2½poundsAll-purpose flourplus more for shaping - may need less
1eggfor egg wash
1tablespoonsugaroptional - for sprinkling on top before baking
4½cupswalnutsfinely ground, see instructions -
¾-1cupsugardepending on sweetness desired - 150-200g
1tablespoonmilkonly if needed to make filling spreadable
Before you begin, set out yeast, eggs and milk to get to room temperature.
Warm milk to about 100°F (38°C). Mix in the yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Using your fingers to help dissolve the yeast. Let sit for 5-10 minutes or until foamy.
In a standing mixer (or you can do it by hand - it will just take longer) with a dough hook, add the remaining sugar, egg yolks, butter, salt and yeast mixture and blend briefly. As mixer is going, add in the flour, 1 cup or so at a time until it forms a sticky dough. Do not add too much. The dough should come together but still be slightly sticky. This will help reduce splitting.
Form into a ball in the mixing bowl and cover and sit in a warm place for 2 hours.
While dough is rising, prepare your filling (recipe below).
Place dough out on a floured surface and knead gently. Divide your dough into 8 equal balls.
Work with one or two at a time, keeping the others covered so they don't dry out. Roll each ball into approximately an 8" x 12" (20cm x 30cm) rectangle (or as we did, just a rough circle about 12" in diameter), making sure the long edge is in front of you. Feel free to go slightly bigger. Dough should be fairly thin.
Spread ⅛ of the filling onto the rolled out dough, to within ½-inch of the edge. How I do this is weigh the filling and divide by 8. Then use that weighted amount for each roll. You can eyeball it, but when I have done that, I sometimes run out of filling!
With the long side in front of you, roll up gently (not too tight) and pinch the seams shut. Place on prepared baking sheets, 4 rolls per sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Repeat with all eight pieces of dough.
Let sit 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 340°F (170°C). Brush rolls with egg wash (just blend up the egg a bit in a small bowl) and sprinkle sugar on top, if using. Then bake rolls on middle racks 25-30 minutes or until tops are lightly browned. Start checking on them after 20 minutes. You don't want the bottoms to get too dark.
Cool completely before slicing. I usually get about 10 pieces from each roll. This note is important because my hubby is known to cut himself a slice that is about 1/4th of the roll! Wrap leftovers tightly in plastic wrap, foil or airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 1 week. The nut rolls can be frozen by wrapping in plastic wrap, then again in foil, and stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw at room temperature.
If grinding your own walnuts, I find it best to use a food processor and add a few tablespoons of the sugar while processing to absorb a bit of the oils. This allows you to grind fairly fine without it turning into a paste. Pulse gently at the end and don't take it too far.
Mix together the ground walnuts, remaining sugar and egg whites until you get a spreadable paste. Only add the milk if it is too thick to spread. Set aside until ready to use.