Golden Dumplings

Aranygaluska

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    8 to 12

    servings

Appears in

One day at a very modest cafe in Budapest, I tasted this amazingly beautiful and delicious cake that reminded me of American “monkey bread,” layers of round balls held together by a golden sugar-walnut crust. When I returned to the States and described it to my Hungarian friends, they knew exactly what I had enjoyed: Golden Dumplings. This is one of those recipes that every family has in its repertoire, perhaps because the dough doesn’t require heavy kneading. The dumplings look very homey when layered in a baking dish or springform mold, but using a Gugelhupf pan makes a spectacular presentation.

Ingredients

Sponge

  • ounce ( cube) compressed yeast or teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
  • ½ cup milk (heated to 105° to 115°F if using dry yeast)
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup unbleached flour

Dough

  • ½ cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • cups unbleached flour, as needed
  • 2 tablespoons dried bread crumbs, for the pan
  • cup sugar
  • ¾ cup walnut pieces
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm

Method

  1. To make the sponge: Crumble the yeast over the milk in a small bowl and add the sugar. Let stand for 3 minutes. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until the mixture is bubbly and doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.
  2. To make the dough: Stir the milk, melted butter, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a heavy-duty standing mixer. Add the egg yolks and the sponge. Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit with the paddle blade. With the machine on low speed, add enough of the flour to make a very stiff, somewhat sticky dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Gather up the dough and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Briefly knead by hand just until the dough is smooth.
  3. Gather the dough into a ball and place in a large buttered bowl. Turn to coat the dough with butter, then cover tightly. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1¼ hours.
  4. Punch down the dough and knead briefly. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 30 equal pieces. Rolling the dough between your palms, form it into balls. Place the balls on the work surface and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  5. Using a cylinder-shaped pastry brush, generously brush the inside of a 10-inch Gugelhupf or fluted tube pan with softened butter, sprinkle with the bread crumbs, and tap out the excess. Process the sugar, walnuts, and lemon zest in a food processor until the walnuts are very finely chopped, and pour into a medium bowl. Pour the melted butter into another bowl. One at a time, keeping the remaining balls covered, dip the balls in the melted butter to coat completely, then roll in the walnut mixture. Reserve any remaining butter. Arrange the balls in layers in the pan (don’t worry if the layers are not exactly even). Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until the dough is almost doubled in volume, about 45 minutes.
  6. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350°F. Bake for 20 minutes. Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil and continue baking until the dumplings are golden brown (an instant-read thermometer inserted in the dumplings will read 200°F). Brush the crusty parts on the exposed top of the dumplings with the reserved butter. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a plate and cool until warm or room temperature. To serve, break apart the dumplings.

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