Pascale’s Kitchen: Perfect post-Purim poppyseed pastries

Below you will find three recipes for sweet baked items that are perfect for using up the little bit of poppy seeds you have leftover.

 Poppyseed cake (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Poppyseed cake
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Purim may already be over by the time you read this but while we’re still in the festive mood, I’d like to introduce you to a few recipes that call for poppy seeds. You may have some leftover from making hamantashen – probably enough to make one of the following treats. 

Poppy seeds do not have a very long shelf life, so it’s best to use up what you have leftover before they go bad and turn bitter. They are the type of food that if on the first time you tasted it you liked it, then you probably have a positive memory of eating it stored in your brain. If, and this is a big if, the first time you tasted poppy seeds the taste was very bitter, you’ve probably avoided eating anything with poppy seeds ever since. 

For more of Pascale's recipes, click here>>

To that end, below you will find three recipes for sweet baked items that are perfect for using up the little bit of poppy seeds you have leftover. The first recipe is for challah, which is traditionally eaten on Purim in two specific forms. The first is Keylitsh, which is an elaborately braided challah hailing from Eastern European cuisine, which is traditionally served on festivals and at weddings. It is made from a large number of strands, which symbolize the ropes from which Haman and his sons were hanged.

The second is Boyoja Ungola Di-Purim, challah packed with almonds and raisins that hails from Moroccan cuisine. Some people make one large challah, or lots of small ones, each with an egg in its shell baked in the center, held down with two thin strips of dough arranged in the shape of an X. The eggs are meant to symbolize Haman’s eyes. These challot are often included in mishloach manot. 

 Poppyseed challah (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Poppyseed challah (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Some people like to prepare little dolls from the dough to represent Haman’s sons. Others prepare rolls in the shape of ladders or birds, which symbolize the miracle of making aliyah. The challah recipe I’ve included below is for a special Purim crown, with poppy seeds covering the bottom. It’s made from lots of small balls, so each person can tear off their own individual challah. 

The second recipe is for poppy seed crescent-shaped cookies made from a sweet dough and a rich poppy seed filling. The third recipe is for an easy-to-make poppy seed cake that is moist and quite tasty. 

I hope you enjoy making one or more of these fun after-Purim poppy seed treats. 

Poppyseed cake

Use a round pan with a 20 cm. or 22 cm. diameter.

  • ¾ cup flour, sifted
  • 1 packet baking powder
  • ½ cup ground poppy seeds
  • ¼ cup coconut flakes
  • ¼ cup finely ground almonds
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 packet vanilla sugar
  • Juice from 1½ oranges (approx. ¾ cup)
  • 1 tsp. orange liqueur or brandy

Additions to dough:

  • ½ cup chocolate chips, bittersweet chocolate shavings, candied fruits, walnuts or raisins


  • ½ cup sugar
  • 5 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 3-4 Tbsp. water or milk
  • 1 tsp. brandy or vanilla extract
  • 50 gr. butter or margarine


  • ½ cup chopped almonds or pecans

Mix the flour together with the baking powder, poppy seeds, coconut and almonds in a medium bowl. 

In a separate bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients together and gradually add the dry mixture. Mix well. Grease a pan and pour the batter into it. Flatten the batter.

Bake in an oven that has been preheated to medium heat for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out dry and clean. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool down.

To prepare the icing, add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder and water to a medium pot. Heat over a low flame and mix until smooth.

Add the butter or margarine and mix until smooth. Pour the icing while it’s still hot over the cake and then sprinkle the nuts on top. 

Level of difficulty: Easy-medium.Time: 1 hour.Status: Dairy or pareve.

Poppyseed challah 

Makes 1 medium round challah.

  • ½ kg. flour, sifted
  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 25 gr. margarine or 2 Tbsp. oil
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. dry yeast
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1-1½ cups water

Egg wash:

  • 1 egg, beaten, or 1 egg yolk diluted with 2 Tbsp. water


  • ½-¾ cup poppy seeds

Add the flour to the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Form a well in the center and pour in the oil, egg, margarine and salt. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar all around on top of the ingredients.

