If hamentaschen with mohn filling is what you are thinking about, you can find the filling premade, canned, in some grocery stores in the jewish foods section. I personally don't care for it so never purchased and have never baked with it. Like rockycat my father loves it though. I'd guess making your own mohn wouldn't be that hard and might be better.

          11 Replies
          1. re: laylag

            It's actually not all that easy to make the filling. You have to grind the poppy seeds - a process which was not unreasonable in the days when everyone had a meat grinder. I think they kept a separate grinder plate just for poppy seeds. When I tried to duplicate the result using a food processor, I didn't find that it works very well. Just spins them around a bit - doesn't really grind them. Maybe a small coffee grinder would work - never tried that.

            1. re: Nyleve

              You can do it with a mortar and pestle in small batches, but it IS a lot of work... A coffee/spice grinder is a good idea. Next time I go back to the US, I have to remember to bring a few cans back with me... When I lived in the US, I used to buy mohn from Jewish bakeries, too.

              In my Jewish family, when I was growing up we made a more yeasty sort of poppy seed filled streudel-like pastry (could be long and streudel shaped or smaller). I've gotten several recipes, but none of them produces exactly what I remember (yeasty and bready, as opposed to buttery and/or flaky). Anyone have any ideas? Our family was from Eastern Europe (Russian then Poland, now the Ukraine).

              1. re: butterfly

                My Hungarian mothers strudel was made with sort of a cookie type dough - not very sweet but definitely a lot thicker than traditional strudel pastry. Might be what you're thinking. I doubt it contained yeast, though.

                1. re: Nyleve

                  Hmm, it's not cookie like, either (not that there's anything wrong with that!). It's definitely yeasty/bready.

                  1. re: butterfly

                    I think that if you made a challah-like dough, with less or no eggs you could use it to make the poppy seed pastries
                    When I make challah for the holidays, I ususally make one sesame, one raisin and one chocolate - the chocolate one kind of tastes like bubka and I can imagine them smaller with poppy seeds being similar to what you are looking for - glazed with a simple sugar.
                    Re grinding the poppy seeds, I don't recall the poppy seed pastries I ate as a child having such fine filling. You could definitely tell they were poppy seeds suspended in the sugary paste.

                    1. re: pescatarian

                      Here's a recipe I found for sesame danishes - I think you could use the dough:


                      1. re: pescatarian

                        Hmm, what you are describing actually sounds better than the ones that I remember from my childhood (ours were denser and less eggy than challah). I'm definitely going to try this. The sesame danish dough that you link to below looks exactly right... But I can't get sour cream where I live... I wonder if a full-fat greek yogurt would work in its place. I don't think our version had sour cream...

                        My mother claims she gave me the family recipe to make these, but it isn't doesn't turn out right and my other family members seem to have unconsciously migrated toward making a flakier kind of dough. The family member who would have known for sure isn't here to set us straight. The moral of this story: get those recipes while you can by watching the person in question make your beloved food. Don't trust what is written down... good bakers are very crafty.

                        1. re: butterfly

                          I think that full fat yogurt would do the trick.

                          I agree about learning from the experts while you can.

                      2. re: butterfly

                        Butterly, I complete agree with you. A family friend used to make "poppy seed rolls", but it was more like an airy bread. The poppy seed filling was in the center and the top had a light glaze on it. Heaven.

                        1. re: krisrishere

                          On the far off chance that butterfly happens to find this revived thread, I'd advise considering beigli (makos beigli, specifically), which is Hungarian, rather than Russian, Polish, or Ukrainian, but seems to match the description. The dough is made with yeast and is typically not terribly sweet. The shape resembles strudel, but beigli is rolled into a log, rather than layered. It's a traditional Christmas treat, but I believe that my mother's Slovak-Jewish family passed down a beigli tradition as well as the Hungarian side (Slovakia was, after all, a part of Hungary from the 10th-20th century).

                          Maybe there were some crypto-Hungarians in your lineage.

