MJL Dessert Recipe Contest Winner: Poppy Seed Cake

Over at the Jewish Food facebook page we recently ran a dessert recipe contest, and we’re pleased to announce the winner and the runners-up.

Our first place winner is Ilya Spektor of Grafton, WI. Ilya won for his recipe for Poppy Seed Cake, and we’re pleased to send him a copy of “Simply Southern With a Dash of Kosher Soul.”

Here’s the recipe:

Chef Ilya’s Poppy Seed Cake Roll

Enjoy this classic Eastern European cake with a tall glass of milk, tea, coffee or even a nice sweet wine. Poppy Seed Cakes are commonly found during the Holidays on Eastern European and Jewish dessert tables.



–    3-4 cups flour
–    2 &1/2 cups luke warm water at approximately 110 degrees
–    1 packet of dry yeast,
–    1 tbsp vegetable oil,
–    1/2 tsp salt
–     1 tsp sugar.

(Or purchase pizza or baguette dough.)


–    1/2 cup corn syrup
–    8oz/16oz bag of dry Poppy Seed (depending on preference).
–    1/2 cup sugar
–    1tsp vegetable oil
–    1/2 tsp salt

(Or purchase Poppy Seed Filling found in specialty grocery stores.)

Egg Wash:

–    1 egg yolk
–    1 tsp sugar


Dough –

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl add the packet of yeast, water, salt, and oil. Then mix the flour in slowly by first adding 2 cups and then slowly adding the remaining flour until the dough becomes as thick as pizza dough.

Place the dough in a warm place for a few hours to let it rise and then dust a surface with flour and kneed the dough until it is firm and not sticky. Roll it out gently to about 1/8 thick and work side to side so that it is a rectangle shape.

Poppy Seed Filling –

In a large bowl, mix the poppy seeds with the corn syrup, oil, sugar, and salt.  Spread the mixture on the dough surface to about half the height of the dough to prevent the filling from spilling out.

Roll the dough into a log and place on a baking sheet. Cut five slits down the cake on an angle. Make the egg wash by mixing the egg yolk and 1 tsp sugar and baste the top and sides of the cake.

Bake cake for 25- 40 minutes. Cut into 5 to 10 slices and serve warm or cold.

About Chef Ilya:

Chef Ilya was born in Russia with Jewish roots and immigrated to Milwaukee, WI when he was five years old. Baking and cooking is in his blood and beyond a passion he believes that it is his calling. In his spare time, Chef Ilya owns and runs a mobile international cuisine catering company, specializing in ethnic international cuisine.

Chef Ilya’s culinary specialties include baked goods such as breads, cakes, cookies, and pastries as well as old world smoked meats, fish and jerky. He believes that life should always be about sitting down with good food, drinks, friends and family.

Congratulations to Chef Ilya, and to the runners up:
Gittel’s Pastry Shofars by Gail M Seigel
Bubbie’s Russian Tea Cakes with Cacao Nibs by Tamar Plotkin Genger
Avocado Chocolate Cake by Will Wurth

The three runners up will receive copies of Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis.

Mazal tov to all, and happy eating!

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