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Passover rolls

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  • Mindy Heiferling Dec 14, 1998 11:20 PM
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I'm doing an article on Passover rolls, or what my grandmother called "bilkalach" (I'm told that that was just her word for them, something akin to "thingamajig:). They are completely delicious--moist eggy, freeform rolls made from what I have come to realize is a kind of Jewish pate a choux, with matzoh meal and oil replacing the flour and butter. I have my grandmother's recipe and I've made them several times over the years, including one year when I worked at Dean & DeLuca and we sold them as "Passover
popovers"(my choice of name, intended to make them more
understandable to the uninitiated). I've found several recipes for them on the Net, but as yet haven't been able to find out about their history, though I'm still looking. I like to imagine that they were created by some French-Jewish pastry chef. I'm wondering if anyone out there knows about their history and if Passover rolls are as familiar and beloved to you as they are to me.

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  1. 'Bulka' is Russian for roll. In Northern Lithuania
    we called them bulklach (lach a diminuitive). Not
    much else to say, as all Jewish traditions have
    been well-documented except food.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Allan Evans

      Sorry for the spelling mistake. It should read
      "bulkalach".

      1. re: Allan Evans

        When I lived in Maine for a year, all these New
        Englanders referred to what I called kaiser rolls as
        "bulkies." Maybe the name (which I always felt goofy
        saying) comes from the Russian word...? Cool.

        1. re: Jessica
          m
          Mindy Heiferling

          Thanks for reminding me about bulkas,the oval, onion and poppy-seed-dotted rolls made from bialy dough which I've seen and eaten over the years. My grandmother was Polish and I called up a (gentile) Polish friend tonight and asked him how to say "roll" in Polish. It's"bulka", with the "L" pronounced almost like a "W".
          Now I'm wondering if "Bilka(lach)" is a Yidddish word or maybe Polish dialect.

          1. re: Mindy Heiferling
            j
            Josh Mittleman

            > Now I'm wondering if "Bilka(lach)" is a Yidddish word
            > or maybe Polish dialect.

            Could easily be both; Yiddish is an amalgam of many
            different languages.

    2. My family has always called them popovers; I've only
      hear bulke applied to yeasted rolls. Everyone ate them
      when I was growing up, usually as the basis for a
      Passover salami sandwich for school lunches. According
      to my mother, my grandmother got the recipe and started
      making Passover popovers in the '40s; she had never
      heard of them in her native Russia.