Beigli – a traditional Hungarian pastry roll filled with walnuts, a real treat for Christmas!
These delicious traditional Hungarian Pastry Rolls with Walnut Filling are something you definitely have to try! I’ve made them for the first time a few months ago just to give them a try and see if they make a suitable post for the blog and we loved them so much, I made them twice since, both times to bring to some parties. Each time they were gone in a flash and I had to hand out the recipe to several people.
There are two kinds of beigli or Hungarian pastry roll: the rolls filled with a poppy seed filling (which I have to try soon) and this walnut version, which is kind of similar to the Romanian Sweet Bread with Walnuts – Cozonac that my grandmother always used to make for Christmas and Easter in Romania. Maybe the Hungarian beigli was the inspiration for the Romanian cozonac, I cannot say, but they are both really delicious! You will find similar pastry rolls filled with poppy seeds or walnuts all over Eastern Europe, so I think it would be really difficult to determine where exactly they originate from.
Although I like cozonac very much nowadays (I used to hate it as a child because it contained nuts and for me any cake containing nuts was disgusting during those time!!!), I could almost say that I prefer making beigli.
Why? Well, I think making the yeast dough is a bit easier than making the cozonac dough. They are both pretty similar, but my grandmother’s cozonac recipe requires such a long and vigorous kneading that it kind of puts me off baking it. On the other side, this beigli recipe requires only a normal amount of kneading, which can be easily done in the kitchen machine (Thermomix in my case).
And another plus point: beigli contains much more walnut filling than the cozonac and that’s definitely something I love.
To make the pastry I used a recipe found here (in Romanian). I liked the fact that they used lard, I just happened to have half a pack in the fridge leftover from making this Apricot Jam Crumble Cake with Walnuts again. I’ve actually enjoyed baking with lard lately, I’ve rarely ever used in the past, but after reading a bit online about the benefits of cooking and baking with lard, I kept searching for recipes using it. Luckily, I have my old Romanian cookbooks, they do contain quite a few recipes using lard, it was the normal fat to use half a century ago, too bad that changed.
If you like to read more about lard and why using it in your cooking and baking might be a good idea (well, unless you are a vegetarian) have a look at this article from The Guardian, I found it great!
And if you would like to learn how to render lard at home, visit The Daring Gourmet.
For more cake ideas with walnuts have a look at the following:
- For the pastry:
- 530 g/ 18.7 oz/ 4 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 125 g/ 4.4 oz/ 2/3 cup lard
- 25 g/ 0.9 oz fresh yeast or 1 sachet (7 g/ 0.25 oz) instant dry yeast
- 150 ml/ 5 fl.oz/ 2/3 cup lukewarm milk
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 whole egg
- a pinch of salt
- For the walnut filling:
- 250 g/ 8.8 oz/ 2 ½ cups ground walnuts
- 100 ml/ 3.4 fl.oz/ 1/3 + 1 tablespoon milk
- 100 g/ 3.5 oz/ ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon rum (or some rum aroma)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract/aroma)
- 2 egg whites (one from the pastry, one from the egg needed for brushing the pastry)
- 1 egg yolk for brushing the pastry
- 1 tablespoon milk
Give the flour and the soft lard to the food processor. Pulse until mixed.
Dissolve the yeast and the sugar in the lukewarm milk. If using instant yeast give it to the flour. Give the yeast mixture to the flour and lard and add the egg yolk, whole egg and salt. Knead until the dough is smooth and doesn't stick to the walls of the machine anymore. Give the dough to the working surface and knead shortly with the hands. Form a ball.
If making the dough without a food processor, mix the flour and the lard with the help of a butter knife. Give the lard in small pieces to the flour and keep cutting through it with a knife until roughly incorporated. Add the dissolved yeast and the rest of the ingredients and knead until the dough is smooth and doesn't stick to your hands anymore. Form a ball.
Give the dough to a large bowl, cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place for about 40-60 minutes or until doubled in size.
In the meantime prepare the filling:
Give the ground walnuts, sugar and milk to a small pot and bring to a boil. Take off the heat, let cool for about 5 minutes, then add the rum (or rum aroma), vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract/aroma) and the lightly beaten egg whites. Mix well.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
Give the dough to the working surface and knead shortly again. Divide it into two equal parts.
Roll one half of the dough with a rolling pin to form a rectangle of about 35x28 cm/ 14x11 inches. Spread the filling onto the rectangle leaving about 2 cm/ 0.8 inch space at the bottom and the sides of the rectangle and about 5 cm/ 2 inches space at the top of the dough rectangle.
Fold the sides of the dough over the filling to keep it from coming out during the baking. Roll the pastry starting at the bottom side and carefully fold the upper side over the roll, pressing gently to seal the roll as tightly as possible.
Let rest on a baking tray lined with baking paper for about 15 minutes.
Mix the leftover egg yolk and 1 tablespoon milk. Brush the pastry with this mixture and make some holes on the top of the beigli using a fork. This will keep them from splitting.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes or until deeply golden and cooked through.
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