Citizens, Beigli (sometimes spelled Bejgli) is a delicious Hungarian Christmas treat. This pastry is ubiquitous around Christmastime, you can buy it in practically any shop or bakery.
Both walnut (diós) and poppy seed (mákos) bejgli are traditional. In Hungarian cuisine the rolls, one with each filling, are traditionally served together. The combination is known as mákos és diós (poppy seed and walnut).
As noted from the excellent website globalgourmet.com:
Makosh (Mákos Beigli) is a cake-like yeast roll with a poppy seed filling.
Origin: Central Europe
Other names: Germany: mohn kuchen; Hungary: mákos beigli.
Kuchen rolls are very popular in central and eastern Europe; they probably originated as a means of transforming some extra bread dough into a special treat for the family. The yeast dough was rolled into a thin rectangle, spread with a sweet filling, and rolled into a cylinder jelly-roll style.
The original cake rolls were commonly filled with the most popular medieval central European spice, poppy seeds (mohn in German and mák in Hungarian), and the name of the rolls became simply makosh in Hungary. Hungarians also made a filling from ground walnuts (diós).
Poles and Germans generally spread the dough with a thicker layer of filling and let the shaped roll rise to produce thicker cake layers. Hungarians tended to roll out the dough very thin and to not allow it to rise, instead rushing it directly into the oven; the resulting pastry had very thin cake layers alternating with thin layers of filling, akin to the layers in a yeast strudel.
In the early American cookbook Aunt Babette’s (Cincinnati, 1889), the German Jewish author included a recipe for “Mohn Kuchen (Poppy Seed).” The first edition of The Settlement Cook Book (Milwaukee, 1901), also by a German Jewish author, included a recipe for “Poppy Seed Roll or Mohn Kuchen.” This pastry is still one of the favorite desserts of Hungarian Jews.
Although central and eastern European Jews have a long tradition of yeast cake rolls, including the Polish babka, none embraced them as enthusiastically as the Hungarians.
Many Hungarians serve makosh, kakosh, diós beigli (walnut roll), or one or more of the other variations on every Sabbath and at life-cycle events.
In the late twentieth century, some Hungarian Jewish commercial bakeries in America began introducing these rolls to the wider public and chocolate and poppy seed rolls became commonplace at American gourmet shops. From a land renowned for its pastry, makosh and kakosh rank with the best of Hungarian specialties.
Most families in Hungary have their own Beigli recipe – this is mine. 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
Ingredients for the dough for 4 rolls:
1 kg white AP flour
200 g butter
150 g lard (no, you shouldn’t substitute, but if you must, make it butter)
80 g sugar
3 tablespoons full-fat sour cream (TFD prefers Daisy brand)
1 egg (TFD prefers a duck egg for richer flavor)
1 tsp of rum
10 g fresh yeast (can be bought in cubes) started in 1 dl warm milk
pinch of salt
2 beaten egg yolks (for brushing on the rolls)
2 beaten eggs whites (for brushing on the rolls)
Filling Ingredients for 4 rolls:
For the poppy seed filling:
300 g of ground poppy seeds – grind poppy seeds in a clean spice or coffee grinder with sugar so it doesn’t stick together
200 g sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla paste (preferred) or extract
50 g of raisins, processed or chopped to a paste
1 ½ tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons of apricot jam
1 dl milk
Cherry jam for spreading on dough
For the walnut filling:
1 ½ cup sugar
6 tablespoons sweet dessert wine (TFD uses Hungarian Tokaji, 6 Puttonyos)
2 pounds walnuts, ground — use a rotary cheese grater, which is what’s used in Hungary. It grinds the walnuts leaving them light and fluffy, not gritty like a food processor
1 ½ tablespoons grated orange zest
3 tablespoons apricot jam
3 tablespoons orange marmalade
½ cup golden raisins, processed or chopped to a paste
In one bowl, combine flour, butter, lard, sugar, salt, and crumble them together.
In another bowl, mix together milk, rum, yeast and egg. Mix until smooth.
Pour the liquids into the solids, and knead until you get a smooth dough. Do not overknead! Stop as soon as the dough becomes uniform.
Once the dough is smooth, divide it into 4 equal parts, roll them up into balls, cover with cling wrap and let them rest in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Prepare the fillings. For the poppy seed filling, begin by adding the sugar to the milk. Heat up the mixture (do not boil), remove from the heat and mix in the remaining ingredients.
For the walnut filling, combine sugar and wine and bring to a boil; pour over all the other filling ingredients and mix well.
Remember: each of the two types of filling (walnut and poppy seed) will fill TWO rolls, to make a total of four at the end. So divide your walnut filling into two portions and your poppy seed filling into two portions.
Once the dough has been well rested in the fridge, use a rolling pin to create an even rectangle of dough. The width should be the width of the cookie sheet in your oven (so that it fits). Make sure the thickness is even.
On 2 of the dough rectangles (the ones for the poppy seed filling) spread a thin layer of cherry jam. Now spread the filling uniformly on the rectangle of dough, making sure to leave a quarter of an inch free around the edges. A Hungarian aesthetic principle is that the dough and filling layers should be of equal thickness.
Repeat with the remaining 2 rectangles for the walnut filling (don’t use cherry jam on these!).
If your filling is firm enough, and you are precise enough, you can make balls of filling, cover them with cling wrap and use the rolling pin to create filling rectangles slightly smaller than your dough.
Now fold the edges over the filling and press down, on all four sides. Roll up the dough along the longer side.
Make holes in the top with a fork to let steam escape. This will help to keep the rolls from splitting along the top.
Spread egg yolk on the top of the beigli with a brush. Let it dry. Then spread egg white on top of the beigli. Let it dry. (The yolk adds a nice golden color, the egg white adds shine. Also, the time you wait for the two coats to dry allows the dough to rise even more.)
Put the rolls on a cookie sheet covered with baking paper. Put them in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 15 minues, then lower the heat to 190C, and bake until golden and the beigli are firm to the touch, which is aproximately an additional 15 minutes. So total baking time should be about 30 minutes.
Once they are done, wait for them to cool before slicing and serving.