Sweet potato and Czech poppy seed

Sweet potato and Czech poppy seed

Sticky Fingers Green Thumb
Tara Pearce, Tim Hillier

During a trip to Prague I gorged myself on makový závin, a pastry loaded with bittersweet poppy seeds – a total danger zone for toothy smiles. This is a riff on that memory. The poppy seed filling swirls around a subtle, dense sweet potato cake studded with pecans. An excellent companion for a mug of strong black coffee.


Quantity Ingredient
260g sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
4 eggs
3 tablespoons vanilla extract
185g soft brown sugar
160ml sunflower oil
375g plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
100g pecans, chopped

Czech poppy seed filling

Quantity Ingredient
225g poppy seeds
1 orange, zest
45g sultanas (golden raisins)
45g soft brown sugar
2 teaspoons honey
4 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted
25g ground almonds
1 lemon, zest


  1. Add the sweet potato to a steamer set over a saucepan of lightly simmering water and cook until tender. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool, then blitz to a smooth purée using a food processor or hand-held blender.
  2. Preheat the oven to 175°C. Lightly grease and line a 22 cm ring (bundt) tin with baking paper.
  3. To make the poppy seed filling, put the poppy seeds in a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 5 minutes. Drain, then transfer to a food processor and blitz together with the orange zest and sultanas, then add the sugar, honey, melted butter, ground almonds and lemon zest and blitz again to combine.
  4. Beat the eggs, vanilla, sugar and oil together in a bowl using a handheld mixer, or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, for 2–3 minutes until smooth. Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and salt one by one and continue to beat until thoroughly combined, then beat in the sweet potato purée and pecans until evenly distributed. Gently fold in the poppy seed mixture.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly in the tin for 5 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Sunshine vine

  • Although sweet potatoes are commonly grown as a perennial ground cover, with eagle-eyed pruning and plenty of sunlight they’ll be right at home in a sturdy vertical garden or hanging over a rooftop ledge.
edible flowers
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