Poppy seeds bread pudding (Mákos guba / bobajka)

It’s hard to think of a more rewarding depository for leftover, stale bread rolls than this classic bread pudding which was featured in recipe collections as early as the 17th century. Bolstered with scalded sugary milk and finely ground poppy seeds and finished with a creamy vanilla sauce, the tired bread chunks transform into a moist, deeply satisfying dessert dish.

Ingredients

Yield: 4 servings; Total time: 30 minutes

For the bread pudding

  • 6 bread rolls (about 350 grams or ¾ pound), cut into 5 cm long by 1 cm thick (2 by ½ inch) chunks. Stale bread rolls work even better.

  • 2 ½ cups whole milk

  • ½ cup sugar

  • 130 grams (1 ⅓ cups) finely ground poppy seeds

  • Freshly grated lemon zest using 1 lemon

  • Pinch of salt

For the vanilla sauce

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 5 egg yolks

  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped from pod, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar)

  • 6 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 ½ tablespoons flour, mixed with 2 tablespoons cold milk

Directions

  • Step 1: Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 360 Fahrenheit.

  • Step 2: Scatter the bread roll chunks on a baking sheet and place into the oven for 12 minutes to crisp up slightly.

  • Step 3: In the meantime, prepare the bread pudding. In a saucepan, mix together whole milk, sugar, ground poppy seeds, lemon zest, salt, and heat the mixture to a simmer. Remove from heat just when the bread rolls come out of the oven.

  • Step 4: Layer the crispy bread roll chunks in a glass container that comfortably fits them and pour the hot milk-and-poppy-seeds mixture over them. Bread roll pieces should soak up most of the liquid (mix them thoroughly so that the bread pieces on top also get enough liquid).

  • Step 5: Prepare the vanilla sauce. Bring milk to a boil in a small pot. In another pot or saucepan, whip together egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla pod (or vanilla sugar), then gradually add the hot milk to it. Cook the milk mixture at medium-low and stir continuously with a whip until it starts to thicken slightly, about 5 minutes. Take care not to let the yolks curdle (keep temperature at medium-low to prevent curdling). Add 1 ½ tablespoons flour to a small bowl and mix well with 2 tablespoons cold milk. Pour this milk slurry into the saucepan and continue cooking the vanilla sauce at a bare simmer until it thickens into a light cream, then remove from heat. 

  • Step 6: Serve the mákos guba in individual plates with a generous pour of the hot vanilla sauce on top.  

Words of advice

Using freshly ground poppy seeds here can make a difference as stale poppy seeds often go rancid and leave a bitter taste.

I created these recipes with the help of nearly a dozen historical Hungarian cookbooks, adjusting ingredients, cooking times, and methods to reflect my own preferences and tastes of the current day. Do you have any feedback? Please let me know!