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Eastern European Walnut or Poppyseed Roll

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Delicious holiday treat with Eastern European origins, this sweet yeast bread is filled with either walnut or poppy seed fillings. It's the favorite part of my holiday season!

Eastern European Walnut or Poppyseed Roll

  • Yield: 4 loaves


  • 2 ¾ cups whole milk
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 5 eggs, separated, whites whipped medium-stiff
  • 3 TB sour cream
  • 1 ¼ TB lemon rind
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 small yeast cake, proofed with 1 tsp sugar and ½ cup of the milk)
  • 4 cups ground walnuts or poppyseeds
  • 1 TB lemon rind
  • squeeze lemon
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon


  1. First make the dough: mix the dough as you would pie dough. Place the flour, rind, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl, and cut in the butter and shortening.
  2. Make a well in the flour mixture, and add the sour cream, egg yolks, lemon juice, vanilla and yeast, folding them together slowly, adding the rest of the milk as needed.
  3. Add to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat several minutes with the dough hook, until the dough comes away from the bowl. Divide the dough in four equal portions and set aside to rise.
  4. While the dough rises, make the filling: In a large saucepan, add all the filling ingredients (walnut OR poppyseeds). Cook on the stove until the sugar dissolves and becomes lightly brown. Remove from the heat and cool. When ready to use, fold in the egg whites left over from the yolks above..
  5. When the dough has risen to double its size, roll each roll into a size that fits into a 9 x 13 pan. Brush the rolled dough with melted butter, spread ¼ of the filling on the dough and roll like jelly roll.
  6. Place in the buttered pan and let rise again. Two rolls should fit into each 9 x 13 pan.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F. Once fully risen, brush with egg wash and bake about 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Let rest in the pan and remove when cool.

Recipe Tags

As the offspring of Hungarian parents, growing up under the influences of the Hungarian culture was probably one of the most cherished memories of my life. Hungarian weddings, funerals and other social gatherings became an integral part of who I became. The food and music tell the stories of the lives left behind, many people coming to America as young children. The men would always talk about how they, as a people, always worked hard to provide a simple life; one filled with good ethics, kindness to others and a true sense of community. The women would always talk about what life was like in “the old country”. There were no dishwashers, electric mixers, or other modern appliances, yet for some reason everything they made, they made with simple ingredients and love. Perfection was the final outcome. It didn’t matter how laborious the task, the end product always seemed to be worth the effort, especially for those enjoying the fruits of their labor. Of course many of my mother’s best recipes were always those without exact measurement, and for some reason they were always perfect. No chemistry involved here. I am going to share with you one of my families most loved treats the Hungarian Nut roll/ Poppy seed rolls. Working this into a doable recipe involved many years of writing down years of preparation with adding a little of this and that and a multitude of measuring devices (coffee cups, measuring cups, soup spoons…I think you get the idea). This was one formula I put together 1984.



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