Holiday baking traditions: Rugelach

Rugelach is probably one of the most widely known and cross-cultural of Jewish baked goods and treats. The name rugelach is believed to be derived from the Yiddish “rugel,” meaning royal. Rugelach are also called kipfel, cheese bagelach, and cream cheese horns, depending on where you are in the world.

Many Eastern European recipes for rugelach call for a yeasted dough made with sour cream, for flavor and tenderness. This more American version calls for no yeast and uses butter, sour cream, and cream cheese to make a very rich dough.

Our beloved Andrea, one of our test kitchen bakers, has a family member who, when you arrive chilled after a long winter’s ride, will toss a blanket in the dryer and then wrap you up in warm fuzziness. I think these fragrant, sweet cinnamon twists give you the same feeling of warmth, comfort, and family – all in one tasty bite.

Let’s make Rugelach.

Place all of the dough ingredients in the bowl of a large food processor. Break up the butter and cream cheese into lumps, to enable them to incorporate more easily.

Pulse the mixture about 8 to 10 times, until the dough comes together in a rough ball. Be careful not to over-process; the dough should still look shaggy.

You should also be able to see pieces of butter and cream cheese in the dough. This is going to make your dough oh-so-light and tender.

Turn the dough out onto the counter and gently press it together into a ball.

Divide the dough into even portions. For small, bite-sized rugelach, make four discs. For larger twists, divide into thirds.

Wrap the discs in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, or up to overnight. A good timeline is to mix the dough and filling up after dinner; then you’ll be ready to roll and bake first thing in the morning.

To make the filling, give the food processor bowl a quick wipe out, and add the filling ingredients.

Pulse until well combined and slightly moist. You can also mix by hand, but I think the processor does a better job, and cuts up the raisins a bit. To me, this makes the twists easier to roll up.

Set the filling aside, covered with plastic wrap.

When you’re ready to make the rugelach, remove one disc from the fridge and leave the others chilling. Lightly dust the work surface with flour and press the disc out with your rolling pin.

Can you see the lovely swirls of cream cheese and butter in the dough? As those bake, the steam created will puff the dough into light, flaky layers. The fat will melt as well, and make these twists melt-in-your-mouth tender.

Using a gentle touch, roll the disc into a 10” circle.

Brush the dough with a touch of water, and sprinkle on about 1/3 of the filling. If you divided your dough into quarters, use about 1/4 of the filling; you get the picture. Press the filling down into the dough a bit to help it stick.

Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife, divide the circle into 8 even sections. Beginning at the fat end of each wedge, roll rugelach up loosely.

You should end with the pointed tail tucked under the body of the roll.

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, point side down. This will keep the little tip from unrolling and burning.

Bake the rugelach in a preheated 350°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. As the rugelach bake, the butter will lightly fry the bottoms, making a crunchy crust and caramelized base.

Golden brown and delicious. Allow the tender rugelach to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a serving tray and dusting with confectioners’ sugar.

Enjoy these sweet, fragrant twists with coffee or tea – and, of course, family and friends.

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Rugelach.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Darlene, if by “plain”, you mean salted, then the answer is a definite yes. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to lower the amount of added salt by 1/4 tsp per stick of salted butter used. Mollie@KAF

  1. Barbara Klemish

    Your recipe does not specify room temp butter, or cream cheese. Do you make with cold ingredients?
    Sorry for any confusion. Yes, the ingredients should be cold. ~ MaryJane

    Reply

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