Walnut and poppy seed rolls (“bejgli”) are classic, traditional Christmas desserts in Hungary. We love them with lots of filling, and the paper-thin pastry melts in your mouth. You need some experience to make it, but it’s well worth worth the try. Sometimes the “bejgli” cracks open during baking, but no matter – to this we say: “Never mind, we’ll eat it with a spoon!” (The bejgli cracks if there is too much filling, or if the filling is too moist ). If this happens, you can push back the sides of the hot rolls (with hands or a spatula) and the crack will close!
“In Hungary, when close relatives are finally together once again for the Holidays and able to enjoy each other’s company, they listen to traditional Christmas folk music and have dinner. There is one thing in particular, however, that helps make such occasions so special. On the table, there is always a bejgli. Indeed, no Christmas is complete without this traditional, festive pastry. This age-old custom can be traced back to Hungarian folk traditions.
Nowadays, you may find different versions with marzipan, chestnuts, pumpkin, or even white chocolate and coconut. Sticking to the ‘original’, we bring you a recipe for bejgli with walnut and poppy seed.
Merry Christmas and a Happy Festive Season to all! Enjoy baking!”
– SZABOLCS TAKACS, AMBASSADOR OF HUNGARY
🇭🇺 Hungary: Bejgli
For the dough
- 1 Tbsp Fresh yeast can substitute with ½ Tbsp dry yeast
- 1 Egg yolk
- ½ Cup Lukewarm milk
- 1 Cup All-purpose flour (Plus 3 Tbsp)
- 6 Tbsp Cold butter
- 4 Tbsp Rendered lard
- 7 tsp powdered sugar
- 1 Egg (yolk and whites separated) for brushing
- Pinch of salt
For the poppy seed filling
- 1 Tbsp Poppy seeds
- 1 tsp Ground cinnamon
- 1 packet Vanilla sugar (roughly 1.5 tsp; can substitute regular sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract)
- Grated zest and juice of ½ orange
For the walnut filling
- 1 Tbsp Ground walnut
- 1 tsp Ground cinnamon
- 1 packet Vanilla sugar
- Grated zest of ½ lemon save 2 Tbsp of juice
For the combined filling
- ½ Cup Milk
- 1 Tbsp Honey
- 8 Tbsp Sugar
- 6 Raisins soaked in rum (optional)
Prepare the Dough
- In a bowl combine the yeast, egg yolk and lukewarm milk. Stir until smooth.
- Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the cold butter, lard, confectioners' sugar and a pinch of salt.
- Crumble everything together then pour in the egg mixture. Knead until you have a smooth dough which comes off the bowl and your hand with ease.
- Cut the dough into two equal parts, cover with cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, Make the Filling
- Mix the ground poppy seeds with the vanilla sugar, ground cinnamon, grated zest and juice of half orange. Mix the ground walnut with the vanilla sugar, ground cinnamon and grated zest and juice of half lemon.
- Bring the milk into a low boil, add the sugar and the honey and stir until dissolved.
- Pour half of this milk-mixture into the walnut and the other half into the poppyseed mix. (now, you can add the soaked raisins if you like). Stir the fillings well.
- Take the dough out from the fridge.
- Get one dough-ball then form a rectangle with your hand. Roll it out into an even, thin sheet which is about 8×12" size. (You can measure it with a pre-cut baking parchment).
- Spoon the walnut mixture onto the pastry sheet, then spread it evenly, leaving about an inch of exposed pastry on all sides.
- Fold the sorter sides of the pastry over the filling. Fold over one of the longer sides, then carefully roll it up. (be sure that the other side of the pastry is on the bottom when it's rolled up).
- Gently place it onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet, making sure the crease is on the bottom of the roll.
- Repeat with the second dough ball and the poppy seed filling.
- Poke some holes with a fork into the rolls (to let the steam escape during baking).
- Brush the rolls with beaten egg yolk, then let them dry. Brush the rolls with egg whites, then let them dry again.
- Put into the preheated oven and bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely.
- Slice them (not too thinly) and serve. Enjoy!