Mix on medium speed and gradually add the water, while slowly increasing the speed. Stop mixing when the dough becomes rubbery and falls away from the side of the bowl. 

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm spot for 90 minutes or until it doubles in volume. 

Form 8 balls weighing 60 gr. each. Put them aside to rise again. 

From the remaining dough, form 1 ball weighing 80 gr., then roll it into a long, thin log. Cut the log into 2 parts. 

Roll out the remaining dough on a sheet of baking paper into a circle with a diameter of 22 cm. or 24 cm. Brush with the beaten egg or with the egg yolk diluted with water. Sprinkle a generous amount of poppy seeds on top. Use the rolling pin to gently push the seeds into the dough, then flip the circle over so the poppyseed side is facing down. 

Make four cuts into the center of the circle of dough, forming a star shape. The cuts should not reach all the way to the edge of the circle, leaving a 1.5 cm. margin around the edge. 

Arrange the eight balls on top of the circle, around the edge, with each ball sitting on one of the triangles that were created by making the cuts. 

Lift up each triangle from the corner that sits in the center of the circle, and pull it over the ball, and gently press down to attach it to the ball. You will now see the poppy seeds that were on the bottom of the circle. 

Take the two strips of dough and get them a little wet, then roll them in poppy seeds. Wrap them around each other to create a twist, then arrange it around the edge of the circle. Let the dough rise for another 20 minutes. 

Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180° for 25-30 minutes until the crust turns golden brown. 

Remove and let cool on a wire rack. 

Level of difficulty: Medium-difficult.Time: 2.5 hours.Status: Pareve.

 Poppyseed cookies (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Poppyseed cookies (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Poppyseed cookies

Makes 10 cookies.

Poppyseed filling:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 200 ml. 3% milk or orange juice
  • 55 gr. butter or margarine
  • Pinch of lemon zest
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract or rum
  • 2 cups ground poppy seeds
  • 80 gr. ground walnuts


  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 5 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 packet vanilla sugar
  • 40 ml. milk, orange juice or water
  • 120 gr. butter or margarine
  • 1 Tbsp. dry yeast
  • Pinch of salt
  • Egg wash:
  • 1 egg, beaten


  • ½ cup whole poppy seeds

Sugar coating:

  • 3 Tbsp. syrup (made using ratio of 1 Tbsp. water to 1 Tbsp. sugar) 

Place the sugar, milk, butter, lemon zest and cinnamon in a pot. Bring to a boil, stirring every once in a while. Remove from the burner and add the poppy seeds. Stir and heat over a low flame for one more minute. Turn off the flame and add the walnuts. Mix and let the mixture cool a little. Transfer to a pastry bag without a tip. 

Add all of the dough ingredients – except the salt – to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix for 2 minutes. Add the salt and mix for another 5 minutes. 

Separate the dough into balls that weigh 60 gr. each. Set the balls on a baking tray, cover them and place in the fridge for 15 minutes. 

Form an oval from each ball that is 12 cm. long and 9 cm. wide. 

Spread the filling along the center of each oval lengthwise. Spread the beaten egg on the end of the dough closest to you, then fold the end in on top of the filling and roll the dough up into a log shape. Place the dough log on a tray covered with baking paper, with the seam facing down. Fold the ends toward each other and press them together to form a crescent shape. Do the same for the rest of the dough balls. 

Brush each crescent with egg wash and let them rise for another 20 minutes at room temperature. 

Brush with more egg wash, then sprinkle with poppy seeds and let them sit at room temperature for another 20 minutes. 

Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 170° for 15 minutes. Take the cookies out of the oven, and brush syrup on them while they’re still hot. Let them cool completely.

Level of difficulty: Medium.Time: 90 minutes.Status: Dairy or pareve.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.