Hungarian/Czech Nutrolls

Okay, okay, “SLAVIC” Nut Rolls. Dad’s side of my family hails from near the borders of the old Austrian-Hungarian Empire (what’s used to be Czechoslovakia), and they’ve always claimed to be “Czech”, though the recipe itself (along with all the other goodies that side of the family made at Christmas) is Hungarian. While the dough part stays consistent through a lot of other families’ recipes for this, the filling does not. Each family has its own variation.
Despite what my family claims, these are NOT “super secret”, because I’ve seen too many other Hungarian/Slavic/Russian families post their recipes. I’ve tinkered with & changed the original recipe so much that it’s now MY recipe — the original was obtained from my Great-Aunt M., who dictated it by memory to my non-baker dad at a busy Catholic Bingo Game, & Dad then transcribed his scribbles to a typewritten note…
…yeah. That didn’t work. When I (an amateur baker) and a friend (a trained pro chef) couldn’t get the recipe to work, it was time to abandon it & seek help via the Internet. And wow, it’s obvious how much Great-Aunt left out of that dictation.
Hungarian nut rolls, a traditional Christmas/Easter treat, complete with my notes & asides from years of trying to get this to turn out right.
2 packs of dry fast-rising yeast mixed in 1/2 cup warm milk (105-110 degrees F)
6 – 6 1/2 cups sifted bread flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
7 Tablespoons sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 sticks melted butter
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Dissolve yeast in milk & set aside until foamy. Combine rest of ingredients, then add yeast mix. Blend until well-mixed, then turn out onto floured board & knead until smooth. Let rise 1-2 hours, punching down at 30 minute intervals. Divide the dough into four parts, shape into small loaves, set on a floured cookie sheet & cover with a clean towel. Let the dough rest for another 30 minutes while you prepare the filling.
3 lbs shelled walnuts, ground up fine (have an extra pound of the nuts on hand, just in case you use too much milk — if you buy pre-packaged walnut pieces, make sure they’re the full 16 oz/1 1b. If they’re only 12 oz, you’ll need four of them).
3 cups of granulated sugar
7 tablespoons Amaretto (Amaretto is tons cheaper, but if you’re not legal to buy liquor, use 3 small bottles or 1 large 2-oz bottle of almond extract).
3 egg whites (save yolks for glaze on loaves)
1 cup milk
1 stick unsalted butter
In a large bowl, add the sugar to the ground nuts & mix well. Over med-low to low heat, warm milk with the butter until butter is melted, then add in the almond extract/amaretto. Beat the egg whites until stiff (they’ll form peaks when you lift the blender out), then add to the milk & stir well. Pour the milk mixture into the nuts a little at a time — it should have the consistency of thick, somewhat dry oatmeal. (You may not use all the milk.)
Melt a stick of butter. Grease a large sheet-cake pan with crisco. Roll each dough-loaf out to about a 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Cover thinly with the nut mixture.
Starting with one of the long ends, roll up like a jelly roll and fold the ends closed, under the loaf. Put each loaf in the pan with the flap side down. Loaves should be close, but not touching; three loaves in the pan at most, otherwise you won’t be able to get them out. Brush melted butter onto the ends & sides of each loaf, to prevent them from sticking together. Don’t be stingy with that butter.
Mix the leftover egg yolks with 3 Tbsp warm water & brush this on top of the loaves for a glaze. Pierce each loaf 5 or 6 times with a toothpick & let the loaves rest 15 minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes to an hour (check at 30-45 min; if loaves are golden-brown, they’re done — the loaves should make a hollow sound when tapped). When done, take out of oven & brush some more melted butter or margarine over top of the loaves. Let the loaves sit in the pan for about 15 minutes, then remove themo a wire cake rack to cool completely.
Loaves keep really well & freeze wonderfully. I usually make them about two days before mailing or giving them out; my grandmother would make a big batch at Christmas, then freeze half the batch for Easter — they tasted delicious at both holidays!

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