Orahnjaca or orehnjaca (pronounced ‘orahnyacha’ and ‘orehnyacha’ respectively, and with an audible ‘h’ sound, like the ‘h’ in ‘hotel’) is roll with a yeasted dough and walnut filling. I used to think it was Croatian, but it looks like I was wrong, and the similar cake is popular all over Eastern Europe.
This is my mum’s recipe. Like a lot of good things, it takes a bit of time and attention, but it’s well worth it.
One word of warning though. We don’t really cook on a small scale here, and in this case, without thinking about dividing it into portions. The recipe below yields 2 large rolls (about 36 cm long, 7 cm tall, and 10 cm wide). When the cake is baked, it is cooled (barely!) and then eaten by the whole family throughout the day, or for a few days if you’re lucky and if everyone is not at home, until it runs out. It’s not really a dessert as such, though I wouldn’t stop you if you wanted to serve it as such. I’d just say it’s better after lunch, than dinner, if the dinner is your main, big, meal. You could think of it more as a piece of cake to eat with your morning coffee, or during the day. But whatever you do, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!
Orahnjaca (Walnut roll)
SOURCE: Mum’s recipe
PREPARATION TIME: 2 h (includes 1.30 h resting time)
COOKING TIME: about 1 h
400 g plain flour
7 g powdered yeast
80 g butter, melted
2 large eggs
80 g sugar
2 dl warm milk
1 lemon – zest only
a little salt
GLAZING – optional
1 egg yolk, beaten
10 g vanilla sugar
some lemon juice
300 g ground walnuts
70 g sugar
1 dl boiling hot milk
2 tbsp dark rum
20 g vanilla sugar
a little lemon juice
- Warm the sifted flour slightly in the oven (on low heat). Mix in the powdered yeast and salt, and then add all the other ingredients. Stir to combine and make a soft dough.
- Set aside until doubled in size. Mum’s special tip: Place the bowl with the dough over a bowl of warm water. That should speed it up, and it will take about an hour.
- Put the ground walnuts into a bowl and pour the hot milk over. Add all the other ingredients, and stir to combine. Set aside to cool.
III. PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
- When the dough has risen, divide it in half, and then roll each piece to 6 mm thickness. Divide the now cool filling in two, and spread over the dough. Roll each piece, and place onto the baking tray, leaving a large gap between the two rolls (they spread when they bake).
- Leave to rise for 30 min.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200 C, and butter and flour a large baking tray. Mum’s is 36 x 36 cm.
- Before placing the rolls into the oven, you can glaze them with beaten egg yolk and lemon, and sprinkle with vanilla sugar, if you want. This is what mum does.
- Bake the rolls for about 1 hour, or until done. Test with a skewer or a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Enjoy!
More sweet Croatian recipes on this blog:
Fritule (aromatic bite-sized dough balls, flavoured with lemon zest, orange zest, grape brandy (loza in Croatian) and/or dark rum, and sprinkled with icing sugar)