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R is for... Rugelach

teaandcake's Mike tries out a new recipe.  Check out the verdict and the variations at the bottom before you get started...

 

Pastry

125g cream cheese

125g butter

250g plain flour

pinch salt

30g caster sugar

1tsp vanilla extract

Make sure the butter and cream cheese are softened! This makes life much, much easier. Cream the butter & cheese, so they're well blended. Add the sugar, salt and vanilla then the flour. Using a wooden spoon mix well until it starts to form a crumbly dough, then bring it all together with your hands (it will come together!). Form into two flattened discs, wrap in cling and put in the fridge for an hour.

While the pastry dough is chilling, make the filling

Filling

30g soft brown sugar

30g caster sugar

50g dried fruit

75g chopped hazelnuts

1tsp cinamon

Like I said, I used these ingredients because I had them and they needed using. Mix everything together in a bowl and put to one side. You can add a tablespoon of cocoa powder to this if you like but it might be one too many flavours. Don't forget to have a look at the variations at the end of this page!

After an hour in the fridge turn the oven onto GM4/5 (350F, 180C ish) to preheat, and take out one of your discs of pastry dough. Using a lightly floured board and rolling pin roll out to a circle about 10" in diameter. Don't worry about rough edging, I'm rubbish at rolling out proper circles of pastry. If you're concerned then use the bottom of a 10" springform tin as a guide to cut any rough edges off. The point is that you want thin pastry here. Spread some jam on the surface in a big ring, then sprinkle with half the filling mix, as shown below:

The jam I used was apple & blackberry, but use apricot if you want a neutral flavour (I didn't have any apricot). Note that the middle and the edges are not jammy, and I've not used very much, just enough to smear on the surface - if you overfill the rugelach they will ooze filling when rolling it up, and having the ends free means there's somewhere for filling to go. Press the filling into the jam, then take a pizza wheel and cut into twelve wedges (half it, then quarters, then third the quarters).

Starting at the fat end roll one wedge up to the point so it resembles a small croissant, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Eventually you'll have twelve rugelach that look similar to those on the left. Give them a little bend in the middle so they resemble croissants. These really ought to go back into the fridge for 15 minutes to rest, but you don't have to do so. They can be frozen at this point, too.

Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar, if you wish. These go into the oven for about 25 minutes, or until golden. If you take them out too early the middles won't be cooked; too long and the filling will ooze out and burn on the baking sheet.

Leave to cool on a cooling rack and if you've not covered them in sugar before baking you can dust with icing sugar now.

 

Verdict

The pastry is soft and crumbly, but works like a charm when rolling out. And you can get it very thin without it breaking. It tastes pretty good as well - I imagine it'd make a pretty decent, and light, sweet tart pastry too. The filling is too many flavours for me; dried fruit, and hazels, and the jam, and the cinnamon, and cocoa powder and the brown sugar were just a bit manic. But they are still tasty and different fillings would make these work perfectly.

 

Varations

Change the fillings: I reckon using marmalade instead of jam and sprinkling chocolate chips on there would work just as well, if not better. How about using honey instead of jam, or Nutella and hazels mixed with cinnamon? You have to have something sticky on there or the filling just drops out, and the different textures of the nuts work well against the pastry. A bit of spice in there helps, too. This one really does deserve some experimentation.

Overall, I really enjoyed making these. Jewish pastry cookery isn't something I've ever done before, but I'm certainly more than willing to give more recipes from the culture a try. If only they were't all in volume measurements... If you have book recommendations then let me know!

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