Rugelach was a featured recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie in March 2012. The recipe is courtesy of Lauren Groveman, whose bagels we made in October. In March I was lucky enough to be working on a commercial out near the Salton Sea, southeast of Palm Springs. Little did I know it would be over six months before I made Rugelach of my own. Jessica of My Baking Heart and Margaret of The Urban Hiker hosted for Rugelach in March. The full recipe can be found in their posts here and here. Of course all the recipes can be found in the pages of the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.
Rugelach are apparently a pastry of Eastern European origin, consisting of a flaky dough wrapped around a filling usually consisting of a fruit spread — apricot and prune are traditional — along with assorted nuts, dried fruit, and a significant amount of sugar and spice. The pastry contains both butter and cream cheese, the latter contributing a slight tangyness to the finished product.
Much of the preparation can be done in advance. In addition to the pastry dough, I made up the required Apricot filling, a mixture of coarse brown sugar and cinnamon, and a third mixture of sugar, cinnamon, and finely chopped nuts. Several days later, I brought the components together.
In making, filling, and rolling the Rugelach, I found this dough to be a little hard to work with. Perhaps unwisely, I rolled out the dough on plastic coated freezer paper. The dough enjoyed sticking to the paper, which made rolling the filling logs difficult. Additionally, I found the 5″ wide sheets too short to roll up into clean pinwheels. Luckily this didn’t matter for the final result.
After brushing with an egg wash, each roll was sliced, the pieces rolled in the coarse sugar-spice mixture, and finally placed on a parchment lined baking sheet . In the oven the sugar carmelizes; on removal from the oven each piece must be pried from the parchment within a few minutes lest the Rugelach become welded to the sheet as the sugar cools.
Overall the resulting Rugelach were quite good. They were a little sweet for my taste, though I’m sure they could be tamed with a thinner layer of jam and a lighter touch with the sugar-nut mixture. Even with the excess sweetness, I found myself eating way too many of these. For that reason alone, I probably wouldn’t repeat these until I had the occasion to bring them to a gathering.