                          1. re: Michael Juhasz

                            Thanks, Michael! I think you hit the nail on the head. Beigli look exactly right (though I think we skimped a bit on the poppyseed filling because it was so expensive to make in big quantities). I live in Madrid now and here we have a big Romanian immigrant population and I've also found that they sometimes make a similar pastry at Christmas time, but it's a bit more cake-like (probably made with eggs, which ours wasn't).

              2. I would improvise...Mom used to make poppyseed struedel using a can of poppyseed filling and phyllo dough. Filling is made by Solo. Instead of a strudel log, cut phyllo into small pieces and put into cupcake tin. Slightly butter (melted) in between sheets and line each cupcake hole. Fill with poppyseed filling and bake. Another option is to use a cream cheese based dough instead of phyllo like one used for pecan tassies. I'm sure you could find a recipe on line. Good Luck. :)KQ

                1 Reply
                1. re: Kitchen Queen

                  I am looking for a recipe for a kolache my Grandmother always made at Christmas eve.
                  It was a kolache filled with prunes and then rolled in poppy seed. The poppy seed was sort of moist. Does this sound familiar, or do you know of a recipe like this?

                2. Here is a good recipe for poppy seed filling. Easy, and tastes so much better than the canned stuff.
                  Poppy Seed Filling
                  Mix in a blender jar or food processor with steel blade: 3/4 cup poppy seed, 3/4 cup blanched almonds, whole or chopped. Process until the consistency of corn meal.
                  In a small saucepan, combine the seed/almond mixture, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup milk, 3/4 tsp fresh lemon zest, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter. Cook over low heat with stirring until the mixture comes to a gentle boil and thickens. Takes about 10 min, and it will be the consistency of peanut butter. Cool and stir in 1/2 teaspoon of good vanilla extract. You can also substitute almond extract, but if you do, use less, about 1/4 teaspoon. Use the filling to fill any sweet yeast doughthat has risen once, and been punched down to make a coffee cake or individual pastries. Fill, and let the dough rise again. Bake, and glaze with frosting made of confectioners sugar, milk, a little butter, and some vanilla.
                  I find that purchased hot roll mix, using the sweetened version on the package, is a simple way to make a yeast coffee cake or pastries. Just follow the package directions. If you need more help, holler. I have a couple of sweet dough recipes that are good. Also, the good old Joy of Cooking has a good sweet yeast dough recipe.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: martmurt

                    Thanks for the great Poppy Seed Filling Recipe! I made the filling last night and layered it between buttered layers phyllo dough. Then I made a yummy sugar/honey/lemon glaze to put on top. My boyfriend and I really enjoyed it! I'm so glad I found this blog. Thanks again.

                  2. Are you thinking of rugelach cookies? Is hamentaschen another word for the same thing? They are little knot or crescent roll shapes about 1-1/2" big. Sometimes filled with apricot jam instead of poppy stuff. I buy them from Russian bakery in Brighton Beach.

                    Or maybe you are thinking of Ukrainian poppy seed rolls, like the ones the Future Bakery in Toronto used to make. (Ah, memories...) They are yeast-raised, I think, and are more strudel-shaped, maybe 2" by 6" long.

                    Maybe figuring out the name will help find a recipe.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: vicki_vale

                      Rugelach are completely different from hamentashen or from the poppy seed danishes.
                      Rugelach are a cream cheese dough filled with apricot jam sometimes as you say, but also sometimes with cinnamon sugar, chocolate, etc. Hamentaschen is a cookie usually made for Purim (Hamen was the bad king) and it's a plain hard triangular cookie usually filled with a prune filling (and others, but traditionally prune).
                      I don't think the OP is thinking of poppy seed rolls.

                      1. re: pescatarian

                        (Hamen was the bad king)
                        Actually, Achashverosh or Xerxes was the king, Haman was the chief advisor, or vizier. But I think "Haman's ears" is a lot easier to say than "Achashverosh's ears."

