Guest post by my housemate Simone
Poppy seed cakes are the centre of my childhood memories. As I grew up I came to realise poppy seed cakes, and they’re glorious variations, were a part of every German child’s favourite memories. This post is about Mohnstreuseul Kuchen, or poppy seed crumble cake.
Traditionelle mohnkuchen (traditional poppy seed cake), kaiserschmarren with poppy seeds (shredded pancake of the emperor) and orangen mohn marmor kuchen (marble cake with poppy seed and orange) are the typical Sunday cakes you can find in any traditional German home.
In my childhood house, poppy seed cakes were a rare treat that mum and dad used to bake for special occasions, particularly birthdays.
However, when I travelled to Germany in 2006 I found delicious poppy seed cakes were readily available at corner bakeries. And, in major cities, every corner had a bakery! Mohnstreuseul Kuchen (poppy seed crumble cake) was my favourite.
Mohnfüllung or “poppy seed filling” is a strange coloured bluish-black mixture made by mixing sugar, cream, vanilla bean and ground poppy seeds. When mixed it turns into a delicious bitter sweet mixture that’s neither too sweet nor too savoury.
In Australia, ground poppy seeds are not easy to come by. In fact, I wouldn’t even bother searching for it because there are so few people who really know this European secret.
There are various ways to grind the poppy seeds with everyday household appliances – using a coffee grinder, a food processor (given that you pre-soak them) or maybe even a meat grinder. Luckily for me, my parents have a specialty mohnmüller or poppy seed grinder.
Every year when I visit my parents in Melbourne I stock up on poppy seeds, which I then grind and bring back to Canberra. At least 1kg each time! These ground poppy seeds are used to make my favourite recipe of all – mohnstreusel kuchen (“poppy seed crumble”).
There are three main components to this poppy seed cake: the yeast dough, the poppy seed filling and the crumble topping.
Part 1 – Hefeteig “the yeast dough”
- 75ml warm milk (approx. 30 degrees Celsius)
- 30g sugar
- 50g butter, room temperature
- 330g flour. For this style of cake I prefer high gluten white flour, such as the Italian 00 flour. If you cannot find Italian 00 flour at your local supermarket then any normal white flour will do. Although I would avoid using a heavy flour like wholemeal, buckwheat or rye
- 15g fresh yeast
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 egg
- 2 egg yolks
- Add the warm milk, 15g sugar, 30g flour and fresh yeast to make a pre-dough mixture. Leave the mixture in a warm area until it has doubled.
- Add 300g flour, 15g sugar, salt, butter, one egg and two egg yolks to the pre-dough mixture and knead to a smooth dough. Cover it with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm spot until it rises three times the size.
Note: I made this dough using Jen’s sourdough pet “Petrie” but I don’t recommend this because Petrie took 3 days to grow properly.
- Knead the dough lightly and roll it out until it fits on your greased oven tray (recommend size 26cm by 35 cm). Leave it for an hour or two until it has doubled or until you get impatient.
Part 2 – Mohnfüllung “the poppy seed filling”
- 500ml milk
- 150g sugar
- One vanilla bean (or substitute for vanilla essence if you’re lazy like me)
- 40g vanilla cremepulver (I think the best substitute for this is milk powder. I used custard powder because that’s what was available)
- 2 egg yolks
- 500g mohnfix (In Germany, it is possible to buy mohnfix or a pre-made “poppy seed mixture” in just about every supermarket. Living in Australia things are a little different, to substitute I use 500g of ground poppy seeds
- 100g quark (or use a high-fat milk cream cheese such as mascarpone or crème fraiche.
- Shaved peel from ½ an orange and ½ a lemon.
The mohnfüllung is super easy to make, just be careful not to burn the milk.
- Heat 400ml of milk, the sugar and vanilla bean in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves.
- Mix 100ml of milk, vanilla cremepulver and the egg yolk in a small bowl. Add to the saucepan and whisk together.
- Add the mohnfix (ground poppy seeds), quark and grated lemon/orange peel until all the milk has been absorbed and the mixture is thick.
Part 3 – Streusel “the crumble topping”
- 150g plain flour
- 75g icing sugar (you can also use caster sugar)
- 75g cold butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and/or nutmeg.
- To make the streusel, add the flour, butter, cinnamon/nutmeg, egg yolk and icing sugar to a bowl and mix it with your hands. Crumble the mixture by rolling it through your fingers.
Assemble the layers
Once the mohnfüllung (poppy seed mix) is cool, spread evenly on the Hefeteig (dough). Crumble the streusel over the top.
You’re nearly done – wack it in the over at 180 degrees Celsius until the streusel is golden brown and you think the dough is baked through. This should take about 25 to 30mins.
Germans typically serve this like any other dessert – with icing sugar over the top and a healthy dollop of schlagsahne or “whipped cream”.