I have been baking rugelach for at least 25 years. It all started when I worked in a bakery just north of Sausalito, California. We did everything by hand there and the rugelach dough was rolled out into large circles, topped with butter, cinnamon sugar, chopped walnuts and currants. Each round was cut into 12 wedges and then rolled up into crescents. We made them by the hundreds and after the first taste, I was hooked.
Over the years, I have made rugelach to sell in my bakery and to give as gifts during the holidays. While the purpose of making them has changed from time to time, one thing hasn’t, the filling; I always made them with the same combination of ingredients that I first learned years ago. Whenever I would see them for sale with jam fillings, I was always so excited by the choices but in reality, disappointed by the results. I’ve always thought that cinnamon sugar, walnuts (or pecans) and currants make the perfect filling but this week’s recipe for the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers put that filling combination to the test.
Upon reading the ingredient list for the filling, I was completely skeptical, a little worried actually; my mother was visiting and she would be tasting them too. While sharing rugelach with your mom sounds harmless, keep in mind that rugelach is one of her favorite things and she likes them the way I make them; no filling upgrades needed or wanted. How could I possibly dump chocolate, coconut and cherries into her idea of perfection? So I compromised. After mixing up a double batch of dough so I could send mom home with a plate of goodies, I rolled out the first portion with cinnamon sugar, pecans and currants. For the second portion, I combined cinnamon sugar, coconut and chocolate chips.
The directions call for rolling out a very thin sheet of dough that is 12″x6″ and then topped and shaped into a foot long spiral that is about an inch or so thick as well as tall. If you cut them as instructed, you get a lot of single bite pastries making this a great treat to give as gifts or share at a cookie swap. But for rugelach connoisseurs like us, bite sized wasn’t going to cut it.
The secret to perfect rugelach, use lots of flour to roll it out but brush it off both sides or it will make them taste doughy.
As I mentioned, I compromised, I added currants rather than cherries but kept the coconut, pecans and chocolate and spread them over a liberal dusting of cinnamon sugar.
In my opinion, the more pronounced the spiral, the better the flavors blend. To achieve this, I rolled out the rectangle of dough a little wider so that mine was about 12″x 8″ and only about 1/8″ thick. Despite this fact, the dough was still cool enough to work with and it rolled up easily.
One step I completely eliminated was to freeze the rolled and filled dough. Honestly, that sounded like a disaster waiting to happen. With my spiral still on the table, I quickly cut it into thick slices, on the bias. This change affected the yield greatly; my batch of dough only made about 18 thick slices.
One other change I made, no egg wash. The leftover melted butter wasn’t going to be wasted on my watch and I brushed it over each roll along with a dusting of cinnamon sugar before they went into the oven.
Once again, the recipe called for baking the rolls at 400F and that worried me. When I prepared the last Baking Chez Moi recipe, Cranberry Crackle Tart, the instructions to bake at 400F turned out badly for me. Perhaps the oven in our new home is a little hot, or maybe Dorie’s oven is a little cool, either way, I wasn’t taking any chances and I baked them at 375F. Oddly enough, at this temperature, they baked in the time called for in the recipe. Looks like I will be paying close attention to the oven temperature in the recipes from now on!
To see what the other bakers came up with, be sure to visit the Tuesdays with Dorie website and if you like, buy one of the two books we are baking from and bake along with us!