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Poppy Seed Bars

Mary Ellen Bartley

Yield: Yields about 48 bars

If you love poppy seeds, this confection is for you. The seeds are cushioned between a moist base and a crisp topping.


For the filling:

  • 11/2 cups poppy seeds
  • 2 oz. (1/2 cup) blanched, sliced, and toasted almonds
  • 1 T bs. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 oz. (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

For the base and topping:

  • 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz. (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar; more for dusting
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 oz. (1/2 cup) blanched, sliced, and toasted almonds
  • 8 oz. (1 cup) cold unsalted butter; more for the pan
  • 1 large egg


Make the filling:

  • Combine the poppy seeds, almonds, and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse until fine. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and add the remaining ingredients. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture boils and thickens to a syrup, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Make the base and topping:

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9×13-inch pan. In a food processor, combine the flour, confectioners’ sugar, baking powder, and almonds. Pulse to blend. Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces and drop them on top of the flour mixture. Pulse again until the butter pieces are the size of peas. With the machine running, add the egg through the feed tube. Pulse until the dough forms a ball. If the blade lifts up, remove the dough and finish mixing by hand.

Assemble and bake:

  • Pat half of the dough into the prepared pan, flouring your hands if the dough sticks to them. Pour the cooled filling over the base. Crumble the remaining dough over the filling to create a topping. Bake until the topping is browned, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool, cut into bars, and, if you like, dust them with confectioners’ sugar.


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