The Fresh Loaf

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Please help ID this bread!

jenerationx's picture

Please help ID this bread!

I hope this forum is OK to ask for help with this!

My friend and I are trying to identify a kind of bread that her grandmother (who's since passed on) used to make.  We don't even know the real/exact name for it, which has made searching for it online difficult and fruitless.  :(

This is how she describes it: "It's pronounced row-jack, or something like that. It's basically a bread dough that you make up (faintly sweet) and then you flatten it out, cover it with jam, fruit, cinnamon raisin, etc., roll it up into rolls, put in bread pans, and bake."

Does this sound familiar to anyone?  Her grandmother was of Polish/Russian/Jewish descent, but it's possible the bread has nothing to do with any of those cultures.

Thanks in advance for your help. :-)


perlnata's picture

it's familiar to hungarian Plum Dumplings

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Sounds to me like a basic brioche made into a loaf.  The possibilities (and names) are endless.  I wouldn't break my head about it and just look for a dough that she likes and handle it in a similar fashion.   Your friend could use her own creativity and make it her own inspired by her Grandmother.

Is the dough cut or scored to expose the fruity spiced insides or does that happen when the loaves are sliced?  Is it a fluffy type crumb or a more compact one just holding the filling together?  Is the loaf tall or short?  

jenerationx's picture

Yeah, I suggested the same thing myself -- to simply make a sweet yeast bread and fill/bake it the way she describes, but she says that the texture is pretty specific (to her), so I wanted to first ask around and see if this was something others would recognize right away.  It doesn't seem that that's the case, so experimentation is the next step!  Of course, it is something from her childhood, which does funny things to our sense memories, so she may never make one that tastes just like it.

As for your specific questions, I'll have to let her answer them, as I don't know!

vatrixsta's picture

Yes, given the answers, and my inability to find the proper recipe with some searching, leads me to believe my grandmother's mom, who was full blooded Czech, probably just made up the recipe - calling it "Rozek," as someone else helpfully supplied below! - and then passed it down. 


Basically, it was a yeasty dough - not pastry-like at all; it was bread for sure, POSSIBLY brioche-like. I wish I could remember if she actually put butter in it or not. Anyway, she would roll it out somewhat flat, spread whatever filling, then roll that into a "loaf" - bake it whole in a regular sized loaf pan - and then the filling would only be visible when it was sliced, at which point it would have a roll-like appearance, with more bread than filling in the ratio.  It would come out tall and firm. 


I so raise an angry fist to her in heaven for never having written it down. 

lumos's picture

I agree with Mini.  It sounds like a bread made with sweet dough and some kind of filling.  As with any dish, there're as many recipes for each dish as cooks/chefs who makes it.  Your friend's grandmother's recipe could've have been just one of them. 

If you google with 'Polish sweet bread' or 'Russian sweet bread,' you'll find a lot of recipes for that, and they are all different.  I'd just stab in the dark and choose the one I think is the closest to her grandmother's one and see how different/similar it is, and tweak the recipe according to that experience.  Your friend is the only one who can judge if that's right or not, because what she wants to re-create is the unique one made by her grandmother.

One thing, though, is that there are sweet dough with egg and without. If your friend remembers how the colour of the crumb was like (had hint of yellow=with egg, like brioche dough,  or white/pale=without egg, like Japanese generic white dough which is 'faintly sweet').  I think that's the only thing you'd have to keep in mind at this moment, and just try the one you find.

FYI, this is King Arthur's version of Polish sweet bread. Thought they were a quite reliable source to start with. ;)


jenerationx's picture

Yeah it's sounding more and more like it was just something her grandmother made on her own and gave a Polish name to.  I had to ask the community though, on the off chance that it was actually something easily recognizable!

Great idea re: color and what not.  I agree that she's the only one who can ultimately make the call on what's right... hopefully all the great Qs here will spark some more memories about it!

thomaschacon75's picture

It could be rugelach, if by "roll it up into rolls, put in bread pans" you mean "slice it into rolls and put the rolls on a sheet pan", as one does for cinnamon rolls. 

That's the only thing that comes to mind that fits your description and also sounds somewhat like row-jack.

Here's an audio clip of the proper pronunciation:

You often see it sold as "Polish Rugelach", even though its origin is Ashkenazi Jew.

If it's a "loaf of bread", then it's not rugelach–unless her grandmother baked it as one big loaf, as if it were cinnamon swirl bread.

