The traditional Hungarian walnut and poppy seed rolls for Christmas.
rising and proving time: 2 hours
oven temperature: 200˚C/gas 6
cooking time: 25-30 mins
makes: 4 rolls, two of each filling
225g butter (at room temperature)
60g icing sugar
15g fresh yeast (or 1 sachet/7g fast action dried yeast) lightly dissolved in the milk
2 egg yolks
160g milk (weighted)
poppy seed filling:
270g ground poppy seeds
2 lemons, zest & juice of 1
2 tsp vanilla extract
270g ground walnuts
1 lemon, zest
1 orange, zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp orange liqueur (optional)
1 egg yolk
1 egg white
Make up the dough by sifting the flour into a large bowl then rubbing the butter in lightly with your fingers. When the mixture resembles crumbs, add the icing sugar, egg yolks and yeasty milk. Bring it all together to a smooth dough that leaves the bowl. Divide the pastry into 4 equal parts and give a little light knead to the individual portions. Cover with cling film then rest the dough in the fridge for an hour.
When it comes to grinding the poppy seeds, I set up my trusty poppy seed grinder, which you can find in almost every proud home cook’s cupboard in Hungary. I only use it for grinding the poppy seeds. It is in effect a manual burr grinder. So, if you have an electric coffee or nut grinder, you will get the job done even faster!
For the filling you will need to melt the sugar in the water on the hob. Then add the walnut or poppy seeds and the rest of the ingredients. Divide the walnut and poppy seed mix into two, so that you end up with 4 filling portions. Cover and cool in the fridge.
Once the pastry has rested, roll the dough portions out one at a time to about the size of an A4 (29 x 21cm) sheet of paper. Spread out the filling, leaving a gap around the edges. Alternatively you can roll out the filling too by placing it between two sheets of cling film. This will give a neater finish. Now fold up the two sides, this will stop the filling leaking out the ends of the roll. I find it easier to start rolling up the pastry from the further end rolling towards me. When you have the 4 rolls ready on the baking tray brush them with egg yolk and rest in the fridge for 30 mins. Then brush the rolls again, but this time with egg white, and rest it for another 30 mins at room temperature. This will create the characteristic marbled effect.
Just before the beigli goes into the preheated oven, I make a few holes on the rolls with a skewer. They will serve as little vent holes for the steam to escape. Bake on the middle shelf for 25-30 minutes. The beigli is cooked when it takes up a lovely golden colour. Let the rolls cool completely before slicing them diagonally.