Every culture has special foods for the holidays. My family is Hungarian and so Christmas meant baking these Walnut and Poppy Seed Rolls. I liked helping my Mom with the baking as it gave us time to talk. I lived far from home but I usually made it home for Christmas.
SWEET YEAST DOUGH for Kulacs or Kifli
as taught to me by my Mom, Helen Veres-Barzso (Barzo)
*note: this is a basic sweet yeast dough that can be used for cinnamon buns or raisin bread.
½ cup butter melted and cooled
3 1/2 – 4 cups all purpose flour
1 – 3 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon fine table salt
2 ¼ teaspoons quick rise yeast (or 1 packet)
4 eggs or yolks only if making walnut filling
1 cup warm milk (120 F)
Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Add eggs or egg yolks, warm milk and melted butter. Mix ingredients and then knead by hand or use stand mixer with a dough hook. Knead until dough is elastic and smooth. Form into ball, cover and let dough rise until it doubles in size (1 – 1 ½ hours).
Press/punch dough to release air. Tip it out onto a lightly floured board and form it into a ball. Cut dough in half, putting 1 piece back into bowl and cover. With rolling pin, roll dough into a rectangle to a ¼ inch thickness. Spread with poppyseed or walnut filling leaving about ½ inch without filling on all edges. Roll up like a jelly roll along the long side. Press/pinch the seam together and place seam on the bottom of a pan which has been lightly buttered or lined with parchment. Fold under and seal ends. Repeat with 2nd piece of dough. Two rolls should fit in an oblong baking pan. Cover and let rise until it doubles in size (1 hour).
Bake at 350 F for 40 – 45 minutes — it will be a golden brown colour.
Proofing tip: Your oven is a good place to let your dough rise with just the oven light on. Also check, your oven make have a proofing feature.
Note: instead of making 1 or 2 large rolls, you can cut the dough in small rectangles and fill with plum lekvar, poppy seed or walnut filling.
Fillings: these fillings can be used for kulacs, or some small kiflis.
1 lb or 2 cups ground poppyseed.
Grind poppyseed in a coffee grinder. A food processor or blender will not work as the seeds need to get cracked.
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup milk
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/cup raisins – optional
Mix everything together in a saucepan and bring to boil, lower heat and cook for 5 – 10 minutes. Let cool before using. Enough for 1 or 2 rolls.
- 1 lb or 2 cups ground walnuts
- ¼ cup sugar or more to taste
- whipped egg whites
Mix walnuts and sugar; fold in only enough egg whites to moisten the walnuts. Enough for 1 or 2 rolls.
Plum, Apricot or Peach Lekvar – for small jam filled buns
Lekvar is a very thick jam from Eastern Europe and is available in European delis, some grocery stores in the international section or you can make your own. Regular jams have too much water in them so that the filling would melt and leak out of dough. This filling is for making small buns.
Plum lekvar – I make my plum lekvar from stewing pitted prunes. Put the prunes into a saucepan and add a little water. Simmer until the prunes soften and take up the water. You want it thick but still moist. Leftover will keep for a long time in fridge and it is delicious on toast.
Apricot lekvar – make it the same way as the plums but with dried apricots.
Peach lekvar — cook fresh or frozen sliced fruit in a saucepan with sugar to taste. Do not add certo. You want to cook it until it thickens. A little lemon juice can be added.