If you're in Seattle, you can sometimes find it at Costco in the bakery section. It's not very good rugelach, but it's a fair approximation. There was a Jewish bakery in Kirkland that sold it too, but I think it's closed now. The Essential Baking Company used to make it around the holidays. Give them a call and see if they still do.

The best recipe I've found for it is in Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the La Brea Bakery. If I recall, she uses laminated dough (Danish pastry dough), which is not something an inexperienced baker would want to attempt! Trust me on that one. 



It's not uncommon to see them shaped like croissant (rolled triangles). In that case, this is the technique:

ehanner's picture

Those all look excellent! I don't make a lot of sweets but these are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.


thomaschacon75's picture

I just grabbed a bunch of pictures of rugelach off of Flickr

jenerationx's picture

Thanks!  We actually love rugelach, so I know that's not it.

She's definitely talking about a yeast bread.

dwcoleman's picture

From my polish friend.


It sounds like Polish word: rozek (rożek), which is the equivalent to “little croissant”.



jenerationx's picture

Oooh good clue!!

It sounds more and more like it was some kind of random bread she made and just called it what she wanted, lol.

dwcoleman's picture

Direct translation of rozek is little horn(s).  He says it was more of a slang that polish people used.

thomaschacon75's picture

Potica doesn't sound even vaguely like row-jack, but it's Polish and rolled up and is a loaf and has raisins and cinnamon.

thomaschacon75's picture

Bobka also doesn't sound like row-jack, but is similar in description.

FoodFascist's picture

there's a Russian thing called rulet - pronounced as "roulette" (and the word itself is I think of French origin). It's basically the Russian word for roll. There isn't one recipe for it, in fact a rulet is a rather generic name for dough, filled with a savoury or sweet filling, rolled up and baked. For a sweet rulet, fillings can include jam, fruit - usually tangy, like sour cherries or raspberries, raisins and nuts, poppy seed, prunes and nuts... It's not always made of dough either, it could be sponge, short crust pastry or even meringue. I'd say dough and sponge are probably the most common ones.

Jean6's picture

I have had something similar to what you describe that I bought from a Byzantine Catholic Church fundraiser before Easter one year.  I think is it Makowiec Poppy Seed Roll (as it's called in Poland).  There is a thread here on TFL about it:

Hope that helps.

vatrixsta's picture

Thanks for the try! The idea is similar - but there is no glaze on the one I'm trying to match, and the bread is not nearly as long. 


However, my grandmother WAS Catholic, so this is likely why so many similar breads are popping up in that way! I honestly think everyone's inklings are correct and she just made it up - her own variation on a lot of other Polish type breads, and I'm gonna have to bastardize one of the bread recipes and go on my own. Maybe this one you've just given me!

peppermintpatti's picture

Rozky is the correct spelling. It is Slovak. Enjoy!

Rich H's picture
Rich H

My mother's family are from Southern Poland and my mother made this rolled bread every Christmas and Easter.  When she passed away, the recipe was basically lost to me.  My wife (before we were married) tried to recreate it given what I told her about it and found a close recipe, Poteca which is Yugoslavian.  It was very close to what I remember.  None of myPolish or other Eastern European friends knew the word Rozek.  I went to Cooking School and as part of the Breads class, we had to research a bread so I took Rozek.  My mother is from Streator, IL and I went there to research it.  Rozek is quite common there because there was a large influx of Polish, Slovak, Czech, Russian, Hungarian immigrants.  

When I made it for my class, a friend said his mother and grandmother make that every holiday and had a different name for it.

What I learned was that the slightly sweetened, filled and rolled bread is common in the Eastern European countries under a variety of names but commonly filled with nuts, prune, poppy seed or apricot.  It is usually a long bread that is curved slightly according to tradition.  If you would like a recipe, let me know.  My wife and I have gotten the recipe pretty close to what I remember my mother making.


jenerationx's picture

OK so a couple of amazing things here:

1) My friend's family is ALSO from Streator, IL -- which I guess goes to your point about immigrants who went there and made rozek common.

2) That you would see and reply to this post 3 years from when I first posted the question. I love the Internet!

And yes, if you could PLEASE share your recipe, that would be really awesome. Thanks in advance!

Rich H's picture
Rich H

It is very similar to any Eastern European from Poteca to Kolac.  All three have a root of Horn and I found my old report in which I remember my mother telling me it meant horn of the moon.  This recipe was recreated by my wife when we were dating and I really thought it was gone.  Over the years, we have worked on it to where I think it tastes like what my mother made.   Sorry for the poor layout.  I've never posted here before.  We usually use a prune filling because that is what I liked best as a kid.  My mother would make nut and apricot as well.

