Growing up, I remember waking up to the sweet smell of my mother’s orahnjača (walnut roll). At bridal showers, I always gravitated towards the orahnjača on the desert table as it’s not too sweet, nor too heavy and it always goes nicely with a cup of coffee. However, my mother’s recipe is my all-time favourite.
My mother always insists on baking it first thing in the morning to let it rise properly. Whether or not that’s an old Croatian wives’ tale, or if my mother made that up, I can say with confidence that I baked this recipe in an afternoon with no issues. It didn’t turn out perfect and again (as noted in my previous post about sirnica/Easter bread,) I had to decipher my mother’s recipe as she only provided me with approximate steps and “about” increments. With some investigative work, a few FaceTime calls and a million questions to my mom, I was able to figure out her orahnjača recipe!
- 4-5 cups of bread flour (start with 4 cups and add more as needed)
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup of unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp of active dry yeast + 1 tbsp of sugar in 1 cup of warm water
- pinch of salt
- 5 yolks (separate egg whites and place in fridge for part 2)
- 1 whole egg
- 1 cup of warm milk
- 1 shot of Jamaican rum
- grated lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon
Part 2 (filling):
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- egg whites from previous part
- 3/4 of a pound of ground walnuts
- 1 shot of espresso
- Using the paddle attachment of your stand-up mixer, cream the sugar and unsalted butter together on a low speed.
- Add egg yolks, one by one, while mixing.
- Add the whole egg.
- Slowly add your flour on a low speed (I use speed 1 on my Cuisanart mixer).
- Slowly pour the warm milk in while mixing.
- Slowly add your yeast mixture in.
- Add the rum and lemon zest and juice to the mixture.
- Once thoroughly mixed, switch the paddle attachment and insert your dough hook and continue on a low speed (at this point I turn the dial to speed 2) until the mixture becomes a little tacky (you don’t want it to be too sticky or too firm; so add more flour or warm milk as needed).
- Once the dough has thoroughly mixed, take the dough and knead it on a floured surface for about 10-15 minutes into a ball.
- Place the dough ball into a large bowl, cover with a wash cloth and let rest in a warm oven for about 2 hours.
- Remove dough from oven and on a floured surface, take your dough and cut into two halves. Take both parts and roll into two separate dough balls. Then place the dough balls into two separate bowls, cover each bowl with wash cloths and place in warm oven again to rise for about 30 minutes.
- While dough is rising for the second time; take your ingredients from part two (sugar, egg whites, ground walnuts and espresso) into a medium-size bowl and mix with a spatula.
- Remove dough from oven after it has risen for a second time.
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees C.
- Roll each dough ball into a long flat oval or rectangle (does not have to be a perfect shape)
- Then with a spatula, spread the walnut mixture on your flattened dough.
- Gently take the edge of the dough and roll (you can also place the dough on a table cloth and pull the table cloth to roll it).
- Repeat steps 16-17 on the second dough ball.
- Place each roll into a bread pan OR you can place each roll on a cookie sheet.
- Cover your bread pans or cookie sheet with tin foil and place in the oven and bake covered for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown (use a toothpick test to determine if it is done baking), for an additional 25-35 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let rest for on a cooling rack about 30 minutes to an hour as the mixture is hot and can leak if you cut right away.
- Enjoy and serve with coffee! Dobar tek!