Dec 132015
Helen Kun Karney, Circa 1925

Helen Kun Karney
circa 1925

My paternal Grandmother, Helen Kun Karney, immigrated to the United States at the tender age of 16, in 1901. She married my grandfather, Steven Karney in 1904; they both came from the same town in Hungary, Battyan.  Dios (‘dee-oshe) or Nut Roll is a Hungarian Christmas tradition, and I’ll never know if she carried a hand-written recipe with her on the boat from Europe, or if she created it from memory, but the recipe remains over 100 years later.

Grandma Karney’s recipe was passed on to me through my mother who used it to make the nut roll I remember so well. Although, I’m sure I watched my mother make it (and probably licked the bowl that contained the sugar and walnut filling,) I had never prepared it on my own until recently. I still use the same Wearever #918 aluminum pan that my mother used, and it perfectly holds the four rolls that that this timeless recipe makes.  I recently purchased a second pan on Ebay. They haven’t been made in a long time, but if you can find one on Ebay, it will last for many generations. Nutroll freezes well, so while you are at it, make a couple of batches.

Mom’s Nut Roll (Dios)
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Mom’s Nut Roll (Dios)


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter or margarine
  • 2 pkg. dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 to 5 cups of flour
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 lb. ground walnuts
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 scant cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


  1. Make a leaven of 1/4 cup of warm water, 1 tsp. sugar and the yeast. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter and mix with the sour cream, sugar, 2 cups of flour and finally the egg yolks.
  3. The mixture should be cool or only slightly warm. Now you can add the yeast mixture and knead in the rest of the flour until the mixture is about the consistency of soft bread dough.
  4. Knead until smooth. If the dough has a layered look and won't hold together, knead in a little water until the dough is smooth and cohesive.
  5. Divide into 4 parts and refrigerate covered overnight.
  6. Mix together walnuts, egg whites, sugar and vanilla to make filling.
  7. Roll out each piece of dough into a rectangle the length of your pan.
  8. Spread with 1/4 of the walnut filling.
  9. Roll up jelly roll style.
  10. Butter the baking pan lightly.
  11. Put the 4 rolls in a baking pan and let rise in a warm place, covered, for 2 hours.
  12. Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes.
  13. Cool and slice.


If you have trouble rolling out the dough or if it tears, your dough is too dry.It's better to err on the side of too soft, rather than too dry.

I use Ceresota all-purpose flour in my recipe. Other flours may have more or less moisture, so adjust the amount for a soft, but not sticky dough.

I usually cut the rolls in half crosswise, wrap them in foil and refrigerate until needed. Then I slice the larger piece into 1/2 in slices for serving. It dries out less than if you pre-slice the whole thing.

For freezing, wrap in foil and then seal in air-tight freezer bag.

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Dec 132015

My grandmother certainly had no concept of Veganism in her day. But, times change and I have a number of friends who became Vegan this year, some of whom I have gifted at Christmas with nut roll and Kifli. I always like a challenge, so I decided to see if I could make both of these traditional Hungarian recipes in Vegan form. I made a batch of the cookies in Vegan form and my wife said they were better than what I made last year. So I made two batches of Vegan Kifli and two batches of Vegan nut roll. I had my oldest son taste both without telling him about the change and he though I really outdid myself this year. So, I was happy that the recipe worked and worked well.

I won’t publish the whole recipe here, just the Vegan substitutions and a few other notes. Refer to the original recipe for the technique, because it is the same for Vegan as the normal recipe.


Use margarine or vegan butter in place of the butter, same amount.

I used the same egg replacement for the egg whites as the egg yolks. Mix two tablespoons of ground Chia and Flax seeds (I used Raw Organics “Real Cold Milled Organic Golden Flax Seed & Organic Chia Seed”) with 6 Tablespoons of hot water and let it sit for about five minutes until thickened. Make one batch for the dough and another for the filling.

The sour cream was a little more complicated. Start with a cup of raw cashews (Trader Joes has these at a good price) and cover with boiling water. Let soak for at least 30 minutes and then drain. Put them in a food processor with 1 Tablespoon of cider vinegar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice and 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Blend to form a thick paste and then add water, 1 Tablespoon at a time and blend until the desired consistency is reached. You’ll need to add 3 to six Tablespoons.


Everything else is the same. Remember to keep the dough on the soft side. If it is too dry, it will be hard to roll and the final nut roll will be dry.

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