Getting prepared for Christmas Vol.2. : bejgli

bejgli from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen

bejgli from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchenThis winter lacks on snow so far. Áron is happy about the fact because he doesn’t like shovelling snow, but I am dreaming about the romantic snowy landscape of Bakony mountain not taking into consideration the traffic difficulties that it might cause. Instead of snow there are cold, windy days and mornings with hoar frost. It is difficult to leave the cosy warmth of the tile stove but working outside can warm you up as well and I am so glad to see the beautiful circles I draw from fallen leaves around the trees. Meanwhile my dog is running around in the garden not caring about cold or frost with her toy, a rubber chicken in her mouth which she often drops into the middle of my nicely arranged circles.

bejgli from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen bejgli from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen
In the Christmas baking serie I started last week I continue by baking bejgli, a traditional Hungarian Christmas cake filled with poppy-seed and walnut cream. Being a trained chef having working experience as a pastry chef in Spain there are only a few recipes which can stress me or shake my confidence. Bejgli belongs to these few exceptions. My mother bakes it every year and so far I didn’t take the courage to make it. Until now. I knew I wanted to bake it for you for this blog post so I was getting ready emotionally for this day. I knew it will taste good, I didn’t have any doubt about it. But what if the crust breaks in the middle? Because this is the thing our mothers and grandmothers were mostly afraid of. If you make a mistake the crust can break and the filling will spread out. Which is not a big problem, if you have a nice family because most probably they won’t care about the appearance. But I have to take photos… On the top of it I realise when I start breaking our walnuts, that this harvest went bad because of an illness. My neighbour, Ani saves me with a little bag of walnut so I can start preparing the feared Christmas cake, bejgli.
The devil is in the details – which is completely truth in case of difficult recipes. Thanks to my I mother I take the obstacles quite well and finally I am sitting in front of the oven, using a spot light to try to find out whether any of the bejgli was broken. With a huge relief I take out the baking pan with the three cakes in perfect shape, not broken, beautiful golden brown. However an accident happens to the last one. While resting on the garden table outside (you have to cool it down before baking, you will see in the recipe) a sudden wind covers the bejgli with baking paper. Even if I remove it, the bejgli breaks at that point. “Don’t worry, we will eat it up anyway- Áron says and after that a half of the cake will disappear that night in a mysterious way. We are still seeking after it, and we suspect our dog, or maybe the rubber chicken…
PS: I tried to write the recipe as detailed and precisely as I could in order to assure your success with it! But be careful with sudden wind….and dogs and rubber chickens!

Bejgli filled with walnut and poppy-seed cream
(4 cakes)
Ingredients:
For the dough:
500 g flour
250 g butter or margarine
100 ml sour cream
2+2 eggs (2 whole eggs into the dough, 1 whole egg and 1 egg white for brushing)
50 g confectioner’s sugar
20 g fresh yeast
1 pinch of salt

Walnut filling:
150 g ground walnut
100 g sugar
25 g fine bread crumbs
20 g raisins chopped
grated lemon zest (1/2 lemon)
100 ml water

Poppy-seed filling:
150 g ground poppy-seed
100 g sugar
100 ml milk
1 package of vanilla sugar
grated lemon zest (1/2 lemon)
25 g semolina

First of all, prepare the two fillings so they can cool down. To make the walnut cream, bring the water to boil in a saucepan, add sugar and stir until dissolves. Add walnut, raisins, fine bread crumbs and finally lemon zest. Cook it for a few minutes and let it cool down. If the cream is too thick, add some milk, but basically it shouldn’t be too thin otherwise it will runs out during the baking process or the cake will break.
To make the poppy-seed filling bring the milk to boil in a saucepan, add semolina, poppy-seed than finally sugar and lemon zest. Let it cool down.
To make the dough warm half of the sour cream lightly so it is lukewarm when you add yeast. Dissolve one teaspoon of sugar in it and add yeast. Cover it for 5 minutes and let it rise. Beat the two eggs until they get foamy. Mix flour and butter (I used to grate butter because it is easier to mix it with flour this way) than add yeast, the rest of sugar, sour cream, salt and beaten eggs. Knead it until you get a flexible, plain dough. Cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rest for 2 hours. After that divide the dough into 4 equal parts (they will weigh approximately 250 g each). Roll each piece into a rectangular. Leaving 2 cm on the sides spread the filling over it. Use half portion of filling to one cake, so you will have two bejgli with walnut filling, two bejgli with poppy-seed filling. Roll it up and close ends by folding the dough beneath. Lay each one on a baking pan lined with paper and brush them with the beaten whole egg. Let it rest in a warm place for 1 hour. Than brush them with egg white (you don’t need to beat it) and put the baking pan to a cold place (if you have cold winter, you can put it outside just be careful with animals! ) Because of the cold your bejgli will get that beautiful marble effect that it is famous for. Meanwhile preheat the even to 200 °C (in case of convection oven 170-180 °C) . Pick the sides of your begli with a fork and bake it until it gets a nice brown colour (approximately 25-30 minutes) Be careful, don’t open the oven if possible only first when it is ready because it is a sensible dough.bejgli from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchenbejgli from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen bejgli from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchenbejgli from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchenbejgli from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchenbejgli from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen bejgli from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen bejgli from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchenbejgli from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen bejgli from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen bejgli from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchenbejgli from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen bejgli from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen bejgli from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen

Judit Neubauer

Judit Neubauer

Judit Neubauer is a food photographer, chef and writer living in a small village in Northwestern Hungary. Her bilingual blog, Taste of Memories is about life in the Hungarian countryside. While she is bringing new life into the 90 year-old house and orchard of 18 fruit trees she cooks and bakes her family’s old recipes and tries to preserve traditions and old knowledge about how to live in rhythm and harmony with nature.

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