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Sourdough Poppy Seed Rolls, Ukrainian Recipe (VIDEO)

Updated: Mar 9

These sourdough poppy seed rolls are delightful to have around the holidays either to have on a Christmas morning with a cup of coffee or pass as a gift to someone you love.

sliced poppy seed roll

In Ukraine, poppy seed rolls are known as "Strudeli z Makom". But poppy seed rolls are a widely popular Eastern European delicacy, and a most irresistible treat especially when paired with a great cup of tea. Poppy seeds are found whole sprinkled on breads, rolls and cookies, but to release their true flavor my Mom and Grandma knew you must grind them. Ground poppy seed filling gives the rolls the perfect creamy balance of slightly nutty, pleasant bittersweet fruitiness that always brings back memories of home.

sliced poppy seed roll

This recipe is the last recipe of 2023 from the innichkachef kitchen.

As part of my usual Christmas preparations, I always include the making of rolls; either poppy seed or nut.

I hope you saw my innichkachef kitchen video from last year that I published on December 21st 2022, which was the recipe Neil's Nut Roll Indulgence . It has a piece of my heart in it, because the recipe was passed on to me in order to keep a Christmas tradition going from a gentleman whose parents were Ukrainian immigrants making him the first born American in their family. Everyone from our church parish enjoyed and will remember forever, Neil's nut rolls. In this video he teaching me how to make a nut roll, one month later he left us. Rest in piece Neil!

This is a photo of his writing to me about another type of roll containing poppy seed filling.

recipe printed on a piece of paper

In the recipe I am sharing today, there isn't a repeat of dough based on commercial yeast, but instead I am sharing my all time favorite easy sourdough dough recipe that I think is a little bit healthier, and for people who are sourdough lovers will be just a win-win.

3 whole rolls on a baking sheet


This traditional Ukrainian poppy seed roll recipe is tender, moist, and fragrant. It's packed with poppy seed flavor, and the soft true sourdough dough is the easiest sourdough dough to make. It will take your taste buds to nostalgic tea times with your grandma.


Full steps and ingredients are in the recipe below. But read through these for all the tips you will need for success!

Poppy seeds dry - just make sure they are fresh. Just like nuts, poppy seeds can have an unpleasant odor and a rancid smell.

Butter - best quality as always, with a higher fat content.

Heavy cream - organic with nothing added.

Milk - whole as always and organic if possible.

Flour - bread flour is my first choice, but all-purpose is fine too.

Eggs - when you choose eggs, keep in mind that the brighter the color of your yolks, the richer the final product.

Sourdough starter - active and bubbling.


bowl of dry poppy seeds

  • Poppy seed is an oil seed obtained from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum).

  • Poppy seed is mentioned in ancient medical texts from many civilizations.

  • It takes 3,300 poppy seeds to make up a gram, and a pound contains between 1 and 2 million seeds.

  • Poppy seeds are widely used in Austrian, Indian, Croatian, Czech, German, Hungarian, Romanian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian, Slovak, and Turkish cuisines.

  • Poppy seeds are rich in fiber, healthy fats, and many minerals.


Absolutely, after baking do not wait too long,  just bring to room temperature, then wrap tight with a plastic wrap, then place into a freezable zip lock bag.

Do You Have a Sourdough Starter?

Like all the recipes featured on Bubbling Starter, this bread is made with a sourdough starter. To learn how to make your own; check out my page here.

If you don't use this recipe for th dough.

