Austrian Sweet Poppy Seed Rolls: Mohnkranzerl aus Hefeteig

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(Original Post Date:  September 12, 2010)

This afternoon, I felt like baking something… something new and interesting.  So I google searched for Austrian recipes, as I had Mohnkuchen (Austrian Poppy Seed Cake) in mind.  Instead, I stumbled across this recipe for Poppy Seed Bread, erroneously under the heading of “German food”.  Although there are similarities, German food is not the same as Austrian food.  (Nor is Austrian food anything at all like Australian food.  Remember, there are no kangaroos in the land of Mozart!)  And this recipe is undoubtedly Austrian, from the Northwestern region of Austria, just across the Danube (Donau) River.

Now please… please do NOT buy those little tiny spice jars of poppy seeds from the spice aisle of your grocery store if you want to make this recipe.  Instead, find the international food aisle where the Indian spices are, and get yourself a large 9 oz. jar of poppy seeds (about 2 cups)… which (amazingly) is sometimes priced lower than the teeny tiny 1.75 oz. jars.  Store your poppy seeds in the freezer, as the oils in them tend to go rancid quickly.

Sweet Poppy Seed Filling:

  • 1 1/2 c. poppy seeds (200 grams)
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 c.)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 T. dark rum
  • 1 1/2 T. lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Sweet Dough:

  • 4 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 package dried yeast, or 2 1/4 tsp.
  • 5 T. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 c.)
  • 1 egg


  • 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 T. water

1.  Microwave the milk and butter for the dough in a large pyrex measuring cup for 2 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

2.  Next make the poppy seed filling.  Weigh out about 200 grams of poppy seeds.  By volume, this is approximately 1 1/2 cups.  Grind the poppy seeds in batches in a coffee grinder for about 30 seconds, or until they become cracked and the oils begin to come out.  You could probably do this in a food processor as well if you don’t have a coffee grinder.

3.  Dump the poppy seeds into a saucepan with all the remaining filling ingredients.

4.  Cook the filling over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the texture of a thickened paste.  The mixture will become watery first, then the poppy seeds will begin to absorb some of the moisture.  Set aside the filling and allow to cool to room temperature.

5.  Now make the dough.  Sift all the dry ingredients, including the yeast, together in a large bowl.

6.  Beat the egg into the cooled milk/butter mixture from step 1.  Then, pour into the dry ingredients.  Stir together with a fork until the mixture comes together, then knead the dough for 5 minutes into a smooth ball.

7.  Loosely cover the dough with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a draft-free place for 30 minutes.  When the dough has risen, and the poppy seed filling is cool, turn out the dough onto a large cutting board.  Divide the dough in half, and and cut into 6 equal pieces.  Meanwhile, cover the undivided half with the plastic wrap.

8.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Take two pieces of dough, and roll them each out into a 2 inch by 6 inch oval.

9.  Arrange about 2 T. of poppy seed filling along the middle of each piece of dough.

10.  Fold up the sides and pinch the edges together to form a cigar.

11.  With your hands, roll each cigar into a foot long (12 inch) rope.  Be careful and make sure the rope does not unseal and leak poppy filling out.

12.  Twist the two ropes over each other into a ring.

13.  Join the ends and seal.  With practice, you will be able to manipulate the ropes to have them seal underneath so that you don’t have any visible joints.  Set on an ungreased cookie sheet.

14.  Lightly brush each roll with the egg yolk glaze.  Make sure you don’t allow the egg wash to pool underneath the dough, as it will burn during baking.

15.  Sprinkle with sugar and poppy seeds.

16.  Place in the oven.  After 5 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees.  Bake for 25 minutes total.  Halfway through cooking, rotate the sheets for even browning.


  1. Colette says:

    You never said what to do with the other half of the dough you covered. I’m guessing from the pictures of the 6 complete rolls =12 cigar ropes= both halves of the dough so I’m assuming you turned that half into rolls as well? I’ll soon find out as I await my dough to finish rising!

    • Mika Mika says:

      Lol, Colette… you’re right! You leave half the dough covered so that it doesn’t dry out while you are making the first 3 rolls. Once you have made the first three rolls, you divide, roll out, and fill the rest of the dough to make the last 3 rolls.

      • Colette says:

        Thanks for your reply! I had a bit of trouble with getting the cigar shape rolled out thinner, the paste kept spilling out of the dough but I sort of got there in the end. They were so goooood, they were gone by the next day! I’m going to make them again today.

        • Mika Mika says:

          I’m glad it worked out for you! It takes a little practice, but the more you make it… the easier it becomes to roll out and fill the dough! :)

  2. GSO says:

    The rolls look great. I love they are filled and braided. Me, I am still stuck on mochi. Seems to me this poppyseed filling texture/sweetness might be good bean paste alternative. Just dreaming? Think it’s a good enough idea to make the effort? Bean paste from a can is pretty convenient esp when two cans are sitting on my counter. Peanut butter (from a jar!) looked pretty but was ok whatever. I want to keep an open mind.
    Ok, let you get back to your rolls.

    • Mika Mika says:

      Actually, I had the same thoughts myself. This poppy seed filling might work out well as a filling for mochi (instead of red bean paste)… but I haven’t tried it myself yet!

  3. susanna says:

    Hi, i know this recipe has been written a long time ago, but i have tons of poppy seed filling left from making hamantaschen for Purim.. can you tell me if I can freeze the dough prior to baking or after assembling? OR how long these rolls last so they don’t spoil?

    • Mika Mika says:

      I’m not sure if you can freeze the unbaked dough… but you can certainly freeze the rolls after they have been baked! Wrap the baked rolls tightly with plastic wrap (individually) then store in a ziplock freezer bag with the air pressed out. Defrost, then microwave for 20-30 seconds to warm up.

  4. Kay says:

    Making these today, since they look wonderful and I fell in love with the poppy seed fillings when I visited Austria.

    My one question: You say in the baking directions “After 5 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees.” — what was the temperature of the oven supposed to be before that? At no point can I find “Preheat oven to” directions.

    And as an added note: A Cuisinart with a standard blade will not process the poppy seeds. You do need the coffee grinder to make it work.

    Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hi there. I have edited the recipe to include the instructions of preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Good to know about the food processor – I usually go for a coffee grinder because of the small amount. I’m thinking a hand immersion blender might work too… haven’t tried it yet though!