poppyseed roll
Recipes Gastronomy Desserts

Poppyseed Roll – Makový závin

Poppyseed roll or makový závin is a Czech classic. Sunday tea or coffee, family celebration or just a regular afternoon, a Czech babi will whip up an excellent poppyseed roll any time. Here’s the recipe!

There’s really nothing difficult about this dessert which is usually made from yeast dough. The only limitation might be the country you live in. Some countries decided to ban or restrict the sale of poppyseed because it can be used to manufacture opium (let’s ban all fruit then because one could distill alcohol from it!). It is a complete nonsense, of course, poppyseed is easily accessible and very cheap in the Czech Republic and yet the country is no opium den. In other coutries it’s simply not a custom to cook with poppyseed so you can buy it in small quantities for a lot of money. So, if you ever visit the heart of Europe, you can get your supply (if your country allows you to import it).

Traditional Czech cuisine is full of delicious desserts, check out our recipes!

poppyseed roll

Supplies (for 2 sleeves):


  • 500 g/17,6 oz of flour (in CZ hladká mouka or polohrubá mouka)
  • 100 g/3,5 oz of sugar
  • 100 g/3,5 oz of unsalted butter
  • 250 ml/8,5 oz of lukewarm milk
  • 1 cube of fresh yeast (in CZ sold in cubes of 42 g)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg or 50 g/1,8 oz of butter to smear
  • pinch of salt


  • 500 g/17,6 oz of ground poppyseed
  • 200 g/7 oz of powder sugar (or to taste)
  • 300-400 ml/10-13,5 oz of milk

How to Make Poppyseed Roll

Make the Dough

Break the yeast into small pieces, put it in a bowl and mix it with 1 tsp of sugar until these two ingredients become liquid. It will seem impossible at first but you just have to kind of knead the yeast with sugar and as the yeast starts working, it will become a smooth liquid mixture in a minute. Add half of the milk and one tbsp of flour (all from the amounts given), stir a little and let it rest in a warm place for about 10 minutes, it will turn into soft foam.

Sieve the rest of the flour into a bowl and make a hole in the center. Put in the softened butter, the sugar, milk, 2 egg yolks and pinch of salt and the yeast mixture. Mix everything together and then start kneading the dough, ultimately with your hands. Take it out of the bowl and hit the working table with the dough, that helps to get the gluten really started. Knead for at least 10 minutes to get a lot of air into the dough.

Place the dough in a bowl, cover it with a clean rug and let it rest in a warm place until the volume doubles (60-90 minutes).

Make the Filling

poppyseed roll

Put the ground poppyseed and milk in a pot and heat it up. Let it simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes. Then take it off the stove and mix in the powder sugar.

Let’s Roll!

Sprinkle your working table with some flour and put the risen dough on it. Divide the dough in two and put one half back in the bowl.

poppyseed roll

Roll out a rectangle from the dough, it should be only about 5 mm/0,2 in thick because it will rise again in the oven. Spread the filling over the whole rectangle leaving only about 2,5 cm/0,5 in on each side.

Roll it up, close the ends and place the whole sleeve on a baking pan seam down. Make another sleeve with the other half of the dough or bake the first one first.

Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F.

Melt the butter for smearing of whisk the egg and smear the roll with it. Put it in the oven, bake for 10 minutes ad smear it again. Then bake it for another 15 minutes.


Stop the oven and if you’re using butter, smear it once more. Take the roll out of the oven and let it cool down at least half an hour.

Sprinkle with powder sugar.

poppyseed roll

Cut in slices and serve.

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