Saturday, February 23, 2013
This version of the famous rugelach is not the fancy kind you find in a New York deli, but believe me when I tell you that this pastry is one of the seven wonders of the Jewish world. This is a simple way of making rugelach that has been passed down in my family. These rugelach are not individually rolled, as you shall see. The secret is in the Hungarian kipfel dough, which my Grandma Wachspress made with cream cheese and butter. I also offer you a gluten-free kipfel version. For rugelach you first need to make the kipfel dough so the following recipe is broken into two stages. First the dough, then assembling the rugelach.
½ lb. butter (2 sticks) softened
½ lb. cream cheese softened
2 c. sifted flour (use whole wheat flour or, for a gluten-free pastry, use brown rice flour)
½ tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. honey
¼ tsp. salt
Honey (indeterminate amount, see directions)
Cinnamon (indeterminate amount, see directions)
1/3 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
1/3 c. chopped raisins (optional)
To make the kipfel dough, blend the ingredients well, working the butter and cream cheese into the flour. This dough has so much butter and cream cheese in it that it falls apart unless it’s chilled. Once you have it blended into a ball, put the kipfel in the refrigerator for 45 minutes or the freezer for 20 minutes before attempting to work with it. When you roll it out, only roll out half the dough at first, while leaving the other half in the refrigerator to stay chilled. Then roll out the other half of the dough.
Roll the kipfel (first half, then second half) out in an oval shape about 5 inches wide and a foot or more long. Try to keep the width as uniform as possible. The kipfel should be about ¼-inch thick. Spread the honey (generously) on the dough with a knife, covering to within about ½-inch of the edges. Sprinkle the cinnamon liberally on top of the honey. Then distribute the walnuts and/or raisins if desired. Gently roll the dough up like a rug, the long way. This is why we call it rugelach, which means something like “little-rolled-up-thing” in Yiddish.
For the gluten-free version, put a piece of parchment (wax paper works OK, just not quite as well as parchment) on the cutting board before you roll out the dough to prevent sticking. Rice flour dough tends to be more gooey, fragile, and harder to work with than wheat flour dough.
Bake the rugelach on a greased cookie sheet at 375º for 20 minutes or until brown and done. The gluten-free version needs to bake for a little longer than the wheat version – 25 minutes should do it. After taking the roll out of the oven, put it on a cutting board or plate and allow it to cool for a few minutes, then slice it in 1-inch-wide segments with a sharp knife.
Eat well, be well, live deliciously!