Swirls. I’m a big fan of them. I like the swirl of park benches and chimney smoke. I’m fond of swirly signatures, too. When I doodle, I make swirlies. But my favorite swirl of all is a Hungarian one. And the best part is that you can eat it. This delectable swirl can be found in the center of the most famous Hungarian Christmas pastry called beigli. Beigli commonly comes in two types: poppy seed and walnut. Most Hungarians couldn’t imagine Christmas without it.
Today in Budapest we’re having our first snow of the year. As the snowflakes swirl outside my window, I think I’m going to try making my very first beigli. It’s the perfect weather for it. If you’d like to join me, here’s the recipe. Happy swirling!
For the dough: 1 tsp sugar; 1/2 cup/120 ml milk; 1 cake/15 g compressed yeast; 1/3 cup/50 g confectioners’ sugar; 3 1/4 cups/500 g flour; 6 1/2 tbsp/100 g butter; 6 1/2 tbsp/100 g lard; 2 eggs; 1 tsp grated lemon zest; pinch of salt; 1 sachet of vanilla sugar
For the poppy seed filling: scant 1/2 cup/100 ml milk; 1 1/4 cups/250 g confectioners’ sugar; 1 sachet of vanilla sugar; 1 2/3 cups/250 g ground poppy seeds; 3 tbsp/30 g raisins; 1 tsp grated lemon zest; 4 tbsp honey
Directions: Dissolve the sugar in the lukewarm milk, then add the yeast. Mix the remaining dough ingredients with the yeast mixture and knead thoroughly. Cover the dough with a dish towel and leave to rise for about 30 minutes. For the poppy seed filling, mix the milk with the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla sugar. Bring to a boil and add the poppy seeds and raisins. Simmer for a few minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and honey. Divide the dough into four and roll out each piece into a rectangle measuring about 12 x 14 inches/30 x 35 cm. Spread the filling on the dough and roll up lengthwise, ensuring that the rolls remain firm. Grease the bking sheet and carefully transfer the rolls onto the sheet and brush with egg yolk. Bake in a preheated (medium) oven until golden brown. Only remove from the oven when completely cool. If kept covered and stored in a cool, dry place, the beigli will stay fresh for a long time. Slice just before serving. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.