In less than a month we are to start our journey across the world. That always means visiting our family. We are all looking forward to it and we all have our reasons. The youngest one is mostly looking forward to the love and attention (gifts included) that he receives from everyone in immense quantities. The rest of the family, which are the two parents, are glad to provide the above mentioned happiness to the young one and indulge the grandparents with the presence of their grandchild. But don’t think that this is a sacrifice to us, as we, the parents, have our own little moments that make this time special. They mainly include wondering through the city, remembering and reliving our past, or making new adventures and stories with our son. There is a whole list of things to do but I am mostly looking forward to the slow pace of the days that any holiday should provide: short and long walks, time together, good food and small treats. Which brings me to the subject of this post. May not be a small one but it’s certainly a treat!
Walnut and raisin swirl bread is one of the famous desserts from back home. That means that it is known among many Balkan countries, as well as Germany, Austria and a few more. It is called Strudla, Strudel, Zavitek… or as we here know it: Swirl Bread (which I like for its descriptive name). One can buy it in any bakery or patisserie across the country but the homemade ones are always the best! Like many other well known recipes, and the same rule applies for this one, every household has a family recipe and claims that it’s the best one. So far I’ve tested a few, all good no doubt but one enjoyed the most always reminds me that it’s my favourite. It’s the one my mother-in-law makes! What makes it the best are not just the ingredients. It’s made with care and love for her family and those are the magic ingredients that you can find only in homemade treats. She gave me the recipe and I follow it with all my heart. I can only hope that my family enjoys is as much as I enjoy baking it for them.
Walnut and raisin swirl bread
500 gr plain flour
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
125 ml warm milk
125 ml warm water
100 gr very soft (room temperature) unsalted butter
For the filling:
100 gr ground walnuts
3 tablespoons milk
50 gr sugar
50 gr raisins
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Add the flour, yeast, sugar and the salt in a stand mixer bowl. Use a dough hook to mix all ingredients.
Combine the milk and water in a measuring cup. Make sure you warm them up to approximately 50-55C (too hot to dip your finger in it), which is slightly warmer than you need. Add the egg and whisk all together. The egg will cool down milk and water mixture.
Pour liquid mixture into the stand mixer bowl with flour in it and kneed for 5-6 minutes or until you get a nice and smooth dough. Cover with clear wrap or kitchen towel and let it rise for an hour or until is doubled in size.
This dough is very easy to work with, which is rather good as the work is not done yet.
Place the dough on the lightly floured working bench and roll it into a 20×30 cm rectangular shape. Spread approximately 1/3 of butter on top and fold a short half of the dough only half way through and then fold the other half on top of it. You will get a rectangular shape approximately 20×15 cm. Take the longer ends and fold them the same way making again a rectangular shape 10×15 cm, which will make one very chubby peace of dough.
Roll the dough again into a 20×30 cm rectangular shape and repeat the whole process 2 more times. This way you are incorporating butter into your dough, making layers which will help you bake a wonderful swirl bread. So, it looks like you have to use a bit of an old fashion baker’s technique here, but it pays off so much that you wouldn’t want to do it any other way.
Mix walnut meal, sugar, cinnamon and milk in a small bowl.
When you are done with making a perfect strudel base and you have rolled your dough back to a 20×30 cm rectangular shape, spread walnut and cinnamon mixture on top and sprinkle with sultanas.
Roll the dough, starting from the shorter edge. Transfer the dough into a greased baking tin and let it rise for another hour.
Brush with milk and bake at 180C for 45 minutes or until it’s golden brown.