Kalacs (Hungarian Sweet Bread)

Picture of Kalacs (Hungarian Sweet Bread)

No Hungarian Easter is complete without Kalacs!  This sweet, egg bread is filled with walnuts, or poppy seeds (if that's how you roll but I never understood the whole poppy seed thing).  The smell of this baking filled my grandmother's house during the holiday.  But there is no reason to limit making Kalacs to a particular season. It also makes a great addition to a brunch menu or just as an accompaniment to your coffee or tea!

This specific recipe is taken from my family's cookbook, compiled in 1999.  I made some minor edits to the attached page.  For a couple more traditional dishes, see:

Dobos Torte
Chicken Paprikas

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Step 1: Ingredients and Tools

Picture of Ingredients and Tools

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp salt
8 cups flour
1 1/2 pkg dry yeast
1 pint lukewarm milk

Walnut Filling
2 lbs walnuts (0.9 kgs), finely ground
3 cups sugar
Grated rind of one lemon
1 cup butter, melted

Materials and Tools
Food processor/chopper/coffee grinder - to grind nuts
Rolling pin
Baking Sheet
Foil or parchment paper
Measuring cups/spoons
Mixing bowls

Step 2: Make Dough

Picture of Make Dough
  1. Measure liquid into pan. Blend in butter, sugar and salt. Warm over low heat to 120 - 130oF (49 - 54oC)
  2. Measure half the flour into a mixing bowl and blend in dry yeast.
  3. Pour warmed mixture into flour/yeast mixture. Add eggs one at a time, beating 1/2 minute at low speed between each.  Scrap down sides of bowl. Switch mixer to high speed and continue beating for 3 minutes.
  4. Gradually add white flour until a soft dough is formed. Set aside in war place to rise to about double in size.
  5. Divide dough into 5 parts

Step 3: Walnut Filling

Picture of Walnut Filling

After grinding the walnuts, simply but thoroughly, mix them with the sugar and lemon rind.

Step 4: Roll Out and Up

Picture of Roll Out and Up

  1. Roll out each portion to about 9" x 12" (23 x 30 cm) rectangle
  2. Spread with two cups ground nuts
  3. Drizzle melted butter over nuts
  4. Roll up, folding under ends
  5. Place on a foil lined baking pan
  6. Let rest uncovered for about 20 minutes
JamesJ142 months ago

Just like my Grandmother's recipe except that the filling for ours uses six egg whites beaten to a meringue with the walnuts folded in instead of butter. We always had it at Christmas and saved a loaf to eat while watching the Rose Parade on New Years Day.

judy.d.stock2 months ago

Question: I'm guessing that you are rolling each loaf up starting on the long (12") side of the rectangle. Or are you rolling up, starting on the 9" side?

dahuszar3 months ago
I know it as kalacs from my grandmother. She made hers with pecans, as that was what was available to her in Louisiana.
Clacsi11 months ago

It's looks like bejgli (xmas sweet), not kalács. =/

EdwinaS Clacsi5 months ago

I know it as bejgli too :)

EdwinaS5 months ago

I was taught this recipe by grandma and she called it bejgli. Everyone loves it and I take it into work as a treat

minerug3 years ago
Made this today =). Delicious! The bread bit was nice and soft, while the walnut filling was just awesome!
annahowardshaw (author)  minerug3 years ago
That is awesome! So glad you enjoyed it...and that my directions were clear enough : )
Yeap! I added a touch of cinnamon to the walnut mix which turned out to be a good idea :)
abmat3 years ago
You could use the same recipe to make kiflis another Hungarian pastry. Instead of making a log. cut the dough into 4x4 inch squares. add a spoonful of filling to the center of each square. roll up the pastries from a corner to the one opposite. bend the roll into a crescent then brush and bake the same as the kalacs.
annahowardshaw (author)  abmat3 years ago
That's in the family cookbook too : )

That was on my list but I didn't get to it. Maybe someday...

smirnoff043 years ago
This looks absolutely delicious! Just to be clear, this recipe as written is for 5 loaves? I wonder if even one would make it to make freezer before getting eaten. ;)

Thanks for the recipe, Anna.
Great recipe. We've never made enough to make it into the freezer. Very Eastern European, similar to a Polish Makowiec. An 8 cup flour recipe makes about two loaves. We usually make ours with poppy seed filling or almond filling and a powdered sugar/water glaze. Using a can or can and a half of "Poppy Seed Filling" spread generously works quite well for each loaf. I've seen recipes for homemade poppy seed filling that has almonds and walnuts in it. For the poppy seed, I think it's more of a combination of the smell, texture and flavor of the poppy seed that I like over the almond filling. Also, I think the strain of Poppy plants in Eastern Europe is different than what we are using in the US.
ChrysN3 years ago
Yummm, my mom makes something like this with poppy seeds, sometimes just with nuts, it is so good.