This European Nut Roll with Three Fillings is a recipe long in my family. My parents were from the former Yugoslavia and every household had their own version of the nut roll. Nut rolls are especially popular during holidays and celebrations in Central Europe.
This enriched yeast dough with lots of butter and eggs is the easiest dough of its kind I have ever worked with. When you roll it out there is absolutely no recalcitrance or spring back when rolling out the dough. I recommend you make the dough a day, or several days, ahead and work it cold. It truly is a joy.
The almond filling was the favorite in our house. In fact, to this day, I mail the Almond European Nut Roll to my son in Los Angeles for his birthday and Christmas. It travels well and stays moist for days. This filling is uncooked whereas the walnut and poppy seed fillings are the traditional cooked versions from Europe. Europeans cook their fillings a lot, where here we combine the nuts and sugar, rarely cooking them. Both ways are wonderful.
Poppy seeds are very popular in the old world and rarely used here as a filling. In the states we find them mostly on rolls and bagels, or scattered in cakes and teacakes. They add crunch and texture to baked goods. Blue poppy seeds, grown in various parts of the world, are deemed to be sweeter and used for baking. However, most poppy seed is unmarked as to origin so it can be difficult to tell. The blues are also considerably more expensive than regular poppy seed. I used poppy seed with no other description on the bottle.
It is important when making the filling to crack the poppy seeds to release their oil. I put mine in the processor and processed them until I could see they had turned a darker color which happens from the release of the oil. It did take a bit of processing to get to that point so don’t be discouraged.
One last thing - it is important to have a high ratio of any of the fillings to dough as you can see above. It's what makes these the wonder they are!
European Nut Roll Dough
½ cup milk
¼ cup sugar (50 grams or 1 ¾ ounces)
½ cup unsalted butter (114 grams, 4 ounces or 1 stick)
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast (7 grams, ¼ ounce or 1 package)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Zest from ½ large lemon
2 ½ cups bread flour* (350 grams or 12 ¼ ounces)
All purpose flour can be substiuted but the dough will not rise as much.
Heat milk to simmering. Add the sugar, butter and salt. Stir to dissolve; cool to lukewarm. You can speed this up by transferring the hot mixture to the mixing bowl right away.
Whisk the egg, egg yolk, yeast, vanilla and lemon zest into milk mixture.
Add half the flour and beat until smooth.
Add the remaining flour; beat until smooth and it cleans the sides of the bowl. Knead in the bowl for 3 to 5 minutes. Because the dough climbs the dough hook, I stop about half way through and turn the dough, removing that stuck on the dough hook so the dough on top is now on the bottom of the mixing bowl to get evenly kneaded.
Remove from the machine and place in a large, greased container at least 2 ½ to 3 times larger than the dough. Turn the dough immediately to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and mark the time on it. Let it rise until it is doubled in bulk, about 1 ½ hours. Punch it down and use immediately or refrigerate up to 3 days. It is easiest to roll if refrigerated.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Roll the dough into a 13x14 inch rectangle; spread one of the fillings below to within ½” of all of the edges. Brush the edges with water. Roll up tightly from the 14” side. Pinch the bottom seam together.
Pinch the side edges together to seal them extending them outward slightly. Wet the underside of the extension and tuck it underneath. Place on the prepared pan. Cover and allow to double, about 1 ½ hours.
Egg Wash and Baking
Beat egg until the yolk and white are completely mixed.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush with egg wash twice; bake for 35 to 40 minutes until deeply browned. Cool.
Almond Filling for the European Nut Roll
6 ounces almonds (170 grams)
1 ⅓ cups powdered sugar (170 or 6 ounces)
½ cup unsalted butter, refrigerated (114 grams or 4 ounces)
2 tablespoons egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 7 to 10 minutes or until medium brown, stirring half way through. Cool completely.
Place the almonds in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add the powdered sugar and process again. Cut the butter into pieces and place in a circle over the dry ingredients. Process until the butter is indistinguishable.
Beat the egg white with a fork until foamy. Add 2 tablespoons of it and vanilla; process. It will never be completely smooth because of the almonds. But it will be smoother.
¾ pound walnuts (340 grams)
¾ cup sugar (150 grams or 5 ⅓ ounces)
1 stick butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine nuts and sugar in processor bowl. Process to chop the nuts very finely. Add the butter; process until indistinguishable. Add the egg and process until smooth.
