Food is a powerful link to heritage and cultural tradition. My paternal grandparents, Andy and Zella Kozusko, prepared many Slovak and Hungarian foods at holidays, and while I refused to eat pig’s feet, hrudka (eggs and milk cooked together to make a sort of “cheese”), and hard-boiled eggs soaked in beet juice, I always loved nut roll. Zella made nut rolls and poppy seed rolls each Christmas and Easter, and I planned to use her recipe, which called for fresh yeast, for this baking adventure. I did a bit of reading about fresh yeast, and learned the hard way that when the yeast experts say fresh yeast is highly perishable, they really mean it. The cake I bought went moldy in less than a week, even though it wasn’t anywhere near its expiration date. Oh well.
Since I had plenty of active dry yeast, I found another recipe online and used jars of nut filling instead of making my own from scratch. While these turned out to be very tasty, all but one of my four rolls split while baking, oozing filling out the sides. Next time, I think I’ll make my own filling, not roll the dough as thin, and not spread the filling on as thick. I also hope to learn the secrets of perfect nut roll preparations from a friend of my mom’s who bakes them each Christmas with his family, which Mike jokingly called my “nut roll internship.” I can only hope!
- 6-7 cups flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 packages active dry yeast (1/4 ounce each)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces sour cream
- 1 cup butter, softened
- ½ cup water
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 jars nut filling
Grease a large bowl and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine two cups flour with the sugar, yeast, and salt.
In a medium saucepan, combine butter, sour cream, and water. Heat to 120 – 130 degrees, then combine with flour mixture and beat for two minutes.
Add ½ cup flour and eggs. Beat for two minutes.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough flour to make a soft dough, then turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
Place in greased bowl, turning over once to coat, and let rise until doubled in size.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Punch dough down and divide into four portions; form each portion into a ball, then press it down and roll it into a 12×12 square.
Spread each square with a thin layer of nut filling, leaving an edge of about 1 inch on each side. Roll up into a log, pinching the seam to seal it and carefully tucking the ends under. Place seam-side down on the baking sheet.
Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size; I preheat my oven while the dough is rising to help it along.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned.
Cool on parchment on wire racks.