Aranygaluska (Hungarian Pull-Apart Bread)
Hungarian immigrants introduced aranygaluska, a traditional Hungarian coffeecake whose name means “golden dumpling,” to the US in the late-nineteenth to early-twentieth century. This coffeecake is the predecessor of what we identify today as monkey or pull-apart bread, which first appeared in the 1972 Betty Croker Cookbook and was later popularized by First Lady Nancy Reagan, who served it at the White House on Christmas Day.
Monkey bread uses a cinnamon-sugar filling while aranygaluska calls for a walnut-sugar mixture and plump raisins. Traditionally, Hungarians serve several of the dumplings with a drizzle of vanilla sauce, which is quite time-consuming to prepare. Softened or melted vanilla ice cream pairs perfectly with this hot coffee cake. Plus, the buttery dough and ice cream make it especially appropriate for Shavuot and a nice change from the traditional cheesecakes.
I found it faster and easier to use a pizza cutter to cut the rolled out dough into small squares, but you can also use a round cookie cutter to cut the dough into disks, as is traditional, or pinch pieces from the dough and roll into balls.
- 2 packets (14 g) active dry yeast
- 5 tablespoons powdered sugar, divided
- 1¼ cup lukewarm milk, divided, plus more if needed
- 3½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 large pinch coarse sea salt
- Zest of ½ lemon
- 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
- 1 cup raisins
- 1½ cup walnuts
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- First, soak the raisins for the filling in boiling water to plump. Grease a 10-inch fluted pan with butter.
- Place yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar in a small bowl. Add ½ cup of the milk, stir and let stand for 5 minutes to activate. Mix flour, salt, lemon zest and remaining sugar in a mixing bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add yeast mixture, remaining milk and vanilla and start mixing on low, adding butter, one tablespoon at a time. Mix for 10 minutes, adding additional milk by the teaspoonful if needed to create a smooth, soft and shiny dough that might be tacky to the touch, but not sticky. Cover and let rest in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, pulse walnuts and granulated sugar in a food processor until finely ground. When the dough is ready, preheat oven to 350 degrees using convection mode. Divide the dough evenly into 4 balls. Working with one ball at a time, lightly dust your board and roll out the ball of dough to 1/8-inch thick. Cut into 3-by-3-inch squares with a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, or use a cookie cutter to form 3-inch circles.
- Then, dip each piece of dough in melted butter, then into the walnut-sugar mixture and place in the greased pan. Alternatively, you can sprinkle some of the walnut-sugar mixture on the bottom of the pan, place the pieces in the baking pan to cover the bottom of the pan, brush with the melted butter, sprinkle more walnut-sugar mixture and scatter drained raisins over the buttered pieces of dough. Repeat with the rest of the dough. You will end up with about 4 layers of dough.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Place on the middle rack in a preheated oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes (convection) or 60 minutes (conventional). Insert a toothpick to check that it is baked through. Let cool a bit before serving. Then, invert onto a serving plate and serve warm.