Empty into a heavy saucepan and add the remaining ingredients; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly for 10 to 15 minutes until a spoon can be drawn through it and it stays separated. Remove from the heat and cool.
To quick cool, spread it thinly in a single layer on a baking sheet. If you're really in a hurry, refrigerate it.
Poppy Seed Filling
8 ounces poppy seeds (225 grams)
½ cup milk
½ cup sugar (100 grams or 3 ½ ounces)
7 tablespoons butter (100 grams or 3 ½ ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon dark rum, optional
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Zest from 1 lemon
Place the poppy seeds in a food processor or small grinder. Process them until they crack and become darker and oily looking.
Mix the poppy seeds and the remaining ingredients in a heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring constantly, 10 to 15 minutes until it becomes very thick. Cool completely. See above for quick cooling method.
To Make Ahead: The dough may be made and refrigerated up to 3 days ahead. Use immediately upon removing from the refrigerator. The fillings may be made and refrigerated up to 3 days ahead. Bring to room temperature before using.
These freeze extremely well. After baking, cool and wrap well in foil; place in a freezer proof bag and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature. I usually preheat the oven to 350°F then wrap the European Nut Roll in foil, leaving a small opening at top. Heat for about 20 minutes to refresh.
Storage: Covered or wrapped in plastic wrap, these keep for up to 5 days at room temperature.
Take a look at these too - perfect for the holidays
Ruth Martin says
How do I print the European nut roll recipe from your website?
Helen S Fletcher says
Hi Ruth, go to the very bottom of the recipe just above the photos of "More Sweet Bread" and there is a "Print" button. Click on that and it will take you to a page to print the recipe out.
Made the Poppyseed version yesterday and it was fabulous. Just like the Jewish bakeries used to make them in Winnipeg. Many thanks Helen!
Here's a couple of tips that may be useful to other bakers: Soaking poppyseed overnight in 1/2 cup milk softens the outer hull slightly, so that grinding them in the food processor the next day is much easier.
Secondly, if you place the roll on the prepared baking sheet diagonally it will have a bit more room to spread out. It is a fairly slack dough and I found it needs some room to spread.
Hope this is helpful!
Hi Sam - thanks so much for this. Now that you mention it, I remember my mother soaking the poppyseed in milk. Not sure why your dough was slack. As you can see in the pictures mine as never been. But as long as it came out and brought you good memories, that's all I care about. Take care and be safe.
Kathy Parathyras says
Hi again Helen, Today I am making the walnut filling. lt has taken more than half an hour of stirring to get to the point you described. (where a spoon can be drawn through it). Do you think I was simmering it too low?
Kathy Parathyras says
Also, when the mixture was cool, I had to pour off a great amount of oil. Not sure if the oil was from the nuts or the butter. After spreading it, I ended up blotting up a good deal of the oil with several paper towels. Is it normal to have a lot of oil rising to the top of the nut mixture? Just wondering what I am doing wrong.
Hi Kathy, Yes the heat was too low. It should have stayed at a simmer which is why you stand there and stir it because it will burn otherwise. It can take about 15 minutes or so. That would also account for the oil leaching out of the butter. I think you probably over cooked it. You can see in the photo of the quick cooling filling, mine is thick but not stiff if that makes sense. Hopefully the rest went well and it will still be good.
Kathy A Parathyras says
Thanks, Helen! Happy New Year!
Where do I purchase bulk poppy seed
I suggest you google bulk poppy seed and see what comes up. I don't buy poppyseed except for small bottles.
Hi Beverly, Penzy's has poppy seed. Pricing wise you might do better online.
Hello. Do you think there is a way to make this recipe keto friendly, either using coconut or almond flour and swerve sweetener or monk fruit sweetener?
Hi Kira - Sorry I'm no help here. I know nothing about Keto baking.
Bonnie Langseth says
My Uncles Mother taught me recipe for Nut Povitica (or Hunky Bread) she was from Yugoslavia and one was Nut & Cinnamon & one was made with Pineapple & Cottage Cheese for breakfast no yeast in breakfast one.
I would love to talk to you please email me
Hi Bonnie, just email me at [email protected]
My grandmother always made poppyseed bread and unfortunately never wrote anything down. I am soooo excited to try this roll recipe..hoping it's very similar to hers
Merry Christmas and here's to 2021 filled with all the best it can offer.
