By Chaya Rappoport
(The Nosher via JTA) — I had never been much of a rugelach baker until this recipe. While I gravitated toward challah and babka, I always found store-bought rugelach to be a bit bland and disappointing.
But to my great delight, rugelach are supremely easy to make. Most recipes rely on a 1-to-1 ratio of butter and cream cheese in the dough for flavor and flakiness. I stick with that classic method (don’t mess with perfection!), but also add a bit of sour cream for an extra tender texture. The dough comes together in seconds with the help of a mixer (or food processor) and, after a short rest, it’s ready to be rolled out. But don’t forget to rest and chill your dough!
These rugelach are perfect for spring, for Shavuot, or just because homemade rugelach are delicious.
Notes: These will store well in an airtight container for up to 1 week at room temperature, and will freeze well for up to 3 months.
For the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/2 pound cream cheese, chilled and cubed
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
raw sugar, for decorating
For the strawberry filling:
3/4 cup good strawberry jam
2 tablespoons sour cream
3 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1. Add your cubed butter and flour to your mixer with the paddle and attachment and mix until the butter is broken up well and the mixture looks like wet sand.
2. To the mixing bowl, add in the salt, cream cheese, sour cream and sugar. With the paddle attachment on medium speed, mix everything together quickly, until the mixture is crumbly, wet and mostly coming together.
3. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of foil, press down on it slightly, and form the dough into a thick disk. Wrap the disk tightly in the foil and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
4. Make the filling: Using a stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat the sour cream, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and salt on low speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice and mix to combine. Taste filling — add more juice if needed. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic and refrigerate until ready to use.
5. When your dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 375 F. and line a few baking trays with parchment paper.
6. Sprinkle the parchment paper with some raw sugar.
7. Remove the dough from the fridge and unwrap the dough. Flour your work surface extremely well, roll the dough into a ball, then press it down until it’s about 3/4-inch thick. The sides may crack a bit at first, but just keep working it until you have a smooth sided disk, adding more flour as needed.
8. Roll the dough out into a 13- to 14-inch circle of even thickness.
9. Fold the dough into a half-moon and use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut away any uneven sides, as you want the circle to be as symmetrical as possible for even cookies. Unfold the dough so it’s a full circle again.
10. Brush the dough with the cheese filling and then top with the strawberry jam. Swirl the jam over the cheese.
11. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the circle into 16 equal-sized wedges.
12. Roll up each wedge, starting with the bigger side, tightly and carefully, to make the classic rugelach shape. Place the rugelach seam side down onto your parchment.
13. Brush each cookie with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar.
14. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through baking, until the cookies are a nice golden brown. Allow to cool before moving and serving.
Chaya Rappoport is the blogger, baker and picture taker behind retrolillies.wordpress.com. Currently a pastry sous chef at a Brooklyn bakery, she’s been blogging since 2012 and her work has been featured on The Feed Feed, Delish.com, Food and Wine and Conde Nast Traveler.
The Nosher food blog offers a dazzling array of new and classic Jewish recipes and food news, from Europe to Yemen, from challah to shakshuka and beyond. Check it out at www.TheNosher.com.