What do Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic (and many others) have in common? Apart from the fact that we are talking about the countries of Eastern Europe, in all these countries, poppy seeds are often used in cooking.
Eastern Europe is known for its rich, filling dishes as well as the use of poppy seeds, cumin, dill and all thing paprika, among other popular ingredients. But let’s leave these other ingredients for another time. Today we will focus on poppy seeds.
Poppy seeds are small, dried seeds of the opium poppy. Yes, exactly the poppy from which opium is made, however poppy seeds do not have any narcotic properties because the liquid from the bud from which opium is made is only present until the seeds are fully developed.
Poppy seeds are mainly used as a spice for sprinkling bread, pastries, muffins and cakes, but in Eastern Europe, poppy seeds are widely used in the preparation of desserts and numerous other dishes. The reason for this, apart from the fact that it is a tasty product, is also a bit of good old superstition and local legends, because in Eastern Europe poppy seeds mean good luck, wealth, prosperity and a bright future.
It is for this reason that poppy seed cakes are popular at New Year’s tables. Also, the Hungarian word for poppy is “mák” can also mean “luck”. Considering that I love to cook, and even more to bake cakes, I also like to try different ingredients and introduce new ideas into my kitchen. And that’s how I realized some time ago, that even though I’m constantly baking something, lately I’ve mostly been using the same proven recipes. And that’s rarely a good idea, especially if we want to progress and discover new wonderful recipes and flavors.
So, quite by chance, poppy seeds and apples came to my mind. Why not, sounds like a pretty good combination, right? I started doing some research and found various recipes that come from Poland and Germany, and which contain these two ingredients. I decided on a traditional Polish apple and poppy seed cake, with minor modifications on my part.
The result was better than expected, and everyone who tried this cake concluded that it was one of the best cakes they had ever eaten. Which is a pretty strong statement, especially considering I’m constantly baking something.
Today I’m giving you this recipe, I called it traditional Polish apple and poppy seed cake. It’s easy to make, you don’t need a lot of different ingredients, and it’s sure to delight your family or guests. Ready? Let’s bake!
– 200 g of ground dried poppy seeds
– 500 ml of hot milk
– 2 apples (peeled, grated and squeezed out of excess liquid)
– 6 eggs
– 7 spoons of semolina
– baking powder
– 120 g softened butter (room temperature)
– 200 g of powdered sugar
– 1 cup of chopped walnuts
– 100 ml of heavy cream
– 100 g of dark chocolate
– Candied cherries rolled in sugar
– crushed almonds
Pour 500 ml of hot milk over the poppy seeds and leave covered to cool for about 40 minutes. After that, drain the poppy seeds through a fine sieve. Peel the apples, grate them and squeeze out the excess liquid. This is necessary so the cake is not wet.
Separate the whites from the yolks, add a pinch of salt and beat them into stiff peaks. In a separate bowl, mix the powdered sugar and butter at room temperature, add the egg yolks one at a time and mix until a fluffy and light mixture is formed, about 3-4 minutes.
Reduce the speed of the mixer and gradually add poppy seeds, semolina, baking powder and apples. Stir gently to combine all ingredients. Add the chopped walnuts and carefully mix in the egg white snow. Pour the mixture into a 28 cm mold (lined with parchment paper).
Bake at 180C in a preheated oven for about 40 minutes. However, since every oven is different, check the cake after 30 minutes. The cake is ready when the toothpick is dry after sticking it in the middle. Leave the cake to cool and start preparing the chocolate topping.
Heat 100 ml of cream in a bowl and melt 100 g of dark chocolate. Mix thoroughly until a smooth and homogeneous mixture is formed. After that, pour over the cake.
While the chocolate is still soft, sprinkle the cake with almond slices and decorate with candied cherries that you previously rolled in sugar.
This cake is so delicious and such a crowd pleaser that I will be making it regularly from now on. I also think it would fit beautifully into a Christmas menu, and the candied cherries can also be replaced with candied orange peel.