Mak Pirog (Poppy Seed Strudel)

  • Serves

    makes 2 LOAVES


Filled with a moist, sweet poppy seed paste, this rustic yeast-dough roulade is a comfort food eaten throughout Eastern and Central Europe. This recipe first appeared in our April 2012 issue along with Gabriella Gershenson's story Flower Power.


  • 6 tbsp. milk, heated to 115°, plus 1/3 cup
  • 1 (1/4-oz.) package active dry yeast
  • 34 cup sugar
  • 14 cup canola oil, plus more for greasing
  • 1 14 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 34 cup ground poppy seeds (available at Kalustyan's)
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 14 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp. heavy cream, for egg wash
  • Whole poppy seeds, to garnish


Step 1

Make the dough: Whisk together 6 tbsp. heated milk and yeast in a bowl; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Whisk in 1⁄4 cup sugar, the oil, 1 tsp. salt, and the egg and yolk; add flour, and stir until dough forms. Transfer to a floured work surface; knead until smooth, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let sit until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Punch down dough; cover, and let sit until puffed, about 1 hour.

Step 2

Meanwhile, make the filling: Heat remaining milk, sugar, and salt, and ground poppy seeds, butter, and zest in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; cook, stirring, until thickened and smooth, about 4 minutes. Stir in vanilla, and let cool.

Step 3

Heat oven to 350°. Punch down the dough, and halve it; transfer each half to a work surface and, using a rolling pin, flatten each into a 10″ x 14″ rectangle. Spread half the poppy seed filling over each rectangle and fold the longer sides 1″ toward the center; starting from one short side, fold up rectangles into 3″-4″-wide flat loaves. Transfer loaves, seam side down, to a parchment paper—lined baking sheet, and brush tops with egg wash; sprinkle with whole poppy seeds. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

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