Poppy seeds are wildly popular in Eastern Europe and appear in everything from sweet to savory foods. For many Eastern Europeans, particularly Poles, Ukrainians, Hungarians, Russians, Lithuanians, Slovaks, Czechs and Slovenians, poppy seeds are a symbol of wealth, the tiny seeds representing coins. They figure prominently at Christmastime and New Year's expressing hoped-for prosperity in the coming year.
Poppy seed roll is an indispensable dessert for the holidays, especially Christmas and Easter.
Probably the most popular pastry is poppy seed roll, also known as poppy seed strudel and known variously as:
Place poppy seeds in a small pot, cover with boiling water and set aside for 24 hours.
Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup margarine, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 egg, and baking powder in a large bowl and knead into a smooth dough.
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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a deep quarter sheet pan (9×13-inches) and line with parchment paper.
Bake the cake for about 45 minutes, until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert it onto a wire rack and let cool completely, about 2 hours. Dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar, cut into squares and serve.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease and flour an 8-inch square baking pan, tapping out any excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk the 1 1/3 cups of flour with the baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the butter with the granulated sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the poppy seed mixture and beat at medium speed until just combined. Add the eggs to the batter one at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil. Remove from the heat, add the poppy seeds and cover. Let stand for 1 hour. Scrape the seeds into a blender and pulse until lightly crushed.
Lauren Chattman brings out the taste of the poppy seeds in this cake by soaking them in hot water. She lightly crushes the seeds in a blender before mixing them into the batter. (Recipe adapted from Cake Keeper Cakes.) More Cake Recipes
The poppy seed cake can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.