Lithuanian Poppy Seed Roll Recipe


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)


Stretching The Dough

Stretching The Dough

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


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


  • 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.



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.

Kisielius (Cranberry Pudding)


Cranberry Pudding (Kisielius) Dessert

Fresh Cranberries With Cinnamon and Cloves

Fresh Cranberries With
Cinnamon and Cloves

If you haven’t tried kisielius, you are in for a pleasant surprise. You may be expecting just another variation of the fruity homemade cranberry sauces served with turkey and ham for holidays, but this is not that kind of dish. Instead, you’ll discover a complex cranberry pudding intensified with the infusion of cinnamon sticks and whole cloves.

You could serve kisielius as an accompaniment, but after one or two spoons of this luscious cranberry pudding you will understand why Lithuanians reserve kisielius for their dessert tables at Christmas celebrations and other special occasions.

From the Kitchen of Christiana Noyalas (Naujalis)

Straining Cranberries For Kisielius

Straining Cranberries For Kisielius

  • 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries (3 cups)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons potato flour*
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Place the cranberries in a saucepan and cover them with three cups of cold water. Add the cinnamon and cloves and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes allowing the cranberries to split and the flavors to blend. Remove from heat. Remove and discard the cinnamon and cloves.

Force the mixture through a food mill or sieve. Discard the cranberry skins. Reserve one cup of cranberry juice and chill it in the refrigerator.

Lithuanian Kisielius (Cranberry Pudding)

Lithuanian Kisielius (Cranberry Pudding)

Return the remaining juice and pulp to the saucepan. Add the sugar to the saucepan.

Stir the potato flour into the chilled cranberry juice until it is completely dissolved. Add it to the cranberry mixture and bring the pudding to a boil stirring constantly. When the pudding is translucent, remove it from the heat.

Stir in the vanilla. Pour the pudding into individual serving bowls and chill until set.

Kisielius is delicious served alone or paired with rice pudding or vanilla ice cream.

*For a thicker pudding consistency, double the amount of potato flour. Two tablespoons sets the pudding to the consistency of fruit pie glaze. Doubling the potato starch sets it to the consistency of gelatin.