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What is Bejgli?

Diane Goettel
Updated May 17, 2024
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Bejgli is a kind of pastry made out of a sweet dough rolled with a filling of pulverized poppy seeds. In some cases, walnuts are used instead of poppy seeds and there are also recipes that call for a combination filling of both walnuts and poppy seeds. Regardless of the ingredients, the resulting filling should be sweet, but also a bit bitter. The kitchens of Hungary are often credited with the invention of this pastry, but it is also popular in a number of other countries within Central Europe and Eastern Europe.

It is quite common for bejgli to be included in holiday spreads. In countries where bejgli are popular, it is quite common for these pastries to be served at Christmas and Easter. Of course, the pastry has also been introduced to countries where peoples from Central and Eastern Europe have migrated. There are a number of cuisines that have pastries that are similar, although not identical, to bejgli. These other poppy seed rolls hail from Croatia, Poland, Austria, and Lithuania.

There are a number of ingredients in addition to poppy seeds that are used to flavor bejgli. Lemon zest or lemon rind may be used to flavor the dough, the filling, or both. Sometimes oranges are used instead of lemons. Ingredients that flavor, sweeten, and add depth to bejgli filling include honey and raisins. Once the bejgli filling has been rolled into the dough, the pastry is baked until golden brown. In most cases, the resulting loaf is sliced in the kitchen before it is presented at the table for all to enjoy.

Various toppings can be used to flavor and sweeten this pastry. In some cases, the pastry will be topped with a simple white frosting after it has been properly baked and allowed to cool. In other cases, the pastry is glazed before it is put into the oven to bake. It is traditional in Hungary for bejgli to be served at Christmastime along with red currant wine. In other cases, it is served with dessert and is accompanied by other popular dessert beverages.

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Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel
In addition to her work as a freelance writer for WiseGEEK, Diane Goettel serves as the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. Over the course, she has edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter “Sapling,” and The Adirondack Review. Diane holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

Discussion Comments

By John57 — On Jun 01, 2011

If you are familiar with different types of pastries, you know that there are many wonderful Hungarian recipes to try, and one of my favorites was a hungarian walnut roll. I made this with black walnuts and it was delicious.

It does take some time to prepare the dough, roll it out, spread on your filling, bake them and frost them - but they are worth the time and effort. They taste very good even without frosting, but if you like frosting, sometimes I add a little bit of cream cheese frosting.

By Mykol — On May 31, 2011

I have never heard of Bejgli before, but if it is made with a sweetened pastry dough, I can imagine that it would be good. Once I was at a brunch and tried a poppy seed strudel with raspberries. It was a little rich, but was very good.

The poppy seeds were good, but I think the combination of walnut and lemon sounds even better. You can be as creative as you want with they kind of filling you use, but it still sounds good to try the traditional Bejgli.

Diane Goettel

Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for WiseGEEK, Diane Goettel serves as the executive editor of Black...
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