The St. Sava Serbian Sisters' Circle of Merrillville, Ind., is a group of women who volunteer their time to create thousands of strudels, nut rolls, and palachinkes as a fundraiser at least three times a year. They do things the old-fashioned way, including grinding the nuts (as is being done here by Vasa Wolanyk) and rolling the dough by hand. Click on the pictures for a larger version. Here is the St. Sava Serbian Sisters' nut roll recipe in its entirety.
1. Wet Ingredients Are Combined with Dry Ingredients for Nut Roll
Here, Zorka Glumac and Mariola Rajkovic prepare to combine wet ingredients with the dry ingredients that have been mixed together in a separate bowl and the butter cut into them as for pie dough for their nutroll recipe.
2. Nut Roll Dough Is Mixed by Hand
The Serbian Sisters Circle of St. Sava Church in Merrillville, Ind., make their nut rolls the old-fashioned way -- by hand. Here, the wet and dry dough ingredients are mixed together.
3. Nut Roll Dough Is Formed into a Smooth Ball
In a matter of minutes, the women have created a smooth, pliable dough, simply by mixing with one hand. The dough is covered with the mixing bowl and rises until doubled.
4. Nut Roll Dough Is Divided into Six Equal Pieces
Once doubled, the dough is divided into six equal pieces and gets a second rise, covered with the mixing bowl. Years of nutroll-making have given these women the ability to judge, simply by lifting a ball of dough, if it weighs the same as the rest.
5. Nut Roll Dough Is Rolled by Hand
While the balls of dough are rising, the walnut filling is made by combining sugar, ground nuts and scalded milk. Working with one ball of dough at a time, it is rolled by hand to 1/8-inch thickness. The dough has enough fat in it, so very little additional flour is used in the rolling process.
6. Walnut Filling Is Spread on the Nut Roll Dough
Walnut filling is portioned out equally and spread evenly nearly to the edges of the dough.
7. Rolling Begins for Serbian Nut Roll
Some of the women prefer to roll from the top down, some like to roll from the bottom up. Here, Rada Gasic begins to roll from the bottom up.
8. Serbian Nut Roll Is Formed Into a Cylinder
Rada continues to roll the pastry into a not-too-tight cylinder. She doesn't want to stretch the dough too much because it could cause shrinkage and the filling might burst through the dough while baking.
9. Serbian Nut Roll Is Neatened to Make Sure It Is Straight
Rada quickly neatens her nut roll before placing it on a parchment-lined baking sheet and allowed to rise until almost doubled.
10. Serbian Nut Roll Is Pricked with a Fork to Create Steam Vents
The nut rolls are pricked their entire length in a "V" pattern. This creates steam vents and helps prevent the dough from bursting and the precious filling leaking out. I didn't see one top that had broken open. A few sides had started to open, but the filling didn't spill out.
11. Serbian Nut Roll Is Egg Washed Before Going into the Oven
Before going into the oven, the nut rolls are brushed with an egg wash made with 2 large beaten eggs mixed with 2 teaspoons of water. This will be enough for the 6 nut rolls this recipe makes.
12. Serbian Nut Roll Should be Golden Brown When Baked
Serbian Nut Roll bakes at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely before eating. Baked nut rolls freeze well. Don't try to freeze them before baking, quality will be compromised. Strudels, on the other hand, can be frozen prior to baking to good effect. In fact, the St. Sava Serbian Sisters' Circle stockpiles tons of strudels in their freezers for holiday bake sales, Serb Fest in the summer, and for orders throughout the year.