Seasonal Flavors: Nutroll

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If you’ve got four hours or so during December, you can make a few of these delicious holiday pastries. They hail from Eastern Europe, but everyone, no matter their ethnicity, made nutroll when I was young. I have six nutroll recipes, with all sorts of variation. One includes mashed potatoes in the dough. Now tell me, who has time to peel, boil and mash potatoes when you’re doing holiday baking? I never use this recipe!

This pastry is wonderful, enjoyed warm from the oven, or at room temperature.  If you can warm it in a toaster oven and spread a slice with butter, well, that’s the definition of heaven on a Christmas morning.

Here’s a warning: You must have access to a meat grinder to prepare the filling. Chopped nuts won’t do; you must grind them. You can use poppyseed filling instead of nuts, eliminating the need for a nut grinder, but really, who would rather have poppyseeds instead of ground nuts? Also, I had been attempting to make nutroll for about 30 years, and the result was admittedly mediocre. It never tasted as good as the Aunts’. And then I got a standing mixer with a dough hook. Until then, I had kneaded the dough by hand, and it was never anything special. But once I started kneading by machine, the pastry was velvety and delicious. The recipe below is an amalgamation of my six recipes, given to me by six different aunts.  I have yearly notes that attempt to correct my mistakes.  So here you are.  Making nutroll is a lot of work, therefore, I will not hold it against you if this is the month that you think, “Nice recipe, Denise, but no thanks.”

Nutroll

For the pastry

  • 1 ½  tsp yeast
  • ½ cup warm milk
  • ¾ cup butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 4 cups flour 

For the filling

  • 1 lb walnuts
  • 3 egg whites
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar
  • Enough milk to make a thick mixture; my recipe from Aunt Rose says it should be “rather sloppy”

Prepare the pastry 

Add the yeast to the warm milk and wait five minutes until the yeast begins to bubble.

Cream the butter and sugar. Add egg yolks and yeast/milk mixture. Add the salt and then gradually add the flour to form a soft dough. Knead for ten minutes by hand, or for five minutes using the dough hook of a standing mixer. The dough should be velvety smooth.

Cover with a tea towel, let rise in a warm place for an hour.

Assemble

Divide the dough into four parts and roll each into a rectangle, about 12 X 9 inches.  Spread the filling about ½ inch thick over the dough, to within a half inch of each side.  Carefully roll the long end, into a ‘jellyroll’ shape.  Place on a greased baking sheet, seam side down.  Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Bake at 3250F for 20-30 minutes until slightly brown.

When cool, sift confectioner sugar on top.  

Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until serving. Nutroll freezes well. 

When ready to serve, cut into ½ inch slices. 

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