Golden yeast rolls (Aranygaluska)

Sweet yeast rolls are common across Central Europe; in Hungary, they usually appear as these feather-light buns coated in melted butter and ground walnuts and baked to a golden brown. Aranygaluska is impossible to stop eating, especially if you drown each bit in vanilla custard.

Ingredients

Yield: 7-8 servings; Total time: 2 hours

For the dough

  • 500 grams (1 pound) all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup milk, lukewarm

  • 20 grams fresh yeast or 7 grams (1 package or 2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast

  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

  • 4 egg yolks, beaten

  • 100 grams (½ cup or 7 tablespoons) butter, melted

  • Pinch of salt

For the toppings

  • 2 tablespoons butter, to grease the cake mold

  • 150 grams (⅔ cup or 1 ⅓ sticks) butter, melted

  • 250 grams (½ pound) ground walnuts

  • 150 grams (⅓ pound or ¾ cup) sugar

For the vanilla sauce

  • 4 cups whole milk

  • 10 egg yolks

  • 2 vanilla beans, seeds scraped from pod, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar)

  • 12 tablespoons (¾ cup) sugar

  • 3 tablespoons flour, mixed with 4 tablespoons cold milk

Directions

  • Step 1: Activate the yeast. In a small bowl, stir the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the confectioners’ sugar to ¼ cup lukewarm milk. Set aside for 10 minutes until mixture starts to expand.

  • Step 2: Prepare the dough. Melt 100 grams (½ cup) butter in a pan. In the meantime, combine the yeast mixture with flour, egg yolks, pinch of salt, remaining milk, and remaining confectioners’ sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add melted butter and knead with hands into a light dough so that all parts are well incorporated. Put aside for 1 hour at room temperature and let the dough rise.

  • Step 3: Place the risen dough on a flour-dusted cutting board and flatten with a rolling pin or hand to about 1 ½ cm (½-inch) thickness. Then using a small cookie cutter or a glass (about 5 cm or 2 ½ inches in diameter), cut round pieces. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 Fahrenheit).

  • Step 4: Melt 150 grams (⅔ cup) butter in a pan then place melted butter in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, mix together 250 grams (½ pound) ground walnuts and 150 grams (⅓ pound or ¾ cup) sugar.

  • Step 5: Prepare the yeast buns for the oven. Butter a 23 cm (9-inch) cake mold. Then take a piece of the round dough chunks, dunk it in the melted butter, then coat it with the walnut-sugar mixture, and place it in the cake mold. Repeat for the remaining chunks, creating two layers. Pour any leftover butter and walnut-mixture on top. Place the cake mold into the oven for 45 minutes.

  • Step 6: In the meantime, prepare the vanilla sauce. Bring milk to a boil in a small pot. In another pot or saucepan, whip together egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla pod (or vanilla sugar), then gradually add the hot milk to it. Cook the milk mixture at medium-low and stir continuously with a whip until it starts to thicken slightly, about 5 minutes. Take care not to let the yolks curdle (keep temperature at medium-low to prevent curdling). Add 3 tablespoons flour to a small bowl and mix well with 4 tablespoons cold milk. Pour this milk slurry into the saucepan and continue cooking the vanilla sauce at a bare simmer until it thickens into a light cream, then remove from heat.

  • Step 7: Take out the yeast rolls from the oven, remove the cake mold, and serve half a dozen or so buns per dessert plate with a generous portion of vanilla sauce on top.

Words of advice

The quantity of the vanilla sauce may seem excessive at first but it's essential in order to enjoy most the aranygaluska.

I created these recipes with the help of nearly a dozen historical Hungarian cookbooks, adjusting ingredients, cooking times, and methods to reflect my own preferences and tastes of the current day. Do you have any feedback? Please let me know!