December 12, 2015

The Best Poppy Seed Rolls

Last December 12, 2015, it was pouring heavily.  However, I still decided to drive the 13 miles to New Westminster for the 15th Annual Christmas Bake and Craft Sale at the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church - one of few active Slovak parishes in Canada.   I got there around 1 pm and by that time most of the baked good ones were gone.  I told myself I should have been there earlier – well next year.  

I paid $6.00 for “gulas” – an Eastern European soup/stew (often spelled in English as “goulash”).  When I had to turn in my empty bowl, I noticed the Slovakian ladies were wrapping in clear cellophane what looked like mini-croissants.   I was told they were “poppy seed rolls” – not the “roll” I am familiar with - the standard foot and a half long tubes you see in a bakery.

A sweet yeast bread with a sweet filling of poppy seed, 

Makové rožky, 

 is a Christmas dessert in parts of Central Europe and Eastern Europe.  Another filling preferred by other families is a paste of minced walnuts, hence a walnut roll.  

The 30ish lady who made the poppy seed rolls, Mirka, just walked in a few minutes ago.  The poppy seed roll-etes were baked half-an-hour ago and still warm.  At $5.50 for 7 pieces, I got two sets. Mirka said she prefers making small rolls rather than tubes because the dough comes out more evenly baked.  She said the longer the roll, the thicker the enveloping dough which has to be more brown (crunchier) on the outside to be fully done. 

Still raining, I hurriedly strutted back to my car.  Once ensconced inside, I grab one of the poppy seed rolls and my eyes opened wide. These were the Best poppy seed rolls I’ve ever had.    There was something in the taste of the melt-in-your-mouth dough in itself that stood out.  I finished one pack of  seven to my dietary chagrin.  I rushed back to the church hall.  Only one package of the poppy rolls was left (out of 7).  Thank you Lord!  

Then, I realized it was fortuitous I came in later to the church sale.   If I had been there earlier, I would have left sooner, and missed Mirka’s creations.

Mirka was kind enough to share me the recipe.  Here is her e-mail:

Hello Joseph,

I would like to give you recipe but it is hard for me to explain step by step how to make them. You also need to have mill for poppy seeds. 

Here is recipe for dough:
1 kg flour
500ml milk
4g fresh yeast
3 eggs
300ml oil
1 spoon of baking powder
1 tee spoon of salt
4 spoons of sugar

This is the kind of dough you need to let yeast grow first. I am not sure if you have experience of using fresh yeast.

Ground poppy seeds mix with hot milk with lots of regular sugar . Filling must thick. Not too much milk!!!  Poppies are bitter, you need really lots of sugar. Let sugar desolve in hot milk. If you need to add more sugar in filling, then use icing sugar. Because sugar needs to be desolved . 


Fresh Yeast?  I think that was it together with the proportion of the other ingredients and the filling which made Mirka’s poppy seed rolls outstanding.  Although, upon doing my online research, many home bakers find no noticeable difference in flavor between fresh and instant dry yeast.  

There was an online comment that is worth investigating:

“Apparently those that are sensitive to wheat and gluten will find that making bread with fresh yeast will often fix the problem. It has to do with the long rising stage. Many people experience bloating, discomfort or irritable bowel symptoms with bread made the fast way with dry yeast - which doesn't break down the irritants in wheat flour. Saw this on a Catalyst science progam recently.”

I wish I can see in person how Mirka does the poppy seed rolls - someday. 

If you want to order, contact Mirka at  604 930 0074 or through her husband’s  Vladimir Plavak e-mail address:

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