Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rugelach: Baking With Julia

The first pick of March for the Baking with Julia group turned out to be Rugelach.  I had made Rugelach before, just once, and loved them, so I was excited to try this recipe.  Traditional rugelach are made in the shape of a crescent with the filling being rolled up in little triangles of dough.  This is how I made them before, and it would've been easier to just deviate from the recipe and form the rugelach the traditional way, but then I wouldn't be trying something new, so my husband and I rolled our Rugelach jelly roll fashion as the recipe instructed.

Our hosts for this recipe are Margaret of The Urban Hiker and Jessica of My Baking Heart.  If you'd like to try making these Rugelach yourself, you can find the recipe on their blog post today, and you can also see how their Rugelach turned out as well!

The first component of the filling for these Rugelach was Lekvar.  I know, what a strange, kind of gross sounding word for something that supposedly tastes good.  An easier short-cut would've been to just use jam or something in the recipe, but I wanted to know what lekvar tasted like.  My husband and I chose to make the prune lekvar, since he is not too fond of apricots.  I made our lekvar up several days ahead of when we made the cookies.
It doesn't look appetizing, but it didn't taste bad.  The dried plums by themselves are rather bland and of course very chewy, but the lekvar was pleasantly sweet from the sugar that was added in making it.  The lekvar is just prunes, a smidgen of lemon juice, sugar and some finely chopped walnuts.

The actual rugelach cookies were a joint project that both hubby and I participated in.  I thought it was so sweet of him to offer to help me.  He is the best hubby in the whole wide world in my opinion!

First off we had to make our cream cheese pastry for the rugelach.  This was just cream cheese, butter, salt, sugar and flour mixed together in our stand mixer.  This finished, the dough went into the refridgerator for several hours.  While the dough was chilling we got together the rest of our filling 'stuff'.
For the nuts, I let him choose, and he wanted just hazelnuts and almonds.  Here's my trusty partner peeling the skins off the toasted hazelnuts:
Now we were ready for assembly.  The dried fruit we chose to use was blueberries, cranberries and a few currants.  The bowl in the far right corner is our cinnamon/brown sugar/sugar mixture.
First layer going onto our pastry dough is the prune lekvar,
then the cinnamon/sugar mix, next the dried fruit and lastly the chopped toasted nuts.
Now comes the tricky part,
...rolling the whole thing up jelly-roll fashion starting with the long side.  Did we do this right?  It seemed that a five inch width did not provide enough dough to roll up into a log and we had terrible trouble pinching the whole thing shut.  We didn't put on all the nuts and fruit called for, because we could see it was going to be difficult to roll.  All the topping tends to dam up at the end where you're trying to roll to.  I think next time we agreed that we would probably make a much wider and shorter rectangular piece of dough to spread our filing out on so that we'd get more 'spiral' effect to our cookies:)
After spending the evening in the refrigerator our log was nice and firm and we were able to egg wash it, slice it, and roll it around in our cinnamon/sugar/chopped nuts mixture.  Hubby did a thorough job of covering ours in the sugar mixture so that we'd have nice caramelization.
Oh, they smelled so good while they baked.  We made them first thing in the morning, so they were reminescent of cinnamon rolls in the oven.  The sugar made a beautiful little pool of golden goodness under each of the rugelach.  Normally I would break off crusty appendages like this, thinking they were unsightly, but not this time.  These were awesome little cookies.  We sampled them while still warm and gooey inside.  

The pastry part was light with a slight crunch and the whole thing did kind of resemble the flavors of a cinnamon bun, especially when eaten warm.  The filling was full of nice contrast, with the creamy lekvar, the crunchy nuts, chewy fruit all surrounded by a cinnamon-ey sweetness.  Very satisfying!

We still have more dough in the freezer so we'll be experimenting next weekend with modifying our rectangular shape for easier rolling, but other than that issue, we thought these were easy to make and a delight to eat as a husband and wife team.

Do check out how the Rugelach turned out for others in the group by going here.


  1. I love all of the step-by-step photos! And I'm impressed; even though you said you had a difficult time rolling them up, yours look way more tightly rolled than mine!! What a sweet hubby you have; mine only offers to help eat. ;) ;)

  2. Jelly roll style rolling is always a challenge but yours turned out great! How nice that Hubby is in the kitchen working with you!

  3. I had the same problem when rolling up the dough -- there was so much filling that closing the seam was a problem. It looks like yours turned out really well. Plus, props for having a spouse who will deal with de-skinning the toasted hazelnuts!

  4. These did kind of remind me of little cinnamon rolls - great analogy.
    Help is always a bonus when in the middle of a baking project :-)

  5. your rugelach looks great!

  6. They're very pretty indeed, Mel! :)

  7. Great photos and flavor combinations. Glad you enjoyed them!