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My grandmother’s Holiday Nut Roll

My grandmother and many other eastern Europeans made this dense, rich pastry for special occasions. What it lacks in expensive ingredients (a century ago, nuts could be grown or gathered) it makes up for in labor (love). Don’t be intimidated by yeast – just follow the instructions and all will be well.
3 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 envelope dry yeast
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar[1]
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
Mix ½ cup of the flour with the baking powder and yeast in a large bowl.
Heat the milk, sugar, butter, and salt until warm and butter is almost melted. Add this mixture to the bowl and beat for three minutes on medium. Add the egg and beat for 30 seconds on low. Stir in the rest of the flour. The dough should be soft. Turn on a lightly floured or stone surface and knead for 6-8 minutes. Grease the bowl and put the dough back into it. Cover and wait one hour or until double in size.
2 ½ cups ground walnuts (a personal blender or coffee grinder works if you don’t have a food processor)
1 beaten egg[2]
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla
Mix all ingredients thoroughly.
Roll dough into a large square approximately 20” wide. Spread filling on the dough one inch from the edges. Moisten one edge with water and roll into a log. Seal the ends by pinching them shut. Place on a greased cookie sheet, cover, and let rise for 45 minutes.
Brush top with beaten egg. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.
[1] An aunt declared it to be “Perfect!”but my mother remembers a slightly sweeter dough, so you could add a tablespoon or two more sugar.
[2] The handwritten recipe I inherited places the beaten egg here, so I put it in my filling and used another egg to wash the roll before baking. It didn’t seem to hurt the filling or the finished product.

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