Dios Kalacs (Walnut Roll)
Our good friend Donna Bathory, whose family hails from Hungary, has suggested this recipe for December. (I have increased the amount of sugar in both the dough and the filling from two tbsp. to ½ cup. You may decide how sweet you want it!) Thanks Donna!
This festive coffee bread is made, with various adaptations, throughout Hungary, Romania and the Slavic countries of Eastern Europe. Regional variations include the addition of honey, dates, grated apples, breadcrumbs, lemon or orange peel.
Mix yeast with two tbsp. warm water and let it rest for five minutes, until bubbles begin to appear. Add salt, sugar, vanilla, egg and butter. Add flour and mix with your hands, adding more flour until an elastic ball forms. Knead for three/four minutes, and let it rise in cloth-covered, greased bowl for about two hours.
Make walnut filling while dough is completing the last 15 minutes of rising. Grind nuts in a nut grinder or food processor. Too much grinding or chopping can release the nut oil, making a walnut butter instead of paste, so be careful and don’t over-grind!
In a bowl mix walnuts, sugar, vanilla, egg white and cream; if the mixture seems dry, as though it would be hard to spread on toast, add more egg white or a little more cream.
After the dough has risen, roll it out on a slightly floured board until about 12×14 inches, and about 1/8 inch thick. Spread the paste evenly over dough, leaving one inch on the long side uncovered. If using raisins, strew them overall, then roll the dough starting with the side opposite to the side with an empty one inch border; lightly moisten the open edge with water, and when the roll almost reaches that side, stick the open border to the roll to close it up, then roll it, seam side down, onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Crimp together the open ends and fold them securely under the roll. Brush the roll with one egg yolk mixed with a tiny bit of water; let it dry, then brush it again with egg yolk mixture.
Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
Let the roll rise for 15-20 minutes, but not much longer. Baking can take from 25-40 minutes; check it at 25, and make sure the bottom is browning. If the top is browning too quickly, cover it lightly with tin foil. The bottom is the key to doneness. Remove roll from oven and cool on a rack.
A POPPY SEED FILLING can replace the walnut filling:
Grind two cups of poppy seed in a poppy seed grinder or mortar and pestle. Boil in a pan with ½ cup milk and ½ cup sugar (or more if you like) for five minutes, then add one tsp vanilla. Stir in four ounces of soft unsalted butter. If you want poppy seeds without grinding, you can use Solo brand poppy seed filling (one can), add four ounces butter and about two tbsp cream to make creamier and less sweet. Raisins may be added.
Paola and Donna