Hungarian Nut Rolls
Makes 4 rolls
Recipes for Hungarian rolls have graced many a handwritten cookbook, reflecting the strong baking tradition of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They are tremendously popular in Hungary, appearing for Easter and Christmas holidays, filled with poppy seeds and raisins as well as ground nuts. Every home and pastry shop has its own recipe for these rolls, known familiarly as beigli.
1 tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup warm milk (105 degrees to 115 degrees F.)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter;
at room temperature
1 large egg
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-3/4 to 4-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 cups (1 pound) walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons Cognac
About 1/3 cup hot milk (120 degrees F.)
1 whole egg, beaten for glaze
1. Pour 1/3 cup of the warm milk in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast and the pinch of sugar over the surface of the milk. Stir to dissolve and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl using a wooden spoon or in the work bowl of a heavy duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and beat vigorously for 1 minute. Beat in the remaining 2/3 cup milk, the yeast mixture, the lemon zest, salt, and 1 cup of the flour. Then beat in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough that just clears the sides of the bowl is formed.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and pliable, about 3 minutes, dusting with flour only 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to prevent sticking. The dough will be very soft but not sticky.
If kneading by machine, switch from the paddle to the dough hook and knead for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and springy and springs back when pressed. If desired, transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead briefly by hand.
4. Place the dough in a greased deep container. Turn once to coat the top and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at cool room temperature for 4 to 6 hours, deflating once or twice, or as long as overnight in the refrigerator.
5. Gently deflate the dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and divide into 4 equal portions. Form each portion into a thick rectangle, place on loosely floured parchment paper, cover loosely with a clean tea towel, and let rest for 30 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, make the filling: Combine the walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until finely ground. Combine the Cognac and milk and, with the motor running, pour the mixture through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, processing until a thick, spreadable paste is formed. (The filling maybe made ahead and stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator.)
7. Grease or parchment-line a baking sheet. Using a floured rolling pin on a very lightly floured work surface to minimize sticking, roll or pat out each dough portion into a 13-by-7-inch rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Spread the surface of each rectangle evenly with one-fourth of the nut paste. Working with I rectangle at a time and starting from a long side, fold over a 2-inch section. Continue to fold the dough in this manner to create a flattish oval (rather than round) long log of dough. Pinch the seams and place the dough, seam side down, on the baking sheet, fitting all 4 rolls horizontally on the pan about 2 inches apart. Brush with the egg glaze and prick all over with a fork. Let rest, uncovered, at room temperature about 20 minutes.
8. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush once more with the beaten egg. Place the baking sheet on a rack in the center of the oven and bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden and the loaves sound hollow when tapped with your finger. (If using 2 baking sheets, change the rack positions halfway through baking.) Let rest on the baking sheet 10 minutes. Using a large spatula, transfer the loaves to a cooling rack. Cool completely. Handle the hot breads carefully, because they are quite delicate.
Variation: Substitute 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder for the cinnamon in the filling. Though not authentic, pecans or hazelnuts can be substituted for the walnuts.
The Bread Bible
By Beth Hensperger
528 pages, 30 illustrations
Information provided by the publisher.
The Bread Bible
This page created March 1999