This sweet poppy seed bread is considered a staple in Slovenian bakeries and there are countless variations across Central Europe.






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (55 votes)

It's important to buy your poppy seeds from a vendor you know has high turnover because they're prone to rancidity and if not kept in cool conditions will become bitter. For best results, make sure the kitchen space and all the ingredients are warm when preparing the dough.


  • 3 egg yolks 
  • 310 ml (1¼ cups) lukewarm milk 
  • 130 g caster sugar 
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) oil 
  • 780 g plain flour 
  • 2 x 7 g sachets dried yeast 
  • 1 lemon, zested 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 

Poppy seed filling

  • 435 ml (1¾ cups) milk 
  • 80 g unsalted butter, chopped, at room temperature 
  • 55 g (¼ cup) caster sugar 
  • 480 g (3 cups) poppy seeds 
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam 
  • 3 eggs, separated 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 35 g (½ cup) stale or panko breadcrumbs (see Note)
  • 1 lemon, zested

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Standing time 2½ hours

Drink Maraska Å ljivovica, Croatia ($45, 700ml) 


To make filling, place milk, butter, sugar and poppy seeds in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until milk is almost absorbed. Cool, then stir in jam, egg yolks, vanilla, breadcrumbs and lemon zest.

Whisk egg whites to soft peaks, then fold through poppy seed mixture in 3 batches. Set aside for 30 minutes to thicken slightly. Whisk egg yolks until they start to thicken. Stir in 250 ml lukewarm milk, 55 g caster sugar, and oil, and set aside.

Combine 2 tbsp flour, yeast, remaining 60 ml milk and 1 tbsp sugar in a bowl until combined. Stand in a warm, draught-free place for 10 minutes or until the mixture bubbles.

Combine 700 g flour, lemon zest, remaining 55 g sugar, vanilla and 1 tsp salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix yeast and egg mixtures into the flour mixture on low speed until mixture forms a sticky dough. Mix in enough of the remaining 50g flour to form a soft dough. Increase speed to medium–high and knead dough for 6 minutes or until it’s smooth and elastic.

Place dough in a greased bowl and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour or until it doubles in size.

Turn out onto a floured work surface and shape into a log. Roll out to a 3 mm-thick, 62 cm x 45 cm rectangle. Spread over filling, leaving a 2 cm border. Roll up lengthwise like a Swiss roll. Cut into 2 logs. Place side by side so each log touches a long edge of a buttered 5 cm-deep, 21 cm x 31 cm slab pan. Cover with a tea towel. Stand in a warm, draught-free place for 50 minutes or until dough doubles in size.

Preheat oven to 160°C. Bake potica for 1 hour or until golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. It will keep wrapped in paper towel, in an airtight container, for up to 4 days.


• Panko breadcrumbs are available from selected supermarkets and Asian food shops.


As seen in Feast magazine, Issue 10, pg80.

Photography by Brett Stevens.