Hungarian Beigli

by Doc-G on April 17, 2014

This is another recipe from my father and it has been a staple in my parents house ever since I can remember. My father always makes this at Christmas and Easter when it is traditionally served in Hungary. Beigli is also popular in various other cultures too including those in Central and Eastern Europe as well as Israel where it goes by a variety of different names according to the culture and the respective language. When I was younger, Beigli was not my favourite of my father’s sweet dishes. I usually opted for Vanilla Kifli for which you can find a recipe here: However, as I got older, I gradually started to eat first the Walnut version and later the Poppy seed one. Whilst I still prefer the Walnut version, I still very much enjoy the Poppy seed one and visually find the poppy seed version much more striking in appearance.

A feature of this dish is the propensity for cracks to appear on top after baking. Technically, I think it is something to do with moisture in the centre of the cake and the tendency for the outside to cook more quickly than the inside but after many different variations on the cooking method, we still don’t think we have found the exact cause. Any feedback from readers would be greatly appreciated.

Of all the recipes on this site, this is one of those that most clearly represents my culture, my upbringing and my personality. I hope therefore that you will make it and enjoy it!


1 Poppy Seed and 1 Walnut (or Almond) Beigli (Roll) of each will make approximately 12 slices.

Sour Cream Pastry
400g Plain Flour
150g Unsalted Butter or 130g Lard
10g Fresh Yeast
2tbsp Fresh Milk (room temperature)
Pinch of Salt
100ml Sour Cream

Walnut (or Almond) Filling
150g White Sugar
50ml Milk
200g Ground Walnuts or Almond
Finely grated rind from one Lemon
2-3 tbsp Apricot Jam OR 1 pared and grated Granny Smith Apples

Poppy Seed Filling
150g White Sugar
50ml tbsp Milk
200g Ground Poppy Seeds
Finely Chopped rind from one Lemon
2-3 tbsp Apricot Jam OR 1 pared and grated Granny Smith Apples

To make the pastry, first mix the flour and salt and in a separate bowl, mix the yeast and the milk. Leave the yeast in a warm’ish place to allow the yeast to activate (it should start to bubble a little). Rub the butter with the flour and salt to make a mixture of ‘breadcrumb’ consistency and then mix in the yeast and sour cream mixture. Combine to form a dough that comes together and doesn’t ‘stick too easily to your hands’. Cut the pastry in two and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until ready to use.

For the Fillings:
Walnut (or Almond): In a saucepan make a syrup by heating the milk and the sugar together (ensuring you dont burn the milk!). Then add the Walnuts or Almond and stir until combined. Take off the head and mix in the lemon rind and Jam or Apple and allow to cool.

Poppy seed: In a saucepan make a syrup by heating the milk and the sugar together (ensuring you dont burn the milk!). Then add the ground Poppy seeds and stir until combined. Take off the head and mix in the lemon rind and Jam or Apple and allow to cool.

To make the Beigli, roll out the pastry to a square roughly 30-32cm long on each side. Spread one of the filling mixtures over the pastry and leave a 5cm edge on one side. Roll the pastry and filling (starting on the opposite side to your empty edge!) into a large roll. Tuck the edges up on each end of the roll and ensure the 5cm edge seals up the ‘seam’ of the roll. Place each in a greased or non-stick baking tray ensuring that the ‘seam’ is facing down on the bottom of the tray and that there is at least 5-8cm space between each roll (as they will flatten in the oven). Rest the rolls for 15 minutes and then brush the rolls with a little beaten egg and using a fork, pierce the roll in a few places (which allows some steam out during the cooking process). Allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes and brush again with the beaten egg and rest another 15 minutes.

Put the rolls into a pre-heated oven at 160 degrees centigrade for 15 minutes and then turn up the heat to 180 degrees centigrade to bake for a further 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before slicing and enjoying with a good quality cup of coffee.



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