This recipe is for one loaf and was based on a Poteca recipe and then cut in half, thus the odd measurements.  I really like to think this is my wife's recipe since she did the initial research and I just tweaked it.  





1                     tsp            dry active yeast

2                     tsp            sugar



sugar (one tablespoon and one teaspoon of Sugar)



lukewarm milk






egg beaten



soft margarine



sifted all-purpose flour



2              tbl            warm water Flour mixture







Additional flour

1              cup          sifted all-purpose flour to add


Egg Glaze

1/2                         egg

2          tbl            milk (optional)



Place the yeast in a mixing bowl and stir in the 2 tsp of sugar and warm water. Leave for 10 minutes to proof. Make sure the yeast is bubbling.


Add the milk, the other sugar, salt, egg, margarine and flour and beat with a spoon until smooth. Add additional flour to make a smooth soft dough, mixing with your hands.


Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic and no longer sticks to your hand. This will take about 5 minutes. Shape it into a ball, place in a greased bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 2 hours or longer until doubled in size.


Punch down the dough and let rise again until it is almost doubled in size. This will take less time than before. However make sure it gets to double size.


Place a large sheet of oiled plastic wrap on a work surface. Place the dough in the center and roll it out almost paper thin to an oblong about 30 in x 20 in. Spread the filling over the dough. Starting at the widest edge, lift up the plastic wrap and carefully roll up the dough, like a jelly roll. Curve the piece into a crescent shape and seal the ends. Place on a greased baking sheet and leave to rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size.


Make an egg glaze from the egg and milk and coat the piece. Bake above the center of a 325 degree over for about 45 until brown.

Badgolf's picture

Did you find the recipe you were looking for? My fatger grew up in Streator, IL as well and the old family recipe is VERY similar to Rich H except for a couple subtle changes. I can post it is you need it still. There is a walnut filling, prune filling, apricot filling, cheese filling, and poppyseed filling that goes with it but I also use Solo fruit filling as well to make cherry and raspberry. 

jenerationx's picture

Hi! Would love to have your recipe even if just to compare. Sometimes small things make a big difference. Thanks!

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

Sounds like rugelach (think that's how you spell it). Rugelach has many variants but all involves filling pastry with swet things and rolling it up into little croissants. Cinnamon and chocolate are popular ones. But there are also fruit ones.

The reading down the thread some have pointed out that it sounds like a polish pastry and the translation is "little horns".

Funnily enough Rugelach also means little horns.

Badgolf's picture

its definitely not Rugelach. It's a Slovak recipe. My grandmother came from Ooland and my grandfather from what is now Slovakia. They brought this recipe to Streator with them and it was made in both countries. It has some odd ingredients, which are hard to duplicate by your taste buds haha

1.5 cups scalded milk

2 yeast packets

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 egg yolks (save the whites for the nut filling below)

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp lemon juice

~5 cups flour (don't add to much. This part is tricky, you add the flour until it forms a nice dough but should not be dry). I start with 4 and add more from there. 

From here use Rich H's recipe for handling the dough. 

For the nut filling:

1# finely chopped walnuts

1/4 cup boiling water

1.5 cups granulated sugar

3 beaten egg whites

Mix them all together and spread on the dough. 

Please let me know if you make this and it is the missing recipe! I'm really curious because I have a hunch she did not make the recipe up. That generation was not good about sharing recipes!!!! 

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

both mean "little horns".


Badgolf's picture

The above recipe makes 3 large rolls. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. You can make 6 smaller rolls and bake for 35 minutes as well. We use greased cake pans and put the small ones the short way or the large ones the long way. I like making the smaller ones because they make great gifts. We always had ours straight, not crescent shaped

REvancavich's picture

I am of Czech and Russian decent and for all the Russian Holidays we always made this swirl bread, what I thought was called "bonic" to us. I just tried to search for it and and only some ugly pioneer bread came up. I have made it before just winging it with a simple bread recipe. Roll it out. We only ever used poppy seed, apricot or prune. The prune is the best! But we always had all 3 all the time and it makes for a nice display to have all 3. You have to cover it in an egg yolk wash. We also didn't have ours crescent shaped but there are probably naturally many variations. I wish I had an actual recipe from my Grandmother before she passed. Grr. I don't remember ever adding milk when I made it with her. I'll try combining some recipes above. Thanks for posting!