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

Step 1: 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

  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

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

Step 4: 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

Step 5: Brush and Bake

Brush entire loaf with beaten egg and bake at 350oF (180oC) about 30 - 35 minutes, until golden brown.

Cool, cut and serve.  

Kalacs freezes really well, at least for 6 -8 weeks. So you can make a full recipe and keep a few loaves in the freezer for another occasion or unexpected company.



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    16 Discussions


    Reply 3 years ago

    Kalacs is the Hungarian word. Beigli is the German word. Like mine, your family may have been Germans who immigrated to Hungary many years ago and call themselves Hungarian after a couple generations like we call ourselves Americans now but refer to many food and customs in German. My hometown Visegrad in Hungary, was basically settled by many Germans so even the Hungarians started refering to German words. We also make Granadeer Marsch (not sure of spelling) which in Hungarian is Krumplis Teszta which would be potato pasta in English. Either way the dishes are delish. :)


    Reply 2 years ago

    Because Hungary is so close to Germany and Austria it shares many of the words, so bejgli (or beigli as I knew it) is still Hungarian. Kalacs is the sweet braided Easter bread (ex. http://www.mindmegette.hu/foszlos-fonott-kalacs.recept). The word here is from the Slavic word that sounds the same. It means wheel because the big kalacs used to be woven into a braided circle. Hungarians, like many European cultures, have borrowed many words and shared recipes with everyone else. It's what makes us so rich and diverse! Either way beigli and kalacs are two very different things BUT kalacs can also be used sometimes just to represent any sweet bread-like thing, like where a suti is a pastry a kalacs is a bready. (This can sometimes cause confusion.) But the proper kalacs, the namesake, is easter egg bread with raisins and the beigli is a roll with either poppy seed or walnut and raisins. Polish also have beigli (makowiec) (the Hungarian for poppyseed is mak--any relation in words I wonder?) as do the Russians and Ukrainians etc. So Beigli is not German it's just that it's one of the words Hungarians have borrowed. (Likewise, Germans make some dishes with the Hungarian name.) (Another thing often called Kalacs is darazs feszek which is my favourite thing ever!)


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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?


    4 years ago

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


    4 years ago on Introduction

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


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Made this today =). Delicious! The bread bit was nice and soft, while the walnut filling was just awesome!

    2 replies

    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.

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Yummm, my mom makes something like this with poppy seeds, sometimes just with nuts, it is so good.