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Russian Poppyseed Pinwheels (Булочки с маком)

July 18, 2010

When I lived in Russia, my favorite pastry was bulochki s makom (булочки с маком), or poppyseed pinwheel rolls.  They look similar to cinnamon rolls, and are assembled with the same technique, but are filled with a paste made by boiling poppyseeds in honey and milk.  While I’ve been to some good Russian bakeries in Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, bulochki s makom don’t seem to be a common item.  Piroshky in Pike Place Market, Seattle, does offer delicious poppyseed rolls, but they include raisins, which I found intruded on my culinary nostalgia.  I haven’t discovered any Russian bakeries here in Iowa, so once again I’ve turned to my own kitchen with a spirit of experimentation.  None of my Russian cookbooks contained a recipe for these pastries specifically, so I modified my dough recipe for cinnamon rolls, and based the filling on a recipe in Medovaya kulinariia by Lidia Lagutina.

Russian Poppyseed Pinwheels

2 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

6 Tbsp butter

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp honey

3 1/2 cups flour, divided

2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast

1 tsp salt

The dough is best made with all ingredients at room temperature.  Melt the butter and let it cool.  Whisk together the eggs, butter, buttermilk, sugar, and honey until well blended.  Whisk in 2 cups of flour, yeast, and salt until smooth.

Using a wooden spoon, stiff spatula, or your hand, work in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour and knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic.  Shape the dough into a ball, roll it in an oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.  Leave to rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Turn the dough out onto a floured board and gently shape it into a rough rectangle.  Gently roll the dough into a rectangle about 18″ x 12″.  Spread the filling out evenly on the dough, leaving about 1/2 an inch along one short edge bare.

Starting at the other end, roll the dough up tightly enough to hold its shape but not so tightly that the filling squeezes out.  Pinch the bare strip of dough at the end along the roll to seal the seam.  Position the roll seam-downward on the board, and cut into a dozen 1″ wide rolls.  Lay the rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake about 15 minutes.  Brush the tops with honey, and continue to bake another 10-15 minutes, until deep golden brown.

Poppyseed Filling

3/4 cup poppy seeds

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup vanilla sugar

1/4 cup milk (I used soy milk, which is what I had on hand)

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and boil over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes.  Pour out into a bowl to cool slightly, and then grind in a food processor until the seeds form a thick paste.

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6 Comments
  1. July 18, 2010 10:08 pm

    They’re so delicious looking and the step-by-step photos are very helpful. I can’t wait to make these. I am a new blogger and would love for you stop by my blog and check it out. Your photos are great too…are you a photographer? What do you do about the lighting because your shots are very crisp and light, now dulled or yellow.

  2. July 19, 2010 12:48 pm

    Thanks for reading & for your kind comments, Geni. I’m not a professional photographer, although photography is one (small) component of my day job. The best amateur advice I can give you is to use natural light as much as possible, play around with the macro settings on your camera, and try shooting from unusual angles to create a fresh perspective. I’ll be sure to drop by your blog — and good luck!

  3. Lorrie permalink
    July 19, 2010 6:23 pm

    Nooooom. That is all.

  4. Susan Rappenwolf permalink
    August 12, 2010 12:14 am

    OK, next time you make those, I neeeeed one. I love poppyseed anything, but these remind me of poppyseed kolaches or kolatchkes. In the Chicago ‘burbs, our Bavarian-German neighbor made kolatchkes, sort of like thumbprint cookies, but with poppyseed or fruit fillings. As far as I am concerned, the only fruit toppings permitted are apple, cherry, or apricot. In Texas, we had a lot of Czech bakeries serve kolaches, which were more like the Russian rolls, but done with the thumbprint depression. Besides the wonderful fillings above, sweet cheese filling is also scrumptious. The best kolaches come from a wonderful bakery at the I35W intersection at West, Texas, just south of Waco. I could never pass that place without buying about 2 dozen poppyseed kolaches. Also, the best recipe I have at home is from the revised Tasajarra Bread Book.

  5. August 12, 2010 9:03 pm

    Susan, I totally know the Texas Czech bakery rest stop you’re talking about! I frequently made the drive between Austin and Dallas, and stopped almost every time to pick up kolaches there. The sweet cheese & cherry ones were my favorite. You’ll have to share your kolache recipe with me, and I promise to bring you some poppyseed pinwheels the next time I make them!

  6. Lynne permalink
    December 15, 2010 4:55 pm

    Do you know of a bread that is rolled out like pizza dough with butter and sour cream put in indentions in the dough then baked? What is it called?

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