March 6, 2012 § 11 Comments
Rugelach is a traditional Jewish pastry/cookie; its name translates to “little twists”. Originally made with a yeasted dough in Europe, American Jewish immigrants adapted the pastry to a cream cheese dough in this country. This is the first (and more challenging) of the two recipes for TWD bakers to make this month. I’ve never made a cream cheese dough before, let alone rugelach, but these rich cookies with their complex fillings of jam, nuts, dried fruit and sometimes chocolate are one of my bakery favorites. Lauren Groveman’s version of these traditional pastries are generously sized and filled. Their delicious richness warranted all my efforts!
I couldn’t resist adding some type of whole grain flour, so I substituted Bluebird Farms emmer flour for a third of the white flour. To ensure a flakey dough, I wanted to keep the fat (butter and cream cheese) cold. I decided to use Dorie Greenspan’s food processor method, instead of creaming room temperature fats in the mixer. She describes her techniques and gives her rugelach recipe plus two other favorites in an NPR interview on holiday cookies here. I opted out of making prune or apricot lekvar (fruit butter) as I had some French prune-rhubarb butter, homemade cherry jam and local apricot preserves already opened in the refrigerator (toast with butter and jam is a breakfast staple for me). I was a little light-handed with the filling ingredients at the beginning, worried that I might have trouble rolling the dough to encase the filling. But I gained confidence and was pretty generous by the 4th batch.
The crescents I made were quite a bit smaller than the original spirals, so I got more than six dozen rugelach from the recipe. I took most of them to an Academy Awards Night potluck dinner, and they were an Oscar-winning hit!