Color & Control:

Poppy Seed and Pecan Strudel

Every Easter when I was growing up, I would wake up to the smell of makoviy rulet, a poppy seed and nut roll that’s a traditional baked delicacy popular all over Ukraine. Making the dough can be quite time-consuming, but here I’ve made the process quicker and easier by using store-bought phyllo pastry instead of the usual yeast dough. A slice of this strudel with some black tea with lemon (how we drink it in Ukraine) or coffee is heavenly.

Active Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours
8–10 servings


3 cups pecans (about 10 oz.)
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup poppy seeds
10 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 (17×12″) sheets fresh phyllo pastry or frozen, thawed
1 large egg, beaten to blend
Powdered sugar (for serving)

Step 1

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread out pecans on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast until slightly darkened in color and fragrant, 13–15 minutes. Let cool.

Step 2

Bring milk and poppy seeds to a boil in a medium saucepan; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until milk is almost completely evaporated, 13–15 minutes. Let mixture cool.

Step 3

Scrape into a food processor. Cut 6 Tbsp. butter into pieces and add to food processor along with pecans, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla. Process until a paste forms.

Step 4

Melt remaining 4 Tbsp. butter in a small saucepan over medium heat (or in a microwave). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment, then brush with some of the melted butter.

Step 5

Place a stack of 6 phyllo sheets on a work surface. Cover with plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel.

Step 6

Arrange prepared baking sheet so a long side is facing you and stack 2 phyllo sheets on top; brush lightly with butter. Top with another sheet of phyllo and brush lightly with butter. Repeat with 2 more sheets, then top with final sheet; do not brush with butter.

Step 7

Using an offset or rubber spatula, spread poppy seed mixture over pastry in an even layer, leaving a 1″ border on all sides. Starting with the long side closest to you, gently roll up pastry and turn seam side down; tuck exposed ends underneath. Using a sharp knife, cut horizontal slits about halfway through roll, spacing every 1″ along length. Brush with egg.

Step 8

Bake strudel until golden and crisp, 40–45 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and let strudel cool.

Step 9

Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar and slice.

Step 10

Do Ahead: Strudel can be baked 1 day ahead. Let cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and store at room temperature.


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