This is my first post as part of the Tuesdays With Dorie: Baking With Julia group that brings together hundreds of people all over the planet to bake recipes together from the same cookbook. This is the second cookbook, and I am joining on the third recipe they’ve chosen to do in the book, which is a recipe for rugelach. That’s roog-e-laKH. That KH is a sound that doesn’t exist in English, but does exist in Hebrew (the letters khet and khaf), Yiddish, French, German and many other languages. This is the same sound at the beginning of the holiday name Chanukah (Ch is used to represent the sound in English sometimes, although I find that confusing since Ch is it’s own sound in English). For those interested the sound is called the Voiceless Uvular Fricative. I think when trying to pronounce a word that uses this sound in English, it’s safest just to pretend it’s an h. So Rug-e-lah. Sounds good to me. This is probably why Chanukah is frequently written as Hanukah.
Okay, on to the food. Each recipe is ‘hosted’ by two members of the TWD group. For this recipe the hosts are Jessica at My Baking Heart and Margaret at a The Urban Hiker. The recipe should be posted on their sites. To see everyone else who has participated in this recipe, you can view the Leave-Your-Link post to see the links to the blogs of everyone else who has baked rugelach. Everyone posts their blog entries on the same day, Tuesday of course.
Many of the people making this recipe had never had rugelach before, and didn’t know what to expect. Of course, being a common Jewish baked good, I was very familiar with rugelach, although nothing quite like this one. In most places, rugelach is flavored with chocolate or cinnamon, and is not dairy. The reason it’s not dairy is because Orthodox Jews don’t eat meat and milk together in the same meal, and if you’re going to go to this much trouble to make a baked good, it’s probably for a fancy meal, which is usually meat. Thus no dairy desserts. Food that is neither dairy nor meat is called Parve. Anyways, the point is that most kosher bakeries specialize in Parve desserts as there’s a bigger market for them (since they can be eaten with any meal). My husband, on the other hand, had actually had a very similar rugelach made by his grandmother when he was growing up, so this recipe brought back good memories for him.
I hadn’t made anything like this before (even if I had eaten my fair share of rugelach growing up) so this recipe was a bit of challenge for me. That’s part of the reason I joined TWD, so I could learn new baking techniques. I experimented a bit, and improved between the two batches I made, so at least there’s that.
The dough was fairly easy to make. It’s just a lot of butter, cream cheese, sugar and flour. Unfortunately I keep my KitchenAid parve, so I couldn’t use it for this recipe. I have a smaller hand-held mixer that did the job, if with a bit more elbow-grease. After mixing I dough, I split it up into two pieces, wrapped them in plastic wrap, and put them in the fridge for a few hours. These two pieces of dough would later become batch one and batch two. Let’s call batch one experimental, and batch two successful. You’ll see what I mean a bit later in this post.
While the dough was in the fridge, I prepared some of the other components of the recipe. I toasted cashews, pecans and almond slivers, and crushed them. Part of the nuts are crushed almost completely and some coarsely, the fine nuts going on the outside of the rugelach and the coarse nuts going on the inside. The recipe called for using a food processor for this, but I just used a ziploc bag and a hammer.
I also chopped up some apricots and dates. Using a food processor would have been a lot easier for this, but I didn’t want to clean the blades from the sticky insides. I did not make homemade lekvar for the inside of the rugelach, as described in the book, but rather used some substitutes I had at home. In batch one I used an apricot spread and a cherry jam. In batch two I used date spread. See in the photo the rolled-out dough of batch one, cut in half, with apricot spread on the top and cherry jam on the bottom. Each has toasted nuts and chopped dried fruit on top.
I discovered a few things putting together batch one. First, that I had forgotten to follow the instructions and put some flour on the work surface. This made in nearly impossible to roll the dough well later, as the dough was sticking to the paper. Second, I realized too late that without having moved one piece of dough away from the other, that rolling the dough was even more difficult because the other piece was getting in the way. Needless to say, batch one was very difficult to roll, and it was hard to get to close up properly.
In batch two, I floured the surface, separated the two halves (which was only possible because of the flour that helped them move), and in general had a much easier time rolling each piece into a jelly-roll. Batch two also used a different spread, made from dates, which seemed to be a better choice from a consistency point-of-view (and from a taste point of view too, which I found out later). After rolling each piece, the logs are wrapped in plastic wrap and put into the fridge for at least 4 hours, and preferably overnight. I wrapped them up and put them in the fridge until I was ready to do the rest.
After taking out the logs from the fridge, you cover them in an egg wash, cut them into inch-wide pieces and then cover them in a sugar-nut mixture. After laying them out on a baking pan, then look something like:
Since batch one wasn’t put together very well, and possibly due to the fillings used, and possibly due to the temperature I used in the over they had a lot of trouble. The structure didn’t hold up and much of the filling leaked out and melted across the pan. While the result was fairly tasty, it looked a bit of a mess.
Batch two was put together much better and the date spread didn’t seem to melt very much, so the result was much better, giving the rugelach seen at the top of this post. They’re not perfect either, but that’s because I never rolled anything like that before and need to work on my technique. It was a lot of fun doing this recipe and I learned a lot putting it all together. Now that you’ve finished my post, go see what everyone else who did this recipe did, and what results they got doing the same recipe from the same book on the same day.