Mohnkuchen mit Streusel (German Poppy Seed Cake)

This is my favorite German pastry! It's virtually impossible to find outside of Germany so learning to make it yourself is your best bet. There are many variations but my favorite is topped with crumbly strudels. The filling is a thick layer of poppy seeds which gives the cake an interesting texture and nutty flavor. You can optionally add a few raisins and/or walnuts to the filling, which are often included in the Mohnkuchen at German bakeries. The bottom layer is a moist, "bready" cake made with yogurt.

Note: I used a 18 cm (7 in) tart pan with removable bottom.


50 g Flour (about 1/2 cup)
25 g Brown sugar (2.5 Tbsp)
42 g Unsalted butter (3 Tbsp)
150 g Flour (260 ml or 1 heaping cup)
5 g baking powder (1/2 Tbsp)
1 pinch Salt
75 g Plain yogurt (4 Tbsp)
3 Tbsp Milk or cream
42 g Unsalted butter (3 Tbsp)
30 g Sugar (3 Tbsp)
100 g Poppy seeds (about 160 ml, or 11 Tbsp)
28 g Unsalted butter (2 Tbsp)
175 ml Milk (3/4 cup)
1/4 tsp Ground cinnamon
1/2 Vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp Honey
40 g Semolina flour (3 Tbsp)
1 Egg
2 Tbsp raisins and/or walnuts (optional)
18 cm (7 in) tart pan with removeable bottom or pie dish


  1. In a bowl, mix flour, sugar and cinnamon for the streusel topping. Cut chilled butter into small pieces and add to bowl.

  2. Using hands, form crumbles by kneading butter pieces into the mix to make crumbly lumps.

  3. Squish together crumbles yourself if it gets too "sandy." Chill in refrigerator for about an hour or until ready to make the rest of the cake.

  4. Preheat oven to 180C/350F as you start the bottom cake layer.

  5. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in one bowl.

  6. In another large bowl, mix softened butter, yogurt, milk/cream, and sugar until it becomes smooth and creamy.

  7. Add in the flour and baking powder mix to the yogurt mix. Mix until batter comes together enough to hold.

  8. Dust flour on you hands and a cutting board, then remove dough from bowl and knead into a ball.

  9. The dough should be fairly smooth. You can wrap and let sit until later or go ahead and roll it out for your cake.

  10. When ready to roll, flour the rolling surface and roll dough into a shape that fits your baking pan (I used an 18cm tart form but you can use anything that works).

  11. Press dough into your baking dish. I make the edges a little higher so it will hold the filling better, almost like a pizza!

  12. Next, heat the milk and butter on low until the butter is melted.

  13. Add in vanilla, flour, cinnamon and honey. Stir well so the mixture becomes smooth (it's okay if there's still a few little lumps). Bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat and let soak for a few minutes.

  14. If you have the tools, roughly grind the poppy seeds in batches using a mortar & pestle or food processor, etc. This help release the flavors of the seeds.

  15. Pour the poppy seeds into the milk and flour mix. Stir until well combined. Add the raisins/walnuts here if using.

  16. After the the poppy seed mix has cooled down a bit, mix in one egg. The mix can be warm, but it shouldn't be hot because you don't want the egg to end up cooking.

  17. Spread the poppy seed filling evenly over the cake layer.

  18. Lastly, top the filling with the strudel crumbles. Bake at 180°C/350°F for 25-30 minutes.

  19. The crumbles should be nice and golden when done! Remove from oven and let cool for 45-60 minutes. Check after a 20-30 minutes to make sure the studels aren't browning to fast. If they are, lightly lay a piece of aluminum foil over the top.

  20. Remove from oven and let cool for 1 hour Slice up and serve! If you like a touch more sweetness, drizzle with honey ;)

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I grew up in Southern Germany (Stuttgart) and Ohio. I love bread baking, German food, and healthy, homestyle cooking in general inspired by my family and life in Japan. Follow my cooking adventures on Instagram :)