Saturday, 21 January 2012

Vegan Makovnjaca (Croatian Poppy Seed Strudel)

Makovnjaca was one of the first recipes which I came across when I started looking into Croatian Food for our January featured country - Croatia (obviously). There were a lot of different recipes out on the internet with quite a lot of variation - however, I can't credit it this to any of them because I pieced this together using ideas from a few different websites and then changed it to make it vegan. So, although it is a traditional dish - this one is very much my own recipe for it and therefore I can't comment on it's authenticity (perhaps a Croatian reader can help me out with this?).

As far as I could glean there were two types of makovnjaca on the internet - a light bready/cakey one and a denser and less fluffy strudel/danish one. This one is of the latter variety, as the pastry does not rise to make a fluffy cake. It was very delicious, particularly because it wasn't overly sweet. Before beginning Croatia Month I had never even thought to use poppy seeds as the fillings in my desserts - but having make 2 now (see the Poppy Seed and Almond Kolache recipe - link below) I am definitely a convert and will be trying to work it into my other desserts as much as possible to explore some new flavour combinations. Poppy seeds are also a good source of anti-oxidants, essential volatile oils, dietary fibre, B-complex vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium, manganese and potassium. They can also act to soothe anxiety and irritability and ease pain due to very small levels of opium alkaloids present in them.


600g wholemeal flour
150g nuttelex
100g castor sugar
200ml warm soy milk
1 tbsp golden syrup
4x 7g yeast sachets (28g)
5 tbsp water

2 cups poppy seeds
1 cup soy milk
½ cup sugar
5 tbsp apricot jam
1 tsp cinnamon
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp rum

To Make
1.  Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the warm milk and leave for 15 minutes.
2. Sift the flour into a bowl and cut the nuttelex into it. Rub the nuttelex into the flour with your hands until it forms a crumbly mixture with no large bits of nuttelex.
3. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast mixture, golden syrup and a few tbsp water. Mix well.
4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Put back in the mixing bowl and cover it with a tea towel. Let stand in a warm place to rest (it won’t rise much, so don’t worry if it doesn’t).
5. Put the poppy seeds, soy milk, jam, sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the mixture is thick and the jam is completely dissolved. Remove from heat stir the lemon zest and rum through.
6. Divide the pastry dough in half and roll out one half into a large rectangle (use the baking tray that you’re going to be using to determine the length of the rectangle.
7. Spread half of the poppy seed filling mix evenly over the rectangle. Roll up like a jam roll. Trim the edges to be neater and place on a tray lined with baking paper.
8. Do the same thing for the other half of the pastry and filling. Brush the tops of the rolls with either soy milk or melted nuttelex.

9. Bake at 170 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until the tops are browned slightly. Allow to cool completely.
10. Slice into 2cm slices and serve.

Makes 2 makovnjaca.

Check out our other Croatian Recipes:

(Savoury buns filled with creamy potato and pickles)

(Cracked Pepper Biscuits)

(Rice Filled Cabbage Rolls)

Croatian Pizza


  1. This looks great! I've wanted to make poppy seed cake for a while. How was the texture of the poppy seed mix? Did they soften a lot when cooking?

    1. Thanks! The poppyseeds didn't really soften up because I put them in whole. Traditionally in Croatia they have a special machine to grind the poppyseeds - I had no access to such a thing and the tough little seeds didn't respond at all to a food processor or a mortar and pestle - so they went in whole! It made for a delicious and slightly chewy mix, but once you put it in the pastry it didn't seem chewy or gritty at all.