Mohnstriezel {Poppy Seed Christmas Cake}


If there is one thing in this city that you cannot ignore during Christmas season, it is stollen. Dresden is very famous for its traditional Christstollen, a very heavy sweet Christmas cake that is sold in every bakery and on every Christmas market. It’s shipped all over the country to friends and relatives and I am pretty sure you can order it from abroad, too. In addition to the traditional stollen, which is made with lots of butter, dried fruits and candied peel, there are many other versions. Nuts and marzipan are popular and bakers are trying out new ingredients every year. This season, for example, cranberry stollen are very popular. Because I love poppy seeds, my favourite is still poppy seed stollen which is closely related to similar Czech and Polish (Makowiec) baked goods.

Stollen is usually baked in advance and stored for weeks before it is finally eaten. Therefore it is made from a heavily enriched yeast dough with a very high fat content. The fats of choice are butter and sometimes lard. The fat and the dried fruits help to keep the cake fresh and moist. Poppy seed or marzipan fillings serve the same purpose.

In Dresden stollen is often called striezel but any sweet yeasted bread or cake that is shaped like a log or braided can be called striezel in German. My recipe is more a striezel in that general term than a stollen. It is much lighter and fluffier and can’t be stored that long because it has a lot less fat.  (A couple of days wrapped in aluminium foil are fine, but it won’t keep for weeks like a stollen.)

Mohnstriezel (makes one loaf)
filling adapted from this recipe

400 g (3 1/4 cup) flour
80 g (1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup plus 1 teaspoon) sugar
200 ml (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) soy milk
20 g  fresh yeast (or 1 teaspoon instant yeast)
1/2 teaspoon salt
60 ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
1/8 teaspoon ground vanilla

250 ml (1 cup plus 2 teaspoons) soy milk
180 g (1 1/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon) poppy seeds, ground
25 g (2 tablespoons) semolina
50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground vanilla
1 tablespoon rum (optional)
2 teaspoons lime or lemon juice


100 g (1 cup, sifted) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
75 g (2/3 cup) slivered almonds

To make the dough: Combine flour, sugar, soy milk, and crumbled yeast in a bowl. Let sit for ten minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Use a had held or stand mixer to knead the dough until smooth (4-6 minutes). Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let sit in a warm place for 60-90 minutes, until the dough has doubled in size.

Meanwhile prepare the filling. If you haven’t already, grind the poppy seeds in a coffee grinder. In a small pot bring the milk to a boil. Stir in poppy seeds, semolina, sugar, and vanilla. Remove from heat, cover with lid and let sit until the mixture has cooled to room temperature. Stir in rum and lime juice.

Roll the dough into a rectangle. (40 x 30 cm or 15.8  x 11.8 inch) Spread the filling on top, leaving a 1 cm (1/2 inch) margin around the edges. Roll the dough up from both sides:


Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a damp kitchen towel and let sit in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Bake the striezel for 25-30 minutes. The top of mine started to brown pretty quickly so make sure to look after it. If it browns too fast, cover with a sheet of aluminium foil.

Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Combine powdered sugar and lime juice. Whisk until smooth and sprinkle over the cake. Sprinkle the almonds over the glaze. Let the glaze dry serve. Store at room temperature or in the fridge, wrapped in aluminium.


29 thoughts on “Mohnstriezel {Poppy Seed Christmas Cake}

  1. I made it! I used the same amount of yeast, I used 1 cup wholemeal spelt, a third cup wholemeal rye and the rest plain white flour and a little strong white flour and fermented it overnight in the fridge, I left it a couple of hours to warm up the next day before kneading for 15mins and shaping. and resting I baked it for 35mins. I found the centre curled bits in the middle of the loaf a little under done, Maybe the edges were too thick? or the poppy filling too thick? Or was it my mix of flours? Either way it was delicious! Thanks again for the recipe and tips

    1. Thank you for making this! I am glad it still turned out delecious.

      To answer your question, wholemeal spelt, wholemeal rye, and strong flour are not the best choices when you want a fluffy cake like consistency. Rye and spelt can be tricky to bake with. The gluten those flours contain is much weaker than that of wheat flour. This often makes the baked good dense, rye being the main offender here. Whole flours also make baked goods denser than regular flours. So, like you said, I think the mix of flours was the culprit.

  2. Thanks for this beautiful stollen recipe. It looks gorgeous but sounds like it is fairly easy to make. I love poppy seeds too, so I am sold on this one.

    1. Hi! I have made your lovely stollen recipe the last two chritsmas (have to make my own marzipan though as it is impossible to get a good one here in Ireland). I was just wondering could I prove this dough overnight like the other stollen? Thank you and thanks for all your recipes!!! A

      1. How wonderful. I am glad you like it so much.

        To answer your question: Yes that should work but I would probably half the yeast in that case.

  3. Beautiful and magical as always! I have a ton of poppy seeds I must use up before they expire (I’m on this new kick of using food before the expiry), so this looks like my #1 choice! My family never has stollen (or stollen-like treats) at Christmas. I think I’m going to change that!

  4. Every time you post something with poppy seeds in it, I end up making another note to buy bulk poppy seeds & get to baking. This cake sounds terrific. Happy Holidays, Mihl!

  5. Gruss aus Nova Scotia, Canada. Poppy seeds remain a vivid German Christmas childhood memory for me. This recipe looks great. So nice to find vegan versions of baked goods that I used to love. Thank you for posting, and Frohe Weihnachten to you and your readers. Stephen L. in Halifax.

  6. I was in Slovakia doing a nutrition presentation and they made us a special poppyseed noodle dish covered in ground poppyseeds mixed with a little sugar. wow, so good! I can’t wait to make this

  7. I just tried last night. Turns out perfectly delicious. It is not that heavy compared to the other stollen-ish breads/cakes I had. The poppy seed filling is wonderful, not super sweet, with a nice texture!
    Thank you so much.

  8. Oooh! My Mum’s family are Hungarian and make a similar cake at Christmas time called Beigli, although it is rolled like a swiss roll, and has either a poppy seed or walnut filling. The poppy seed is my favourite. I am definitely going to try this! Thank you xx

  9. ich liebe mohn und ich hasse stollen ;-)
    boah, mihl – der striezel sieht zum anbeißen aus!
    den muß ich ganz dringend ganz bald nachbacken :-D
    liebe grüße!

  10. This is so pretty! I’ve never used poppy seeds in baking before but the idea really appeals.
    The bread itself looks like it has the perfect texture too.

  11. This looks *amazing* and hits all my poppy seed spots at the moment :D I’ve tried looking up Semolina and what it does, since it hasn’t caught my eye in any of the shops near me – it’s some sort of flour? If I can’t find it, can I replace with with more flour, or does it serve a specific function in this delicious cake?

    1. It is a course wheat meal, similar in texture to polenta. It’s used for thickening and to give structure. I think polenta (corn meal) would be a better substitute than flour. Or breadcrumbs.

  12. Love that you chose oil over margarine for this Stollen ! It looks fantastic, I’ll try to follow your recipe for Xmas.
    Are poppy seeds Stollen typical from Dresden ? I have seen many Stollen here in South Germany, but never with poppy seeds !

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