This is not the Jewish challah. This is an egg-free, much more white, more fluffy version my Grandma used to bake for every Xmas and New Year. I wasn't sure whether I really liked it so much, or was it just the memories that made it so good.
Anyway, in our region this kalács, and not the "bejgli", is the typical Xmas treat, and I was looking for that particular taste..
In our village everybody makes "kalács" kinda the same way I cook: "I had this much milk for the purpose, so I added the required amount of yeast, and added as much flour as it took to make a soft dough".. But DON't ask for the recipe.. *Sigh*...
Noh, yeah, but my fingers are trained for the bread, "pulla" and "aranygaluska", so I was quite skeptic I'm gonna make any good kalács without some guidelines.
And I found some at Szellem a fazékban blog. Not so useful ones, after all, but it gave me courage to start :). In the recipe says 200 ml milk, but there is no way you can work that amount of flour together in a soft dough with that little amount of milk.. You can of course try, but when I saw that about 1/3 of my flour didn't even cling together with the rest, I just added another 100 ml milk, and a bit later another 50 ml, 'cause I didn't find the dough very soft. At the end of the day, it was still my fingers I used for measurement :) and forgot about the recipe, but I made it at least the same shape as in the recipe because it looked soooo great (isn't it?), regardless that this is not the traditional shape for a "kalács".
600 g flour (~1 liter or ~4 cups)
30 g fresh yeast, or 10 g dry yeast, about 2 heaped tsp
1/2 tsp salt
100 g icing sugar (3.5 ounce)
125 g butter (1cup)
350-400 ml hand warm milk, (1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups) depends how much the flour takes in to make an easy to work with dough, not sticky but not to hard either.
I used a bit more then 350 ml milk, and though it looked OK, it was hard to roll it out after 45 minutes raising. So, next time I will for sure use 400ml to make a bit softer dough.
Work it together in a smooth, easy to kneed dough (needs quite a bit of kneading to get enough air in it), and let it rise for 30-45 minutes, until the dough grows to about double size.
Divide the dough into 3 parts, roll it out in about 20x40 cm sheet, spread the filling, roll it on the longer edge and try to keep the length. If it shortens just roll it a bit thinner and longer.
Do the same with all three portions and make a nice braid to fit your tray.
Let it rise for another 20 minutes, spread some egg on top, or if you want to leave the eggs out completely then just a bit of water. Let it dry for a minute, or two.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 190 C (375 F) and bake it for 30 minutes on the upper racks. When ready wrap it into kitchen towels and let it cool for about 1 hour. Ready to be served with chocolate milk in the morning.
For the original shape just divide the dough into two, roll it out in a 20x25 cm rectangle, roll it up on the longer edge and place them in two 10x25 cm (preferably 10cm high) trays. Bake for 30 (20? I shell try) min.
100 g icing sugar (3.5 ounce)
100 g ground poppy seeds or walnut (3.5 ounce)
milk, enough to boil it in a soft cream
The filling is for 1 roll, you will need 3, adjust the amount based on whether you want 2 nut and 1 poppy seed, or 2 poppy seed and 1 nut, or all of them the same.
Boil them together for couple of minutes until they blend nicely in an easy to spread, creamy texture.
And one last thing!! If you have leftovers that are dry and you don't feel like eating them as such, beat one egg, (add two tablespoons of milk), dip the kalács slices in the egg and fry them in hot oil, for just couple of minutes, ~1/2 min a side. It is a sort of french toast. Sprinkle it with icing sugar, and tadam, you have a new, fresh breakfast/dessert reusing the leftovers.. It is yumi.
PS. In the pic you see the "kalács" with cocoa powder and cinnamon filling, something you can try as well.
And one secret :). To make the nice cocoa swirl like in the pic don't add cocoa powder straight to the whole amount of dough you want to be with cocoa. Take a large pinch of dough, add a tsp cocoa, work it together well. When the small pinch of dough is smooth, add it to the whole amount of though you wanna be dark, and kneed it together.