Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Poppy Seed and Walnut Rolls

As I have shared before, I am Lebanese…I am also Hungarian. My father's family came from Hungary. My grandmother, Susan, was the most marvelous baker. I think, like many other Eastern Europeans of her time, she spent her childhood at her mothers side learning how to cook and bake.  One of the things I remember most was her Strudel. She made the pastry herself and pulled it so thin, then filled it with apples and rolled it.  The strudel was so flaky and when you ate it, it melted in your mouth. My mother only tried a few times to make my grandmothers strudel.  She just didn't feel she had the touch. The one thing my mother did replicate was my grandmothers Poppy Seed and Walnut Rolls. They became a Christmas staple. So much a part of our Christmas tradition, that it wouldn't feel right without them. I have been making them since I was a young bride. We had moved away from my home state of NJ, and I wanted everything to feel like Christmas. I was worried about trying them because they called for yeast, and I had never worked with yeast before. I followed my mothers instructions and they actually came out great the very first time. One of the tricks my mom taught me is to proof my yeast. So, when you make these rolls, you want to put the yeast and warm water in a cup with the sugar. The sugar helps the yeast to proof. I had made these for a Christmas party and everyone just loved them. They are a wonderful pastry. I hope you give them a try!
My goal for the New Year is to try strudel. I have wanted to give this a try for a long time. I even have
a 'you-tube' demo with Rose Levy showing you the details of strudel making. One day this winter it's going to happen and I will post about it for better or worse!

                   Poppy Seed and Walnut Rolls

4 cups sifted flour
1 cup butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks ( beat slightly)
2 pkg. yeast
1 cup lukewarm water

In a cup or small bowl mix 1 cup of lukewarm water, 2 tablespoons sugar and the yeast. Stir to mix and let stand while mixing butter with flour and salt as for a pie. Make well in center of flour mixture and drop in the beaten egg yolks and yeast. Mix thoroughly with hands until dough leaves sides of bowl about 5 minutes of kneading. Place dough on lightly floured board. Cut dough into four pieces and let rest for about 15 minutes.  Roll each piece out and spread with filling. Roll up as for jelly roll. Place rolls on lightly greased baking sheets. Brush with egg whites and let rest for about 20 minutes. Bake at 400º for 20- 30 minutes. Loaves will be nicely browned.

Poppy Filling

1/2 lb. ground poppy seeds
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar

Heat milk, add poppy seeds stirring until milk is absorbed. Remove from heat and add sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
I buy the canned Solo poppy seed filling and add a few tablespoons of milk to thin it a bit.

Walnut Filling

1 lb. ground walnuts
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Prepare the nuts the same as the poppy seeds. If making four rolls of the same kind double the amounts for each mixture.

Yeast, warm water and sugar
Flour, salt and butter
Yeast and eggs poured into the center
kneaded dough
Ready to roll!
Spread with poppy seed filling
Rolled and ready to bake..brush with egg whites

Ready to make the walnut filling
Out of the oven cooling



  1. OMG! Your recipes are almost enough to make me move back to NJ so I can get my hands on your 'goodies'!!! I mean that in the nicest way of course. You know I'm not a great baker, I have my little things that I can make, but you have become a specialist, lovely food.

  2. Kathy

    You have such an interesting background! I have some European blood too as my grandmother was Croatian. She did not cook though so I learned the Lebanese traditions only. I have a certainty that one Lebanese secret specialty the tamrieh, is actually a strudel dough and I am planning to try making it at home in the next few weeks.