Traditional Hungarian Bejgli with Walnut Filling

Traditional Hungarian Bejgli with Walnut Filling

Traditional Hungarian Bejgli with Walnut Filling

 

The traditional Hungarian Christmas cake, ‘bejgli’ has many legends surrounding its origin. What we certainly know, since the second half of the 19th century there has been no Christmas without this pastry.

 

Originally, two kinds of fillings - walnut and poppy seed paste - were used in bejgli, both with a symbolic meaning: poppy seeds symbolised wealth and fertility, while walnuts were believed to protect against bewitching. Nowadays, there are many different fillings used in bejgli, from chestnut, marzipan, to apple, coconut and hazelnut.

 

This bejgli recipe with walnut paste has been handed down in our family for generations. The preparation takes time, plus the dough needs an hour and 30 minutes of resting time, but the result is well worth the effort!

 

For the dough (for 2 rolls):

  • 500 g plain white flour
  • 200 g butter or margarine
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 40 g sunflower honey
  • 10 g fresh yeast (or 6 g dry active yeast)
  • 120 ml warm milk
  • pinch of salt

Walnut filling (for 2 bejglis):

  • 500 g ground walnuts
  • 3 tbsp vanilla sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon 
  • 140 ml boiling water
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 5 cloves

+ 1 egg yolk and 1 egg white for glazing the bejgli

To prepare the dough, first put the yeast then the egg yolk into the warm milk and stir together. Set aside for a few minutes. In a large bowl, add the pinch of salt to the flour then mix in the honey and butter (or margarine). Combine well then pour in the pre-mixed milk, egg yolk and yeast liquid. Mix well until the dough easily comes off your hands and does not stick to the wall of the bowl. Transfer the dough onto the worktop and knead it fully (for approx. 5 min). Divide the dough into two pieces and form them into balls. Wrap them in cling film or better, in beeswax paper and place them in the fridge for an hour. 

While the dough is resting, prepare the walnut filling. Put the water in a medium pan onto the stove to boil. Slowly pour in the caster sugar to prepare a syrup. Place the cloves into a tea strainer and place it into the syrup. Cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring continuously. 

In another bowl, mix the ground walnut with the vanilla sugar and lemon zest. Slowly, ladle by ladle, add the syrup and mix well. Add enough syrup to the walnut mix that sticks together but still spreadable. 

Take the balls out of the fridge and roll them out into a rectangular shape on a floured worktop. Take half of the walnut filling and spread it on the first dough while leaving approx. 1-2 cm empty edges on each side. Fold in the edges, then roll up the dough. Repeat with the second dough.

Place them in a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Separate the eggs. Set the egg whites aside. Gently whisk the egg yolk and brush each bejgli with it evenly. Once done, put them in a cool place for 30 min to let the egg yolk dry. Now brush the rolls evenly with the egg white, prick the top and sides with a skewer, toothpick or fork in order to let the steam off during baking. Let the rolls rise at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C. Once the rolls have rested, place them in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.

 

 

Let it cool before serving. Jó étvágyat! 

 

 

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