The Mint Shop

The Mint Shop

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

German poppies

I would warmly recommend a weekend in Berlin if you have a bit of time in your hands. The city burst with life and changes. The last time I went it was a huge building site with a neat demarcation between West and East. Today cafes, art galleries, and bars are dotted everywhere. I walked and walked (and walked) all day long zig-zagging the main historical buildings and museums and stopping at the most attractive bakeries for a deserved rest.


East is probably the most charming area with its corners of forgotten history and sleepy buildings. The Ampelmann (literally "traffic light man") gives you the ok to cross the busy roads and grab your Berliner wurst or  the traditional but southern Pretzerl that appear at every corner lurking passers-by.


It is good that I have self control and discipline as otherwise I could have come back with 3 kilos more. German bread is undisputedly famous - the more seeds they have the more their rolls and loaves get covered with them giving a real countryside smell. I loved mine just come out of the oven and stuffed with salami and cheese.

Even though I was excited about the look of the varieties of breads, I was even more excited when I discovered the Berlin favourite - Mohnstrietzel.
This cake is made of two heavenly layers: quark and poppy seeds. Quark is a bit like cottage cheese bit slightly more sour - the name itself makes me smile a bit as it makes me think of a science programme we used to have in Italy when I was a child.

Poppy seeds have a distinctive taste, which I might recognize, not everyone likes - R. thinks they taste of mold....I assure you they don't! The only warning is to check your teeth in the mirror before going out again as they might stick in between them! You can find poppy seeds for baking practically in any supermarket or bakery - I've seen a few black dotted rolls in England too.

With a cup of coffee it is a real treat you won't resist!

300g flour
250g poppy seeds
100g melted butter
100g sugar
6 tsp baking powder
20g sugar
2 eggs
100g law fat quark (that you can replace with either firm yogurt or cottage cheese)
6 tbsp milk
25g ground almond

Mix poppy seeds, butter, 100g sugar, eggs, and ground almond in a bowl. Stir well until blended.

Separately mix the flour with the baking powder. Add the half of the quark, milk, 20g sugar and a pinch of salt. You can also add a few drops of vanilla essence if you wish. Work the ingredients into a dough for about a minute (but no longer as it will become sticky and chewy otherwise).

Roll out on a floured surface into a rectangle of 35x45 cm adding a bit more flour if the dough is too sticky. Spread the poppy seeds mixture and the rest of the quark. Roll up on the longer side and brush with a bit of milk; if you are using a narrower dish just leave it as it is and simply sprinkle the 20g sugar on top.

Place on a greased baking tray and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C for about 35 minutes.

We had a lazy afternoon walking along the river (I hadn't even realized Berlin had a river!) ending up in the Ku'Damm, the shopping district in the West side where we ended up in an oasis of calm, Cafe Kultur, which hosts a book shop, a gallery, and a lovely cafe/restaurant in conservatory.


  1. I admit that poppy seeds are a strange thing but mixed with cheese they probably taste good! You really made feel like going to Berlin...maybe I should go! Thanks!

  2. I know what you mean, and believe me, Germans do use them in abundance! But if well mixed with sugar and other ingredients they are a very interesting thing not to be missed!

    Do go to Berlin, it takes a couple of days to acclimatize but I'm sure you'll enjoy it - interesting city!

  3. Francesca, this sounds brilliant. I look forward to trying it. Would it work with ricotta do you think?

  4. Nice. Not too sure about the cake, but Berlin looks great in your pix! Funny how a stop sign has become the iconic image of East Berlin!! You know that there is even a shop selling Ampelmann on everything from t-shirts to oven-gloves!

  5. @Paula/Tim - it might work; ricotta is quite soft and should be a good replacement for quark; do try it and let me know!

    We did find the shop selling everything about Ampelmann, really nice! I prefer it in green somehow..

  6. Sounds great, but can you find these seeds in UK? I'd love to make it, but fear I will have to spend all afternoon shaking the seeds off poppy-seed rolls!

  7. Hello! Bakeries or even Sainsburys normally sell poppy seeds - hopefully you won't have to shake your rolls! :D That would be a bit far too tedious...not sure it would be worth it...;D Let me know if you do find them.