Cakes and Desserts, Cookies, Uncategorized

Rugelach – one dough, four options

Rugelach cookies Ronit PensoRugelach, the traditional Eastern-European-Jewish rolled cookies, are loved by many, and for a good reason. The flaky dough, the tasty filling of jam combined with raisins, nuts and lots of cinnamon, works every time.
The traditional versions of the dough contained sour cream, which in the States was substituted with cream cheese. In the following recipe, I use neither. Instead, I used a mixture of milk and yeast. The result is a lighter dough, which is also easier to roll.
Don’t let the use of yeast in this dough deter you from making this simple and easy dough. The resting time for the dough is only 30 minutes – just enough to air the dough and make it flakier, which is all that is needed.

I cut the dough into three parts, and made four different versions of the cookies, including a less traditional filling of meringue, which I made with the leftover egg whites. You can choose to do the same, or use just one of the methods.

Whichever version you’ll choose, you’ll end up with delectable cookies, that will fill the house with wonderful aroma. Try them and enjoy.

Makes: about 40
Dough prep time: 15 minutes + 30 minutes rest
Filling prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 20–30 minutes, depending on the shape

For the dough:
½ cup milk
1 ½ oz (40 grams) dried yeast
1 Tbs sugar
3 cups flour
2 sticks (230 grams) butter, soft
2 L egg yolks (keep the whites for the meringue filling) at room temperature
1 Tbs lemon zest
For the jam-nut filling:
About 2 cups of plum or strawberry jam
3/4 cup sugar
2-3 Tbs cinnamon
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
For the meringue filling:
2 L egg whites
½ tsp vinegar
½ cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla

1. The dough: warm the milk in a small pot, add the yeast and sugar and mix gently. Let sit for 5 minutes, until the yeast foams.
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2. Place the flour, butter, egg yolks and lemon zest in a large bowl. Add the milk-yeast mixture and knead briefly to form a dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for 30 minutes.
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3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 340F (170C) and prepare the fillings.
4. Place the dough on a lightly floured work space. Cut it into 3 equal portions and use with the following fillings and ways of preparation.

Individual Rugelach – crescents and slices: Crescents: Take 1/3 of the dough and cut a third of it. On a lightly floured work space, roll the 1/3 piece into a circle. Using a sharp knife, and an upside-down bowl for measurement, cut the edges to form a 6.5”(16.5cm) disc.  With a sharp knife, cut the disc into six triangles. Make a small cut in the middle of the wide side of each triangle (this will help with the folding.)
Spread jam over, sprinkle some sugar and cinnamon, and add raisins and nuts. Fold the sides of each triangle towards the middle, and then roll it and twist it to form a crescent. Place on a cookie sheet pan, lined with baking paper. Repeat with the rest of the triangles. Bake for 20 minutes, until the cookies are golden-brown. Let cool to room temperature. Dust with powdered sugar (optional) before serving.
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Slices: You can prepare crescents from the rest 2/3 of the dough, or, if you gave up on the crescents by now (like I did), you can roll the dough into a 12”(30cm) x 5”(13.5cm) rectangle. (Don’t worry if the edges are not straight, it’s fine.) Spread jam over, sprinkle generously with sugar and cinnamon and add raisins and nuts. Roll into a roulade, from the long side. Cut the roulade – preferably with a plastic dough scraper – to 1”(2.5cm) pieces. Place the pieces on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until the cookies are golden-brown. Let cool to room temperature and dust with powdered sugar (optional) before serving.
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Roulade: Roll one 1/3 of the dough to form a 14”(35cm) x 6”(15cm) rectangle. (Don’t worry if the edges are not straight, it’s fine.) Spread about ¾ cup jam over, avoiding the edges. Sprinkle generously with sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle nuts and raisins on top and roll into a roulade, from the long side. Pinch the dough edges tightly together. With a sharp knife, make about 12 cuts, not too deep, about 1“(2.5cm) apart. Bake for 25 minutes, until the roulade is golden-brown. Let cool to room temperature. Sprinkle with powdered sugar (optional) and slice into 2” (5cm) pieces.
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Meringue filling: The meringue: place the egg whites, vinegar and vanilla in a mixer bowl, fitted with the wire whisk. Whisk on medium-high speed until large bubble start to show. Lower the speed to medium and add the sugar, slowly. Keep whisking about 4-5 minutes, to a white and shiny meringue.
Roll one 1/3 of the dough to form a 14”(35cm) x 6”(15cm) rectangle. (Don’t worry if the edges are not straight, it’s fine.) Gently fold into a roulade from the long side. Cut the roulade – preferably with a plastic dough scraper – to about 1”(2.5cm) pieces. Place the cut pieces in a 8”(20cm) round pan, side by side, cut side up. (It is a bit of a messy task, but it’s worth it…) Bake for 30 minutes, until the meringue and dough are golden-brown. Let cool to room temperature before cutting. To serve, cut into triangles, like a cake.
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4 thoughts on “Rugelach – one dough, four options”

  1. Oh, this looks really yummy. I’m more used to the store-bought versions, but this, even by the photos, feels so fresh and soft and melts in your mouth…. But – SO much work!You say the dough only has to rest for 30 minutes, but all the work before and after…
    It reminds me of my work at the ceramics studio – so much work is needed to create even the most simple cup, and then people think the price is high, as they compare it to the factory made ones.

    You really need to love what you’re doing, to prepare all this. I hope you’re charging dearly for this…

    I didn’t understand the last part, but I saw you’ve used a very familiar ceramic dish… It’s amazing how you manage to keep them unbroken for so long. 🙂


    1. I understand it looks like a lot, but it’s mostly because I’ve given here 4 different ways of preparing, so I guess it could be overwhelming to the untrained cook.
      I’m glad you’ve at least enjoyed the photos, even if you’re not going to prepare! 🙂

      The last version is indeed not a traditional one. I’ve basically made a sort of cake with the dough and meringue, instead of cookies. Maybe that’s why you’ve found it less understandable.

      I am indeed very lucky to be around people who appreciate the difference between store-bought and home-made products.

      I love your ceramics and always handle them with care… 🙂


  2. Segmenting the circle of dough to make the triangles is a stroke of genius! (I usually try and make rectangles for croissants and then slice diagonally and the triangles are usually all wonky) I’m using your method from now on!
    Thank you for the step by step photos… love them!


    1. I can’t take the credit for the method – I learned it from my grandmother 🙂 but I’m glad her kitchen wisdom is helpful to you as well. 🙂
      Happy cooking!


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