Hello Cynthia. This was definitely a grandmother recipe. But also my mother made them. I am so happy to have shared this. I never realized so many people were looking for it. Merry Christmas to you also and I have to believe that 2021 will be a better year for all of us everywhere.
These look incredible. I can't wait to try them, but I can't figure out how to print the recipe. Thanks.
Hi Marlene - thank you. Go to the very bottom of the recipe under the pictures of the other posts and click on the
"print without pictures" button.
No sugar or eggs in the poppyseed filling?
Thanks so much Lynn. No matter how many times I read through, something can go amiss. I have correct the recipe to say 1/2 cup or 100 grams or 3 1/2 ounces sugar. There are no eggs in the poppyseed filling.
Kathy Parathyras says
Hi Helen, My mom used to make something just like this and I am going to try it for Christmas day. Is instant yeast the same as RapidRise by Fleischmann's? Or would I just buy the regular active dry yeast? Thanks and Merry Christmas!!
Hi Kathy, Instant yeast is sold under the name instant yeast, bread flour yeast or yeast for bread machines, and rapid rise. So happy you're going make it. It's really easy and you might just start a new tradition.
Eileen Murphy says
Helen, well thank you so very much! Many years ago, for years, we had a repeat holiday guest whose wife worked Thanksgiving and Christmas. He would bring these as a gift, but I guess he really loved them because any that were not sliced he would quickly scoop up and spirit away along with any remnants we could get. His wife was of Polish extraction and I believe she would travel to her home town of Scranton PA to purchase them. I expect they will make a return to my holiday table. Wishing you and yours a safe, blessed Christmas.
Hi Eileen, so good to hear from you. Yes, nut rolls are huge in Poland. I do hope you get a chance to make one. As I said, this is the easiest enriched dough I have ever worked with. My mother and grandmother were talented bakers and cooks to whom I owe so much. I am happy to be able to share this with everybody.
Thanks for these, the nut rolls look so good. I am going to look for bulk poppy seeds somewhere to make that one. My mother in law used to make blanket letters with almond filling for the holidays but used almond paste.
Hope you have a wonderful holiday.
Hi M.J. Go online. There are several places there. This is one of the best almond fillings ever.
Helen, A few months back you published a recipe for shortbread made in decorative molds I finally got the molds but cannot find your recipe. When I push the menu button on your site nothing happens. Is there a search button on the site? Thank you.
Hi Nancy. That wasn't me. If you google "shortbread cookies in molds" you can probably find it. I just did and there are numerous recipes including from Martha Stewart, Bake from Scratch, and King Arthur. Also, I don't have a menu button but I do have a Recipes List at the top of the blog just under my logo. I just clicked on it and it seems to be working fine. Also, at the top of the second column from the right is a search box. Hope this helps.
Tim soen says
My family's recipe is from Slovakia and there's a couple differences. There's sour cream and more yolks and butter in the dough. Walnut filling isnt precooked. Vanilla only goes in the nut filling. And nearly all copies of the recipe are written down incomplete. I don't know if it's protecting the family secrets, but it's always the case.
Hi Tim - we had a joke in our house. One member of my family would always leave an ingredient out or change a measurement to make sure that the recipe would not come out as good as hers. We all knew it. Anyway, there are a huge number of variations, probably one for every household that makes this. Merry Christmas to you.
These look simply wonderful, as usual.
Its a chilly Monday, the shortest day of the year that has been a challenge for many.
For whoever is reading this...particularly the lovely Helen and her family, a Happy Christmas...and a healthy fulfilled New Year.
Janet & Flora the kitty, Tier 3 in this Covid ravaged UK.
Hello Janet, We have all be ravaged by this year and so many are just hanging on to sanity. But there is hope both here in the States and in the UK. I wish you and Flora peace and hope for Christmas and a much better, safer New Year. You have been with me a long time Janet and I cherish that. Keep yourself safe and thank you for thinking of me.
Karen McCreary says
Dear Helen , My eyes filled with tears of joy when I saw these wonderfully complete recipes thar I've been looking for for many yrs . HOW-TO and recipes are perfection !! My MIL made these but no real recipes and esp. no fillings ! What joy to have the very thing she made in front of my eyes . Thank you so much . Blessings for you and your family . I love your posts ! Karen McCreary Plano, TX.
Thank you Karen - My mother left me some of the most prized recipes from her mother who never wrote anything down. The response to this blog has been enormous. It makes me so happy I posted it. I hope your holidays will be happy in this worst of all years and that your new year will be filled with health, peace and happiness.