Home » Poppy Seed Crumble Cake – German Mohnkuchen

Poppy Seed Crumble Cake – German Mohnkuchen

German Poppy Seed Crumble Cake

This poppy seed cake might look a little weird with the black color but believe me, once you had a bite of it you will be all in for more!

Poppy Seed Crumble Cake Video

Poppy Seeds

Poppy seeds (latin: Papaver somniferum) come from the same flower that makes opium but don’t worry, you won’t get high from these seeds. It’s being tested thoroughly for any traces of opium. This said I must confess that this cake is highly addictive and you want to bake it again and again … but only because of the amazing taste!
However, if you have a drug test coming up soon (like for a new job opportunity), I would wait to eat this cake until after – just to be on the safe side!

Poppy Seed Cake

Poppy flowers are mostly grown in the Middle East and Greek but also in some parts of Germany. I’ve read that the best poppyseeds come from Australia.

In ancient Greece, cakes made from poppy seeds and honey were some sort of body builder food. This made me wonder what the health benefits of these seeds might be and look at that:

  • 40% to 50% of a poppyseed is made of oils, especially the healthy Omega 6 and Omega 3 oils are present!
  • 20% of the seed is protein
  • high levels of Calcium, Zink, Potassium, Iron, Vitamin B1, and E
  • also two essential amino acids are present

That’s a lot of good stuff in there and gives me a really good feeling about eating this cake.

German Poppy Seed Cake from the Bakery

According to some literature, a cake with a poppy seed filling should contain 60% of poppy seeds in the filling while a cake (like a sponge cake) with poppy seeds in the dough should contain 12%. It is not a law though, just probably the best ratio to make the most of the taste.

You can find a poppy seed cake in all German bakeries, it is some sort of “must have” inventory and if they don’t have it, then it’s probably because they ran out of it.

Often the poppy seed cakes from the bakeries are very, very sweet. That is nice for the first two to three bites but after that, I often feel overwhelmed from so much sugar. That is why I prefer to bake it myself and use the amount of sugar that suits me. Sugar should always be an ingredient instead of a filler!

Poppy seed crumble cake

The Filling

This poppy seed filling is easy to make, it’s not much more than making a baby puree. But the poppy seeds need to be ground before you use them. I wish one could buy them ground but after grinding poppy seeds, they become rancid very fast. For that reason, Germany sells the complete poppy seed fillings where they are already processed and mixed, ready to use. Here, I must grind the seeds in a coffee grinder and add them to the other ingredients of the filling.

You can add things like raisins, rum, chopped almonds, dried fruits … to the filling, to make things even more interesting. I like some rum-soaked or water-soaked raisins in the filling. In general, a bit of rum or rum extract is a good idea, too.

Can I Freeze Poppy Seed Cake?

Yes, this cake is great for the freezer! I cut it into rectangles and then put these into a large glass container and freeze it. If I want a slice (or more), I take it out of the container and put it into the microwave for 30 seconds and the cake is like freshly baked. One can of cause also just let it thaw at room temperature.

German crumble cake with poppy seed filling

How Much Cake Do I Need?

This is the kind of cake where everyone would love to have a second slice but simply can’t because they are full. Poppy Seed Crumble Cake is so filling, some even struggle to finish the first slice. But some people might surprise you, so maybe plan 1 and 1/2 slices per person and if you have a leftover, just freeze it and enjoy later.

Coffee and Cake

Having coffee and a slice of cake is a tradition in Germany, especially on the weekend and when you have someone visiting. It is usually happening around 3 pm that we brew some coffee and set the table with cake and cookies. We sit down for that and have a nice chat (undistracted from TV, devices or other things!). It is a sort of quality time and somewhat holy to us. I honestly miss this. The most fun is when we have poppy seed crumble cake and at the end of the afternoon, everyone has poppy seeds between their teeth and looks like having lots of cavities. I wouldn’t recommend having that cake at work though … or at least have a toothbrush with you for after the cake.

Ingredients you can make yourself

Pin this cake to Pinterest

German Poppy Seed Cake with crumbles
German Poppy Seed Crumble Cake

Poppy Seed Crumble Cake

Crumble Cake with a delicious, sweet poppy seed filling
5 from 4 votes
Servings 12 slices



For the dough and crumbles

For the filling

  • 500 ml milk
  • 100 g sugar (and more to add later)
  • 125 g butter
  • 200 g marzipan
  • 500 g poppy seeds
  • 75 g grits
  • 5 g salt
  • optional some raisins, rum extract / rum


The dough and crumbles

  • Mix the butter and the sugar.
  • Add the egg and vanilla sugar and mix again.
  • Now add the flour and mix until you have a well mixed dough.
  • Dived the dough into halves: Set one half aside and use the other half to cover the bottom of a baking pan or baking frame.

