Macowiec is a Polish sweet bread, a dessert with a subtle sweetness that’s best taken with a cup of tea. The dough is crisp and dry on the outside, and gets sweeter and more moist toward the middle. The poppy seed filling is moist throughout, and is the most rewarding part of the experience. It’s slightly sweet, with a pleasing texture and completely unique taste.
There are a couple of things non-traditional about this version of macowiec, mainly the shape. This recipe calls for creating a roll, and then cutting the roll into cinnamon-bin shaped spirals. I like that. The traditional way to eat this is to have the bread in long loaves, spiraled on the inside and cut when served. The other variant to traditional macowiec is that I used dried cherries instead of raisins.
(Polish Poppy Seed Bread)
adapted by the recipe by Margo Maszkiewicz
poppy seed filling:
1/2 lb poppy seeds
2 cups whole milk
7 tbsp butter
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup dried fruit, chopped (leave whole if raisins)
1/3 cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped
2 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp rum or brandy (optional)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk, warm
2 eggs, beaten
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
pinch of salt
zest of 1 lemon, grated
egg wash (wisk together):
pinch of salt
1 tsp water
lemon glaze (wisk together):
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup milk
First, cook the poppy seeds!
Take the 2 cups of milk and set in a pot on medium-high heat along with the poppy seeds. Bring milk to a boil. One the milk boils, lower the heat so the milk doesn’t scald, and cook until poppy seeds are soft and most of the milk is absorbed, about 20-30 minutes. Take off the heat and drain through cheesecloth; set aside.
Now, the dough.
Get things started by mixing together the yeast, the 1/2 cup warm milk, a tsp from the amount of sugar, and about 1/2 cup flour. Let sit 10 minutes. Incorporate half of remaining flour, sugar, and egg into the batter, and let dough rest for 10 additional minutes. Add all remaining flour, sugar, and egg. Once dough has all ingredients incorporated, attach dough hook to kitchen mixer and mix on slow speed for about 10 minutes. After dough has been worked, cover dough in bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.
Now we’re back to working on the poppy seed filling. We need to create a fine paste from the poppies, so the best thing to do is process through a meat grinder 2 or 3 times. (I have a cuisinart food processor, which in my opinion did the job poorly.) Once you have a paste, add the butter and honey to a medium pot. Heat until butter is melted and honey-butter starts to bubble. Add fruit and nuts; stir. Stir in poppy seeds, and cook everything together for about 10 minutes. Don’t let mixture burn or stick to the bottom of the pot. Set poppy seed filling to the side to let cool down until it is a warm (not hot!) temperature.
Turn the oven on to 350 degrees.
Beat together egg yolks with vanilla, and add to poppy seed filling.
Now beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, and add to poppy seed filling. Finally, add a tablespoon of rum or brandy if desired. Set aside.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead about 10 minutes or until texture is pliable and not as sticky. Roll out dough into a rough rectangle. Spread poppy seed filling evenly across rolled-out dough. Gently roll rectangle from top to bottom and tuck dough around filling.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut dough into sections about 1 inch apart. Set spirals on baking sheet, right next to each other if desired.
Create egg wash, and brush across all the spiral rolls.
Bake approximately 45 minutes or until macowiec is a rich brown color.
Once rolls are done and taken out of the oven, drizzle with the lemon glaze.