Poppy seed pie – Mákos béles

by | Nov 25, 2022 | Desserts

If you want a poppy seed dessert for Christmas, but you don’t have time and energy to make beigli, poppy seed pie (mákos béles) is for you. The most time-consuming part of the recipe is letting the filling cool completely. The pie consists of two cake layers, which are sandwiched with apricot jam and a creamy poppy seed and apple filling. The recipe derives from a cookbook written by Ilona Horváth, that can be found in almost every Hungarian household and has helped generations learn how to cook.

Poppy seed pie - Mákos béles
Poppy seed pie – Mákos béles – photo: zserbo.com


For the filling:

  • 250 g (~8 3/4 oz) ground poppy seeds
  • 150 g (~1 cup + 2 tbsp) powdered sugar
  • 50 g (~1/4 cup + 1/2 tbsp) semolina
  • 300 ml (~1 1/4 cups) milk
  • 100 g (~2/3 cup) raisins
  • zest of a half lemon
  • 2 big apples
  • 2 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 6-7 tbsp apricot jam

For the dough:

  • 400 g (~3 1/4 cups) flour
  • 50 g (~1/4 cup) sugar
  • 8 g (~2 tsp) baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 200 g (~3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) butter
  • 150 g (~1/3 lb) sour cream

For the egg wash:

  • 2 egg yolks

First make the filling. In a bowl combine ground poppy seeds, powdered sugar and semolina. In a saucepan bring milk to a boil, add poppy seeds and cook, while stirring constantly, for a minute until the mixture thinkens a bit. Set aside and let it cool completely.

Soak raisins in lukewarm water.

Once the filling is cool, peel, core and grate the apples on the large hole-side of a box grater, and stir in the filling, along with drained raisins and lemon zest. Separate the eggs. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff, and gently fold into the poppy seed mixture.

Grease a 30×30 cm / 12×12 inch baking pan. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 356°F.

For the dough combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar, then add butter and sour cream, and quickly knead into a smooth dough. Cut in half and roll out the first piece of dough into a thin rectangle. Transfer the dough into the prepared baking pan, pressing into corners and sides. Coat the dough with apricot jam, then spread the poppy seed filling evenly on the jam layer. Roll out the other piece of dough and cover the cake. Brush the top with beaten egg yolk and prick with a fork. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.

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Hungarian cottage cheese

This is what Hungarian túró looks like

You often ask me what kind of cottage cheese (or curd cheese or farmer's cheese - call it what you want) I use in the recipes. In Hungary the store-bought cottage cheese is dry and crumbly as you can see in the picture. So if a recipe calls for túró, I mean this type. If you can't obtain túró, you can try to make your own from whole milk. Click on the link below.

Metric system vs cup

In Hungary metric units are in use, all the recipes on this website are based on this system, so a kitchen scale is necessary. Since I’m not familiar with cup as a measurement unit, I convert grams to cups by using an online converter. The values in brackets, therefore, are only approximate volumes, so, please, double-check them before you start cooking.

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