Greek Walnut and Currant Rolls

According to scholar and writer Nicholas Stavroulakis in the Cookbook of the Jews of Greece, it was the custom in certain communities in Greece to celebrate the end of Passover by making rolls studded with walnuts and dried currants. (A fast-moving dough is needed, because the idea was to eat chametz, “leavened bread,” as soon as possible after sundown, and a churek dough makes a perfect choice.) Although the daintiness of currants—which are actually a kind of small raisin called Zante—is very attractive in these small rolls, raisins could be substituted. I use a very generous amount of currants and walnuts, which makes for dense rolls; if you prefer lighter rolls with less fruit and nuts, halve the amounts of currants and walnuts.–Maggie Glezer

LC How Cute! Note

We REALLY wish you could see these rolls. How cute!

Walnuts and Currant Rolls Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 4 H, 30 M
  • Makes 24 rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • About 4 1/4 cups bread flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1 1/4 cups currants
  • 1 1/2 cups walnut pieces
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 for glazing
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons table salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil, plus more for the baking sheets

Directions

  • 1. In a large bowl, whisk together the yeast and 1 1/4 cups flour, then whisk in the warm water until smooth. Let the slurry stand, uncovered, for 10 to 20 minutes, or until it begins to foam and puff up slightly.
  • 2. While the yeast mixture is fermenting, swish the currants around in a bowl of warm water, then drain in a strainer. Pat with paper towels to absorb any excess water. Coarsely chop the walnuts so they are the same size as the currants.
  • 3. Whisk the whole egg, yolk, salt, and oil into the yeast mixture until smooth. With your hands or a wooden spoon, stir in the remaining 3 cups flour all at once. When the mixture forms a shaggy ball, scrape it onto your work surface and knead it until it is well mixed, fairly smooth, and soft, which should take no more than 10 minutes. The dough should feel soft, stick to itself but not to the work surface, and be easy to knead. If the dough feels too firm, add a tablespoon or two water; if it seems too wet, add up to a few tablespoons flour. (A word to the wise: Fill the mixing bowl with hot water now to make it easier to clean and also to warm it for letting the dough rise.)
  • 4. When the dough is fully developed, knead in the currants and walnuts just until thoroughly incorporated. (Yes, this is quite a lot of ingredients to incorporate, but with a little persistence, all the currants and walnuts can be forced to adhere to the dough.)
  • 5. Place the dough in the warm, clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. (You can refrigerate the dough right after kneading for up to 24 hours and then remove it from the refrigerator to finish rising.) Let the dough rise at room temperature for about 1 hour. (If the dough has been refrigerated, this may take an extra 30 to 60 minutes.)
  • 6. Lightly flour a work surface and the top of the dough. Pull the dough out of the bowl and set it upside down on the floured work surface. Gently press the dough to flatten it slightly, then fold the sides into the middle. What was originally the top of the dough should be taut and smooth and the raisins and walnuts better incorporated. Put the dough back in the bowl smooth side up to finish fermenting until at least doubled in bulk, 30 minutes to 1 hour longer, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
  • 7. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or oil them. Roll the dough into a long thick strand and cut it into 24 equal pieces. Gently flatten the pieces with the palm of your hand and pinch the bottoms to create round rolls. Arrange the rolls on the baking sheets, leaving plenty of space around them, and cover with plastic wrap. (At this point, the rolls can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.) Let the rolls rest until tripled in size, about 1 hour (or up to 2 hours if they have been refrigerated).
  • 8. Meanwhile, 30 minutes before baking, arrange the oven racks in the upper and lower third positions and preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Beat a pinch salt into the remaining egg to use for glazing the rolls.
  • 9. When the dough has tripled and does not push back when gently pressed with your finger but remains indented, brush the rolls with the egg glaze. Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, or until very well browned. After the first 15 minutes of baking, switch the pans from front to back and top to bottom so that the rolls brown evenly. When the rolls are done, let them cool on a rack.
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