Nut rolls are popular throughout Eastern Europe. Nut rolls are an essential part of Christmas celebrations across Pennsylvania (and other “Rust Belt” areas), especially areas where they were introduced by Central and Eastern European immigrants and widely adopted by other ethnic groups in the region.
Nut rolls are known under different names in different areas: Kolachi, potica, gubana, strucla, orechovnik, povitica and so on. But no matter what they’re named, they almost always make an appearance at weddings, Christmas, Easter, church and national holidays and on special occasions.
They may differ slightly in ingredients and amount of time needed to complete but they all share the same characteristics: Sweet dough wrapped around a luscious nut filling. This dough is often used to create poppy seed rolls, apricot rolls, or prune rolls, too. You can make your own filling or use store-bought fillings from can or jars found in the baking section, like “Baker’s” or “Solo” brands.
Many old family recipes make large numbers of rolls and can be labor-intensive, all-day affairs to turn them out. To make these very special treats more “cook friendly” and less time consuming, I have chosen this one-rise recipe to feature here.
This recipe makes TWO rolls making it a recipe that can be small family friendly and faster to complete from start to finish. It requires only ONE RISE rather than multiple rises cutting down dramatically on prep time.
One Rise Nut Rolls (and Poppy Seed)Course: DessertsCuisine: Eastern European, Coal RegionDifficulty: Intermediate
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons butter (softened)
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast (or rapid-rise dry yeast)
2 large eggs (room temperature, beaten)
- Nut Filling
1 pound walnuts (ground finely to a meal-like consistency)
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg (room temperature)
4 ounces butter
- Poppy Seed Filling
1/2 pound poppy seeds
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup hot milk
- In a large saucepan, warm sour cream (just enough for butter to melt when added and allow the mixture to cool down to 120F degrees). Remove from heat and stir in 3 tablespoons butter, 5 tablespoons sugar, baking soda and salt. Cool to 120F degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
- While sour cream mixture is cooling, in a large bowl, whisk together flour and yeast. Add eggs to cooled sour cream mixture and then transfer to flour-yeast mixture.
- Mix with hands until a sticky dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly to form a smooth ball. (Or mix in stand mixer and knead to smooth ball.)
- Cover with an overturned bowl or greased plastic wrap and let rest 10 minutes.
- The dough will be soft. Divide in half. Working with one piece of dough at a time and using as little extra flour as possible, roll to a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle. Spread with half of the filling leaving a 1/2 border along both short side edges and top long edge un-spread (to help with sealing).
- Fold the short side edges of the dough in slightly to hold in filling and then roll from the bottom up. Lightly pinch dough along long edge to seal seam. Place seam side down on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Allow to rise for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, covered with greased plastic, until light and slightly puffed.
- While rising, heat oven to 350F degrees.
- Bake 35 minutes. Let cool on pan 10 minutes, then transfer from sheet pan to a cooling rack to cool completely before cutting into slices.
- Wrap leftover tightly in foil or plastic wrap.
- Nut Filling
- In a medium nonstick saucepan, mix together walnuts, milk, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 egg and 4 ounces butter. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat and simmer on medium-low, stirring frequently (watch and stir carefully so the filling doesn’t burn), until mixture is thick.
- Cool completely before spreading on dough, but do not refrigerate or filling will become too firm to spread.
- Poppy Seed Filling
- Place poppy seeds into a food processor and process until seeds are ground, about 1 minute.
- Mix poppy seeds with 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon melted butter, lemon juice, and hot milk in a bowl; stir to combine.
- Cover poppy seed filling and refrigerate while making bread (filling will set up and thicken as it chills).
- You can make your own filling or use store-bought fillings from a can or jar found in the baking section, like “Baker’s” or “Solo” brands.