Prepare the filling

  • In a pot, heat the milk with the butter until it starts boiling.
  • Add the sugar and the grits and let simmer for several minutes.
  • Pour the warm mixture into a mixing bowl and add the marzipan.
  • Mix at low speed until the marzipan is incorporated.
  • In a coffee mill grind the poppy seeds in small portions and add them to the mixture.
  • Check if the filling is too firm. If it is too dense (it will lose more moisture during baking), add a little water.
  • Optional: Add raisins, rum extract or rum, maybe chopped almonds …
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C.
  • Pour the filling into the baking pan on top of the dough.
  • Now use the remaining dough that you have set aside earlier and make crumbles to top the filling.
  • Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the crumbles turn slightly golden.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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19 thoughts on “Poppy Seed Crumble Cake – German Mohnkuchen”

  1. Margarita Hueniken

    Thank you for responding and clarifying, Barbara!
    I finally returned to this page with long-standing intent to bake a large pan of ‘Mohnkuchen’ for Christmas.
    Wishing you and all who read this… the very best of the holiday season and beyond! :-)

  2. Margarita Hueniken

    Your German Poppyseed cake/squares call for GRITS. On the internet, there is debate about what this means, due to cultural/national differences in what the term refers to.

    (Regarding another’s query about grits, would almond or coconut flour be a suitable replacement for grits, especially for those who want to avoid corn or reduce carbs in this recipe?)

    Thank you for clarifying!
    (from Toronto, Canada)

    1. Hi Margarita,
      so, what we call Gries in Germany is actually semolina or semolina flour here in the US but I used American grits because it is difficult to get semolina (flour) here and grits work fine. I think you won’t be able to do this with almond or coconut flour and have the same result. Neither of these flours is thickening the mass if I am not mistaken. But maybe some people want to try anyway.

  3. 5 stars
    I made this today, along with the Marzipan for the recipe. I agree, it’s a delicious cake!

    I had my cake in a convection oven for 40 minutes, at a temperature of 350°F, verified by a separate thermometer. Are you sure about the time and/or temperature specified in the recipe? My cake seems to be extra well done, and probably should have come out at 30 or 35 minutes.

    I do agree with your comments in the video about a toothbrush after eating the cake. The poppy seeds get into every nick and cranny, and they look like cavities. Brushing the teeth does wonders to clean them up.

      1. I used a quarter size cookie sheet, which seemed a bit small, and was short on the edges. On future batches, I will size the recipe down to 6 servings from 12 servings, and use a 9″ square pan.

        While the cake looked extra well done, it didn’t taste burnt! The cake received accolades from my brother’s family, sister’s family and from my parents! They all loved the cake, as did I.

  4. Haven’t made the it yet, so can’t give stars. But you can buy poppy seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds mustard seeds and all kinds of seeds in useful amounts at Natural Grocers.

    1. The recipe sounds like what i remember german poppyseed tasted like from a bakery in Westhill, Ont Canada. What are the dimensions of the pan you are using, I can not guess from the video.

  5. I am going to use the canned poppy seed mix.
    How many cans should I use and do I need to add another filling ingredients to it?

    1. I don’t know, I’ve never had poppyseeds from a can and never saw them to buy here. I guess if the content of the can is similar to the content of the filling (just add all the weights of the ingredients), then this should give you an idea.

  6. Hi,
    I love Mohn Kuchen and my cousin in Hamburg sends me a Mohn Stollen every Christmas. I’d love to make this, but cant get ‘grits’ in the UK. What can I use as an alternative?
    Vielen Dank

    1. Hi Pamela,
      you can use Semolina if you can get that. It is even better than grits. If you have a German online shop in the UK, look for “Mohnback” that is the complete and “ready to use” mixture for Mohnkuchen.

  7. What size baking pan do you use. 5 cups of poppy seeds and 4 cups of flour sounds like a large amount…..

    1. If you have watched the video, I believe you will understand why so many poppy seeds are needed, they are the main ingredient. And the amount of flour seems correct, too, though you will have a more accurate amount if you use grams and a scale. The baking pan was adjustable and I can’t tell to what size I adjusted it in that video. But when you bake this cake and fill a similar baking pan, you can adjust it to a size that gives you a decent thick bottom layer and a thicker layer of the poppyseeds. But if you choose a larger size and the cake is flatter than mine, that’s totally ok, too as well as a smaller size with higher layers.

    1. Ooops, I lost a letter there, it’s supposed to be GRITS. I fixed it in the recipe. I hope you are familiar with grits? You’ll find them in the breakfast area if you live in the US. Brands like Quaker carry it.

      1. Would like to make this in 3 days time. I have everything except for grits, also someone can’t eat corn in the family. Is grits can be substituted with something else, like oats?

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