                    2. This challah recipe has lots of butter and sugar in it, and makes a good babka/ coffee cake dough rolled up with sweet fillings. Sorry for the length...

                      CAKE-LIKE CHALLAH

                      1 c. warm water
                      1 package yeast
                      4 1/2 c. unbleached flour
                      3/4 c. sugar or less to taste
                      2 tsp. salt
                      1 stick ( 1/4 pound) butter or margarine
                      3 eggs
                      poppy or sesame seeds optional

                      Mix water and yeast in large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups flour and 1/2 cup sugar. Mix with fork and let rise 1/2 hour in warm place. ( You can turn on the oven for a minute or two, then turn it off and put in your dough.)

                      Meanwhile, put 3 cups flour, salt, and 1/4 cup sugar in food processor and mix with metal blade. slice butter and add it to processor. Process until it's all mixed in. (Unlike cakes and piecrust, you don't have to worry about overworking the dough for bread. You work it and knead it to bring out the gluten, so process away.)

                      After yeast mixture has risen, mix in 2 beaten eggs. ( The third egg is for glazing, and since it doesn't take a whole egg for the glaze, you can add half of it with the other eggs.) Add the butter(c)flour mixture and stir in until it gets doughy and too hard to stir ( you can add a bit more flour if it stays loose). Then knead it on a floured surface until it's smooth and elastic. Put in oiled bowl, cover with dishtowel, and put in warm place (or warmed oven) to rise for two hours.

                      When dough has doubled, punch it down, knead a couple of times, and braid it. This recipe makes two small loaves or one impressive one. Place on oiled cookie sheet, cover lightly with towel, and let rise in warm place about an hour until it looks big and puffy. ( If you leave it too long the yeast bubbles could pop and it will flatten, and you'll have to knead and braid again. Not long enough and the bread will do all its rising as it bakes and have a pulled look , and will be somewhat dense.) Then brush with beaten egg, sprinkle with seeds, and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

                      1. Thanks for the challah recipe! Sounds like a keeper!

                        1. You may be thinking of kolaches, (also spelled kolace, kolach, or kolacky, from the Czech and Slovak plural koláče.) My grandmother used to make these with the poppyseed filling, my mother has always made them with prune or apricot. My mother now lives in a town that celebrates 'Czech Days' by having a festival where hundreds of the women that live in the town all make kolaches. They make 10's of thousands of them and sell them to all the visitors from surrounding states that come to the festival. My family was originally from Bohemia, (now Czech Republic.)

                          1. There's a Russian bakery/piroshky shop here in Seattle that makes wonderful poppy seed desserts - they're a rolled up yeasty pastry about three or four inches long by two or three inches across and filled with lots of thin moist layers of dough and poppy seeds inside. I don't have a recipe but if anyone has a recipe for something like this I wouldn't mind seeing it either! (And if you're in Seattle and want to taste these it's the piroshky shop on Broadway just south of John -- theirs are better than any I've found in the other piroshky shops)

                            1. I'm looking too - for the German Mohn Schnitten. The Hamantaschen is more like a shortbread cookie dough than a yeast-based pastry dough, but the filling is awesome. The Danish Pastry in Watertown, MA or anywhere where there is one does something close but not enough filling - just a schmear. I found some Czech Kolaches - made with yeast that I've yet to try. I really want to BUY them first somewhere, and then try to make them. Haven't been to Germany in 30 years, so I'm not sure if I want more more yeasty and bready like a cinnamon role or buttery/flaky like a croissant (which are a lot of work!). The Danish pastry is a hybrid - flaky, but not buttery. Let me know if you find a good recipe PLEEZ.

                              1. Polish version of that cake is called a "makowiec". I think there are recipes online, mine is in Polish, but I rarely make it, because I am the only one in the family wholikes poppy seeds!
                                I usually buy them in a Russian deli , but it's more of a single serving bun, not a cake like I am used to eating in Poland (BTW it's a must for Xmas)

                                1. Lots of good options here ... poppy seed cake, with a thick layer of poppy seed filling, is good too.