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7.4.16

WALNUT SQUARES - DIÓS PITE


If these squares look a bit like Bécsi Kocka, they are not. The pastry is light with the consistency of a soft “pite” and the walnut filling is light too, moist and tender. The man said it tasted like beigli and it is not for sharing. Ha! 

It all started when a reader asked me for the Bécsi Kocka [Vienna Square] recipe. It could not have been a well-known square; none of my Hungarian cookbooks have it. I directed her to a Hungarian video I found on line and without considering the ingredients; I decided to try it. Now there are a few versions of Bécsi Kocka in Hungarian, and by the way, nothing in English resembled what half a dozen or so Hungarian bloggers called “Bécsi Kocka”. It wasn’t hard to see the recipes may have come from the same source, including the one in the video. They all had much too much sugar in both the pastry and the filling. And even though I cut down on the sugar considerably, the squares still turned out to be unappealingly sweet. And just think, two layers of heavy “omlós tészta”, which is basically shortbread, combined with a substantial amount of walnuts [walnuts have high oil content] plus whipping cream makes for a heavy square indeed. With no reference on my own I had to rely on somebody else’s tastes. It was disappointing and what I regretted most was the waste of all those walnuts, the butter and the heavy cream. So my response to the Vienna Square request is it is not happening. I already have a well-tested Walnut Slice and there remained several untested walnut squares in my cookbooks. In the end I used my own Linzer Pastry recipe and armed with several walnut filling recipes I concocted a filling resembling... well... none. 


Walnut Squares

These are best with finely ground walnuts. Do roast the walnuts before grinding! Roasting intensifies the flavour, but you also get finer grounds from roasted walnuts. Don’t omit the breadcrumbs. They absorb the milk, swell and serve as a binding agent.  Both the pastry and the filling requires parts of the egg, remember to reserve whatever you don’t need at the time, because in the end every part of the eggs is used up.

1 batch of Linzer Pastry
2 Tbsp rum + 1/4 cup raisins [optional]
3 cups walnuts
1/2 cup + 1/8 sugar
finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup hot milk
1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs
2 egg whites
1 egg yolk + 1 Tbsp water for glazing

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • In a tiny bowl, soak the raisins in 2 Tbsp rum.
  • Make the linzer pastry next. Shape the pastry into a flat rectangle, wrap and put in the fridge for 30 minutes. Do not omit this step; the pastry will be tough without it.
  • While the pastry is chilling, roast the walnuts. Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. They are done when they appear a shade darker and smell toasty.
  • Take out the walnuts and turn the oven up to 375F.
  • Let the walnuts cool down a little and transfer them to the food processor. Grind them very fine.
  • Transfer the ground walnuts to a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the sugar and the finely grated lemon rind.
  • Whisk it up with your hands.
  • Heat the milk next and add to the walnut mixture.
  • Stir to combine and set it aside.
  • Whip 2 egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  • Add the fine breadcrumbs to the walnut mixture just before the beaten egg whites. Give it a good stir.
  • Gently fold in the beaten egg whites. The walnut filling is now complete.
  • Take the chilled pastry dough out of the fridge and divide it into two equal pieces.
  • Next, cut three sheets of parchment paper to fit your baking pan without overhangs. Mine is 13X9 inches so I cut my sheets exactly 13X9.
  • Place one parchment paper on the board and place one of the pastry dough in the middle.
  • Put a sheet of parchment on top, and roll out the pastry to fit the parchment. You will have to do bit of patching.
  • Now peel off the top parchment.
  • Place the rolled out pastry dough inside the baking pan with the parchment on the bottom.
  • Spread the walnut filling evenly on top of the pastry with a large offset spatula.
  • Roll out the remaining dough between the remaining two sheets of parchment paper.
  • Peel the top layer off and discard.
  • Position the rolled out dough on top of the walnut layer with the dough facing downward.
  • Gently peel off the attached parchment and discard.
  • In a small bowl whisk together 1 Tbsp of water with the remaining egg yolk and glaze the top using a pastry brush.
  • Poke the pastry with a fork and place in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  • Let the pastry cool for 15 minutes and slice into squares.
 

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It began with posting a few recipes on line for my family. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has more than 1000 Hungarian and International recipes. What started out as a private project turned into a well visited blog. The number of visitors long passed the two million mark. I organized my recipes into an on-line cookbook. On top of the page click on the cookbook to access the recipes. I am not profiting from my blog, so my visitors will not be harassed with advertising or flashy gadgets. Feel free to cut and paste my recipes for your own use. Publication is permitted as long as it is in your own words and with your own photographs. However, I would ask you for an acknowledgement and link-back to my blog. This is to my old on-line friends and visitors: policing the comment section for spam and answering questions has become a chore. Good wishes to you all, happy cooking and keep on feeding your people with good food.

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