by | Dec 23, 2013 | Breads, buns & biscuits

Several legends circulate about the beigli’s origin, but it’s sure that it appeared in Hungary in the second half of the 19th century and since then there is no Christmas without this pastry. Its name comes from the German word beugen (=bend in English).

The beigli’s predecessor was probably the Silesian filled challach that was already known in the 16th century. Although it’s more likely that it emerged from the famous Bratislava horseshoe. The first Bratislava horseshoes filled with ground walnuts and poppy seeds were baked in 1559 and  became very popular abroad, too.

The two kinds of filling fit in the symbolism of Christmas perfectly because poppy seeds symbolize wealth and fertility, while walnuts protect against bewitching. Today there are many different fillings like chestnuts, marzipan, and even apple, coconut and hazelnut fillings can be found.

The most frequently asked question is whether beigli will split during the baking process. My answer is: there is a chance. After trying several versions, I can say there’s no “bombproof” recipe, which can guarantee that your beigli will be intact and undamaged. If you can’t bear the sight of a split beigli, I recommend that you should not make this pastry.

Beigli – photo:
Beigli – photo:


For the dough (for 4 rolls):

  • 500 g (~4 cups) flour
  • 250 g (~8 3/4 oz) cold butter, diced
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 70 g (~1/3 cup) sugar
  • 20 g (~3/4 oz) fresh yeast (2 tsp dry yeast)
  • 100 ml (~6 3/4 tbsp) lukewarm milk
  • pinch of salt

For the poppy seed filling (for 2 rolls):

  • 300 g (~10 1/2 oz) ground poppy seeds
  • 200 g (~1 cup) sugar
  • 200 ml (~3/4 cup) milk
  • 60 g (~1/3 cup) semolina
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 50 g (~1/3 cup) raisins soaked in water or quince paste cut into small pieces

For the walnut filling (for 2 rolls):

  • 300 g (~10 1/2 oz) ground walnuts
  • 150 g (~3/4 cup) sugar
  • 150 ml (~2/3 cup) milk
  • 60 g (~1/2 cup) semolina
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 50 g (~1/3 cup) raisins soaked in water or quince paste cut into small pieces

For the egg wash:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites

First prepare the 2 fillings one after the other because they must be cooled before you fill the dough. Bring milk with sugar to the boil, then add ground poppy seeds / walnuts, semolina, orange / lemon zest and raisins. Cook and stir until poppy seeds and walnuts soak up the liquid. Set aside and let them cool.

Dissolve yeast with a little sugar in lukewarm milk.

For the dough quickly rub butter into the flour in a bowl until the large butter pieces vanish and the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Rub butter and flour – photo:
After 3-4 minutes the mixture looks like breadcrumbs – photo:

Add salt, egg yolks, sugar and activated yeast and knead it until you get a smooth dough. If you prepare the rolls later, wrap and put the dough in the fridge to prevent butter from melting.

Add salt, egg yolks… – photo:
…sugar – photo:
… and activated yeast – photo:
After 2 minutes of kneading you get a smooth dough – photo:

Divide the dough into 4 equal balls. Roll the first ball out into a rectangular shape on a floured pastry board. Take the half of the poppy seed filling and spread it on the dough while leaving approx. 1-2 cm empty edges on each side.


Fold in the edges, then roll up the dough.


Place it in a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Now prepare the second poppy seed roll in the same way.

Repeat the above mentioned procedure in case of the 2 walnut rolls. Place them into another baking pan lined with parchment paper.

Separate the eggs. Set the egg whites aside.

Gently whisk the egg yolks by using a fork and brush the top of the rolls. Put them in a cool place for at least 5 hours to let the egg yolk dry and let the dough rise.

After the egg yolk has dried, gently whisk the egg whites and spread on the top of the rolls.

Prick the rolls on the top and on the sides by using a skewer in order to let off steam during baking.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/356°F and bake the rolls for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Let them cool completely before serving.

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  1. Regarding the beigli recipe. Are you not allowing some rising time for the dough?
    Fabulous website! So happy to find it. My mother was Hungarian and I spent a lot of time in Hungary. I have inherited many recipes but your website has certainly filled in the gaps. Thank you.

    • Hello Maxina, No, dough doesn’t have to rise before filling in this case because it spends a lot of time rising while the egg yolk, then the egg white is drying.

  2. Thank you so much for your kind reply to now what I realize is a stupid question if I read the rest of the recipe. 🙄 Fabulous website. THANK YOU!!!

  3. I am looking for a good Hungarian cook book
    Any suggestions

  4. Can the dough recipe easily be halved to make only 2 rolls, or will that effect the dough too much? Thanks!

    • Hi Isabel, You can halve the dough recipe, it won’t affect the quality in a negative way.

  5. Hello Eszter,
    Thanks a lot for sharing this recipe, it brings back my childhood memories! Can you specify how “cool” it should be, when we leave the rolls for 5 hours to let the yolk dry? Shall I put them in the fridge? Thanks!

    • Hi Inna, you don’t need to put them in the fridge if you have an unheated place, a pantry for example.

  6. Thank you so much for the prompt reply! I’m doing it right now!

Hungarian cottage cheese

This is what Hungarian túró looks like

You often ask me what kind of cottage cheese (or curd cheese or farmer's cheese - call it what you want) I use in the recipes. In Hungary the store-bought cottage cheese is dry and crumbly as you can see in the picture. So if a recipe calls for túró, I mean this type. If you can't obtain túró, you can try to make your own from whole milk. Click on the link below.

Metric system vs cup

In Hungary metric units are in use, all the recipes on this website are based on this system, so a kitchen scale is necessary. Since I’m not familiar with cup as a measurement unit, I convert grams to cups by using an online converter. The values in brackets, therefore, are only approximate volumes, so, please, double-check them before you start cooking.

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