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What Is a Nut Roll?

Walnuts are commonly used in nut rolls.
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  • Written By: K. K. Lowen
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 03 April 2014
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A nut roll is a type of food found in the cuisines of Central Europe and North America. It is a pastry formed from sweet yeast dough and fashioned into a log shape before baking. The dough’s filling contains ground nuts and other food items, such as brown sugar, chocolate, honey, mint, carob, and dried fruits. When cut, the nut roll’s filling spirals through the slice.

The most frequently used recipe components are walnuts and poppy seeds, but bakers may use any kind of nuts when preparing a nut roll. As mentioned, fillings often include additional ingredients. The most commonly added ingredient is dried fruit, but the filling may include practically anything. Grinding the ingredients into a paste or a coarse mixture is a common practice, and some people also choose to add glazes or other toppings before or after baking.

Although other techniques exist, one may choose to bake nut rolls in log form on a flat baking surface or in a loaf pan. Some nut roll varieties require the creation of a long roll bent into a horseshoe shape. Another method involves the creation of individual nut rolls that may be square or ball-shaped.

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Nut rolls are popular in a variety of countries, and the names change depending on the region. For example, potica is a common name used in Slovenian cuisine, and povitica is a widely used label in both Slovenian and Croatian cuisine. Other names include orechovnik in Slovakia, kolache in Russia, makowiec in Poland, and bejgli in Hungary.

In the United States, the term "nut roll" describes any rolled pastry that contains nuts. The names used by Central Europeans to identify nut rolls depend not only on the geographic location but the ingredients used, as well. Nut rolls commonly appear during holiday festivities, particularly Christmas celebrations. They are also popular treats for other special occasions, such as weddings.

Many people have mistaken nut rolls for jelly rolls, also referred to as Swiss rolls. Both jelly and nut rolls are log-shaped and look like a spiral when cut. Jelly rolls, however, do not consist of yeast dough or contain a nut filling. Instead, they usually consist of thin sponge cake with a jam filling.

Nut rolls are also similar to strudel, but there are important differences. Strudel consists of layers instead of rolled dough and usually does not include a nut filling. The nut roll is comparable to gugelhupf and buchteln, as well. Like nut rolls, both gugelhupf and buchteln are yeast breads and often contain nut fillings.

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