Lithuanian Poppy Seed Roll Recipe

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Pyragas Su Aguonomis: Lithuanian Easter Dessert

Lithuanian Poppy Seed Roll

Lithuanian Poppy Seed Roll

This heavenly Lithuanian dessert gets its luscious flavor from poppy seeds and honey. Rolled with strudel-like layers of pastry dough and spiked with raisins, this poppy seed roll is so moist and unusual that you may crave an extra slice.

It overflows with exquisite poppy seeds, so grab a fork to enjoy every sticky morsel.

Lithuanian poppy seed rolls are popular Easter desserts, but can be served for any occasion. If you fancy sweet breakfast pastries, this may be your new favorite — especially with a cup of hot coffee or tea.

From the Kitchen of Christiana Noyalas (Naujalis)

Dough

Stretching The Dough

Stretching The Dough

  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 ⅓ sticks butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup water
  • ⅛ tsp salt

Filling

  • 2 ¾ cups poppy seeds
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup honey, heated to a thin consistency

Basting

  • 2 TBS melted butter

Preheat oven to 325°.

This Poppy Seed Roll Is Ready To Bake

This Poppy Seed Roll Is Ready To Bake

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle it with the salt and then form a well in the center of the flour. Pour in the melted butter and water. Mix the ingredients by hand into a smooth pastry dough.

Cover a table with a clean, lint-free table cloth. Work the dough with your hands as you would to stretch strudel or pizza dough in the air. Place the stretched dough on the cloth and continue stretching it by pulling it with your hands from the center and from the edges. Continue stretching the dough until it is very thin and translucent.

Spread the poppy seeds evenly over the dough to within an inch of the edge. Top the poppy seeds with the raisins and then sprinkle with sugar. Top with drizzled honey.

Lift one end of the table cloth so that the dough can be rolled. Carefully continue lifting and rolling until the dough is completely rolled into the shape of a log. Place the poppy seed roll on a well greased baking pan. Bake for 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven. Baste with half of the melted butter. Bake for 15 more minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and baste with the remaining butter.

Allow to cool. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to four days. Slice and serve.

Užgavėnės

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Lithuania’s Mardi Gras

Užgavėnės Costume

Photo by: Andrius Petrucenia of Flickr

Known around the world by many names including Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Fastnacht, and Carnival, Užgavėnės is one of the most jubilant Lithuanian holiday celebrations. Seven weeks before Easter and the day before Ash Wednesday, Užgavėnės marks the end of winter and the beginning of Lent. Lithuania’s unique version of Mardi Gras, it is a day filled with food, dance, and merriment.

This holiday is known for its pancakes served with an abundance of toppings. These pancakes are similar to breakfast pancakes made with flour and buttermilk, but are heavier and crispier since they are fried in hot oil or lard. Toppings include sour cream, fruit sauces and syrups, and caviar among others. Lithuanians feast on pancakes throughout the day as a last hurrah before the long Lenten fast.

While festivities vary by region, three characters appear traditionally throughout Lithuania‘s Užgavėnės. The first character is the buxom female effigy of winter. Known as Morė or Boba, she is made of straw and typically decorated with garish rouged lips and cheeks. She is paraded through town and then burned at the stake to symbolize the death of winter and the birth of spring.

Užgavėnės Morė

Užgavėnės Morė

The second character is the rotund Lašininis, whose name translates as “porker” or “fatso.” Lašininis is the male effigy of winter. Conversely, slim-figured Kanapinis (whose name translates as “of hemp” or “hemper”) is the male personification of spring. The two characters battle wildly, but Kanapinis always prevails.

Užgavėnės participants dance and frolic in a variety of costumes; mostly either light-hearted and cheerful or dark and frightening. Some celebrate by marching in parades while others dance at village parties. Merrymaking continues late into the night until the first rooster crows for the dawn of Lent.

Note: To learn more regarding historical observances and Užgavėnės rituals by region, see Vilnius University’s Anthology of Lithuanian Ethnoculture.

Watch an Užgavėnės celebration from 2009 at the Open-Air Museum of Lithuania in Rumšiškės, just outside of Kaunas.