Cherry, Marzipan, and Poppy Seed Strucla

I made strucla, an Eastern European poppy seed roll, for my holiday bread this year.  I adapted this recipe from the one my Mom used to make which is found in The Vegetarian Epicurean.  My Mom would make the bread dough, with a little aid from her kitchen helpers (i.e. my brother, sister, and I), and then treat it like a stollen by adding the dried fruits into the dough and then wrapping it into a loaf.  I went with the more traditional method for making the bread, which involved making a poppyseed filling for the bread.  I added dried cherries and marzipan into my filling as a special Holiday surprise, along with some citrus zest and a shot of cognac in my bread dough.  I decorated my bread in a lemon glaze topped with candied cherries, almond slivers, and golden sugar sprinkles.

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This recipe makes 6 loaves of strucla, and requires half an hour of intense kneading.   Recruiting a few extra sets of hands it advised. 

Filling – make a day ahead

  • 1 cup Poppy Seeds (you can buy these in the bulk section of most health food stores)
  • 5 oz died Cherries
  • boiling Water
  • 7 oz Marzipan
  • 1 tbsp Almond Extract
  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • dash of Salt
  1. Put your water on to boil.
  2. Place your poppy seeds and cherries in a bowl together, and pour the boiling water over them.
  3. Allow the poppy seeds and cherries to soak for an hour.
  4. Carefully drain the water from the cherries and poppy seeds.
  5. Place the cherries and poppy seeds in a food processor, and blend them together.
  6. Add in the marzipan, almond extract, honey, and salt.
  7. Continue to blend until the marzipan has fully been incorporated.
  8. Place the filling in the refrigerator overnight to set.

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Bread

  • 9 tsp Yeast
  • 2 cups warm Milk
  • 9 1/2 – 10 cups Flour
  • 6 Eggs
  • 3 Egg Yokes
  • 1 1/2 cups Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Lemon Extract
  • 2 tbsp Cognac
  • Zest from 1 Orange and 1 Lemon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted Butter
  • Egg Wash (1 egg + 1 tbsp water)
  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk, and then stir in 3 cups of flour.
  2. Set the sponge aside, and in another bowl beat together the eggs, yokes, sugar, salt, vanilla, lemon extract, cognac, and zest until frothy.
  3. Once the yeast has foamed up slightly, stir in the egg mixture and another cup of flour.
  4. Stir in the melted butter.
  5. Add in 4 more cups of flour 1/2 a cup at a time. The dough will be sticky and stiff.
  6. Place the dough in the stand mixer with the dough hook attached or stretch by hand.
  7. Knead for 15 minutes while gradually adding a little bit of flour when the dough gets too sticky.
  8. Continue to knead by hand for another 15 minutes until the dough begins to blister under your palms.  You should be able to feel the air bubbles in the surface of the dough.
  9. Place your dough in a large greased container to rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
  10. Punch the dough down, and divide it into 6 pieces.
  11. Knead each piece into a ball.
  12. Roll out the ball into an oval about 1/2″ thick.
  13. Spread a couple spoonfuls of the filling across the oval leaving 1″ border between the filling and the edges of the oval.
  14. Lift one end of the oval, and begin rolling the loaf.  Lift and twist as you go to keep the filling from sliding out.
  15. Pinch the ends together.
  16. Set finished loaf, seem side down and ends tucked under, onto a parchment lined or greased baking sheet.  Two loaves can fit onto each sheet.
  17. Let the loaves rise until doubled, another couple of hours.
  18. Preheat the oven to 375 F (~190 C).
  19. You should bake the loaves 1 baking sheet at a time, brushing each pair of loaves with an egg wash before placing them in the oven.
  20. Bake the loaves for 30-35 minutes.
  21. Allow the loaves to cool fully before icing and decorating.  I decorated my loaves with a lemon and powdered sugar glaze (~1 cup powdered + the juice of 1 lemon.  Adding more juice or sugar, if needed, until you have obtained the right consistency.), halved maraschino cherries (I brushed the liquid off of them with a paper towel before arranging them on the glazed loaf), slivered almonds, and gold sugar sprinkles.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. chefkreso says:

    Looks very festive and delicious, nice one!

    Liked by 1 person

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