Making your own Poppy Seed filling

Personally I find making poppy seed filling is a tad bit labor intensive.  Though making it at home results in the most delicious filling for your rolls.  Remember, grinding is the only way to get the resulting nutty taste.   If you don’t grind them you will miss out on 90 percent of the flavor and totally miss the intended texture. Pre-soaking, and parboiling the poppy seeds is essential to easily grind it. You can save yourself an hour or two and buy it at your local European grocery store. Just keep in mind the ingredients list should be clean.

container of poppy seed filling

If however you want to make your own, here are the 3 ways it can be done:

1st - pre-boil or pre-soak poppy seeds and then process with an immersion blender, all the steps you can find in this recipe Palyanytsia (Ukrainian bread) with Poppy Seed Milk.

bread and poppy seed milk in a bowl and sliced bread on a side

2d - pre-boil or pre-soak poppy seeds and then process using a mortar and pestle. This is the old fashioned way and all the steps you can find in this recipe Kutia Wheat Porridge, Ukrainian Christmas Eve Main Dish

wooden bowl and spoon with wheat porridge

3d - is the best way, which is grinding poppy seeds dry in your regular coffee grinder, and then boiling them together with rest of ingredients for the filling.

Let's make it...

Prep time: 5 minutes

Waiting time: 8 -10 hours

Making time: 30 minutes

Baking time: 35 minutes

Total time: 11 hours and 10 minutes

Author: Inna of

Total: 6 -8 rolls (depends on a size)

ingredients for the dough

Ingredients for the dough

180 grams active sourdough starter (about 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon)

4 egg yolks

1 teaspoon pink salt

50 grams (1/4 cup) raw cane sugar

450 grams (2 cups) whole milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

750 grams (6 & 1/4 cups) bread flour

80 grams (6 tablespoons) melted butter

ingredients for the poppy seed filling

Ingredients for the filling (I used only 1/3 of all ingredients in a picture above)

2 cups dried poppy seeds (watch the video on how to grind) 

1 egg

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon butter

pinch of pink salt (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (optional)

1 tablespoon amaretto (optional)

1-2 eggs for egg washing

Directions for poppy seed rolls

  • First, it is best to make the dough the night before. Add to the electric mixer with a whisk attachment: starter, sugar, milk, yolks, vanilla extract and whisk all together.

  • In another bowl mix together flour and salt.

  • Then switch to the hook attachment and on low speed slowly add the flour, and when the flour is incorporated or close to being incorporated, then slowly pour in the butter.

  • Mix everything for 1-2 minutes or until the dough starts to lift up from the walls of the mixer.

  • Transfer dough onto a floured surface and let it rest for ideally for 20 minutes.  Use a dough scraper to shape it into a ball. Yes, the dough will look like it needs more flour, but keep working with the scraper and don't add more flour.

  • Oil a bowl and move the dough to the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. Oil or grease your hands. Now stretch and make one fold at each corner of the dough. Be sure to watch this part of the poppy seed video to see how to do this step. Cover with plastic wrap and put into the fridge for 8-24 hours. The dough will continue to slowly rise.

  • Take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Allow 1-2  hours before working with the dough. Now start working on the filling.

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.

  • For the filling: add ground poppy seeds and the rest of the ingredients into a sauce pan. On very low heat, whisk and cook for 10 minutes or so until it thickens.

  • Remove from the heat and let it cool.

  • Take the dough and divide it into 8 pieces. You can create more or less pieces, it's up to you.

  • Make a ball out of each piece of dough. Take one ball to roll out but make sure to keep the others covered with a towel. This will keep the dough from drying out.

  • Roll into a rectangle and then spoon out the poppy seed filling with 3 heaping tablespoons per roll. Spread out the filling using an offset spatula. Leave a 1 inch border of dough around the filling.

  • Apply the egg wash with a brush to the edges of the dough and then start rolling. Watch the video for this step. Finish by tucking in the ends of the dough. Repeat with the remaining dough and poppy seed filling.

  • Place the rolls, with the seal down, onto a baking pan that has been prepared with baking paper or use a mat baking sheet.  

  • Cover with a damp kitchen towel and leave to rise for 20-30 minutes.

  • Egg wash the rolls and using a fork, prick indentations along the entire length of each roll.

  • Place into a preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, keep an eye on it.

  • Remove from the oven and  allow the rolls to rest for 5 minutes and then move them onto the cooling rack. Don't slice until they are completely cooled to room temperature.

white plate with sliced poppy seed roll

I hope you'll make this recipe soon. If you do, please tag me #innichka_chef on Instagram, Facebook, Patreon, or Pinterest. 

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