mohnstollen - poppy seed log
Updated: Fri, 30 October, 2020
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Stollen with poppy seeds instead of marzipan is called Mohnstollen in German and makowiec in Polish. I honestly don’t know which kind of Stollen I prefer so I have to bake both!
What is mohnstollen or makowiec?
Mohnstollen is a Christmas log, traditional in Germany, Austria and in Poland, known there as makowiec. It’s made with that fascinating dough leavened with yeast (or sourdough if you prefer) that the English language struggles to name.
Bakes raised on yeast are breads. Bakes raised on chemical agents are cakes. But to call mohnstollen ‘bread’ seems completely inappropriate: you wouldn’t butter a slice, and it’s not baked in a loaf tin.
The French call it ‘brioche’
The dough is the rich brioche-like kind, the same as the marzipan and fruit Stollen is made of. Except this time no fruit, no marzipan; it’s rolled out quite thin and filled with the gorgeous, fragrant poppy seed filling. It’s then rolled up into a log, baked and basted profusely with melted butter and sugar.
Poppy seeds not only for lemon cake
Poppy seeds make such a fantastic festive filling for breads, cakes and little bites that it’s a shame they are not more popular in the bits of Europe west and south of Dresden. In Poland, Germany and Austria you can buy ready-made Mohnback, ground and cooked, sugared and spiced, ready to use.
I was feeling intimidated for a long time by the concept of making Mohnback at home, having vague recollections of my grandmother boiling the seeds for ages like she was auditioning for Breaking Bad, then putting them through an old-fashioned mincer at least twice, the kitchen covered with black clumps of poppy because it gets everywhere.
How to prepare poppy seed filling?
There is a much easier way though (Grandma clearly liked a challenge) and it’s about grinding the seeds BEFORE you cook them in an ordinary coffee grinder or a spice grinder. It’s easy-peasy and it doesn’t take three minutes.
The poppy seeds smell excellent when they are ground and there is a naughty waft of smoke/steam coming out when you open the grinder. The cooking and spicing takes no time at all either and you can make up a batch of the Mohnback filling in advance. It keeps well in the fridge and can also be frozen.
The recipe for the poppy filling comes from NY Times cooking site, and my Stollen dough is tried and tested many times.
mohnstollen - poppy seed logServings: makes 2 Stollen loavesTime: 3-4 hours
- For the poppy seed filling:
- 250ml milk
- 110g sugar
- zest of ½ orange
- 1 vanilla pod, cut open and seeds scraped out
- 140g poppy seeds
- 70g raisins
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- ½ tablespoon brandy
- 1 tbsp. butter
- For the starter dough:
- 175g strong white flour
- 7g fast-action or 30g fresh yeast
- 150ml whole milk, at room temperature
- For the spice mix:
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1½ tbsp. caster sugar
- For the main dough:
- 175g strong white flour
- 50g caster sugar
- 1 free-range egg yolk
- 40ml milk
- 150g unsalted butter, softened
- For the coating:
- 50g butter, melted
- icing sugar to dust
The poppy seed filling can be prepared ahead and will last in a jar stored in the fridge for up to a week.
1. Grind the poppy seeds in a coffee grinder almost to a powder.
2. Put the milk, sugar, vanilla seeds and the pod, and orange zest in a pan and bring to the boil. Fish out the vanilla pod and discard.
3. Add the poppy seeds and raisins and turn the heat down so it just simmers. Stir every now and then and cook for about 15 minutes until almost all the liquid is absorbed and the poppy seeds thicken considerably.
4. Add the lemon juice, the brandy and the butter, stir in and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the mix reaches thick, spreading consistency. Leave to cool.
5. For the dough, mix all the ingredients for the starter in a large bowl. Cover with cling film and leave for an hour in a warm place. In the meantime grind the cardamom seeds in a pestle and mortar and mix with the other spices and the sugar.
6. Add all the spice mix save for 1 tsp to the starter dough together with the ingredients for the main dough apart from the butter. Add a pinch of salt, then mix with your hands or in a standing mixer with the dough hook attachment for about 2 minutes. Add half the butter, then knead in the bowl for a couple of minutes before adding the rest of the butter. Knead until all the butter is mixed in and the dough is beginning to look silky smooth, stops sticking to your hands or bounces off the sides of the standing mixer bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean sheet of cling film and set aside to rise for 1 hour, punching it once to degas halfway through the time.
7. Divide the dough in half. Pat each piece down to form a rough rectangle, then roll it tightly from the top towards you. Leave it to relax for 10 minutes.
8. Flatten each roll and roll it up again from the narrow side, leave for another 10 minutes – this will tighten the dough and limit the risk of the log unfurling or cracking when baking.
9. Roll out each piece of dough into a rectangle about 30x30cm – it should be quite thin. Using a palette knife spread the poppy seed filling thinly all over the surface and roll it up tightly. Make sure the seam is sealed very well and tucked underneath the log.
10. Place the Mohnstollen on a baking sheet lined with parchment, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to prove for about 40 minutes. while the oven preheats to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.
11. Bake the Mohnstollen for 15 minutes or until they start to brown, then reduce the heat to 150°C/ 130°C fan/gas 2 and bake for further 35-40 minutes. If the tops turn dark quickly, cover loosely with foil.
12. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Remove the Stollen from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes, then coat them at least twice all over with butter using a pastry brush. Mix the icing sugar with the remaining spice mix and dust the logs generously.