Rugelach Bakealong: Challenge #15

bakealong-logoWelcome to our October Bakealong challenge. Each month, we’ll announce a new recipe for you to try, along with helpful tips and step-by-step instructions here on our blog. We invite you to bake this month’s recipe, Rugelach, then share a photo of your creation, tagging it #bakealong. Enjoy!

Is it a pastry, or a cookie? Rugelach — buttery, tender dough wrapped around any variety of tasty fillings — perfectly straddles the line. Popping one of these treats into your mouth feels like a bite of pie, an edge piece that’s as much crust as filling. Flaky, fruit-filled Danish comes to mind, too. Your overall impression is RICH: from its cream cheese pastry to the sweet combination of nuts, fruit, and/or chocolate inside, rugelach is the perfect cookie for a special occasion.

Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

And special occasions are exactly what the next three months are going to be filled with. From Halloween to Thanksgiving (both Canadian and American) to Christmas and Chanukah (or choose your favorite holiday), you’re facing a crowded schedule of family celebrations and gatherings with friends.

It's time to ramp up your holiday cookie game, starting with this rugelach #bakealong challenge. Click To Tweet

Begin with the crust

This dough is wonderfully supple and easy to roll out — so long as you keep it cool. Let it warm up, and it’ll be annoyingly sticky. So definitely chill the dough thoroughly before using.

16 tablespoons (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (6 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflourTo make the dough using a mixer: Beat together the butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and salt until smooth. Add the flour, mixing to make a stiff dough.

To make the dough using a food processor: Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse briefly to combine. Cut the butter and cream cheese into chunks and add to the bowl along with the sour cream. Pulse just until the dough forms chunks, and you can squeeze it together.

Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Divide the dough into three equal portions. A scale is your tool of choice here.

What, not baking with a scale yet? Once you start, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without one!Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Press each piece of dough gently into a disk.Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Make the disks as round as possible, smoothing their edges; this will allow you to roll them into perfectly round circles, making the resulting rugelach more attractive.

Wrap the disks in plastic, and chill the dough for about 1 hour, until it’s firm but not rock hard. Or chill longer (up to overnight), then warm for about 45 to 60 minutes at room temperature, until the dough softens enough to roll without cracking.

Make the filling

While the dough is chilling, let’s get our filling ingredients together.Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

There are lots of tasty options for filling rugelach. I’ll show you one here, plus share a few others at the end of this post. Feel free to come up with your own ingredient combinations, as well.

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or currants
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
water for brushing doughRugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Process the sugar, walnuts, dried fruit, and cinnamon in a food processor or blender until finely chopped and well combined (but not pasty).

Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Don’t have a food processor? Chop everything with a chef’s knife. Or simply stir together the filling ingredients; your filling will be chunky rather than smooth.

Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Assemble the cookies

Working with one piece of dough at a time, place it on a generously floured surface. Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Roll the dough into a 10″ circle.

Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflourBrush it lightly with water.

Or, for a flavorful touch, brush the rolled-out rugelach dough with boiled cider, or warmed apple or currant jelly, instead of water.Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Use your fingers to spread about one-third of the filling onto the round.

Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Make sure to go all the way to the edges, gently patting the filling to help anchor it to the dough.Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Using a pizza cutter, baker’s bench knife, dough scraper, or sharp knife, divide the dough into 12 equal wedges. If you’re working on a silicone mat, as I am here, be careful not to cut the mat; the dough scraper is your safest bet if you’re worried.

For smaller rugelach, divide the dough into 16 wedges. But if you’re a rugelach rookie, you might want to stick to 12 wedges. The more wedges you cut the longer it takes, the warmer the dough becomes, and the stickier it is to work with.  Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Roll each wedge up, beginning with the wide end and ending with the narrow end. Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflourThe more wedges you roll, the more space you’ll have to spread everything out; it gets easier as you go.Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Place the rolls point-side underneath on a baking sheet; lining the baking sheet with parchment will help with cleanup.

Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflourBrush the rugelach with milk or cream, and sprinkle with granulated or coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired.

Preheat the oven to 350°F; refrigerate the rugelach while the oven is preheating. This short chill in the fridge will help solidify the filling, which in turn will help keep it from leaking out as the cookies bake.Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Bake the rugelach

Bake the rugelach for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and let them cool right on the pan.

Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

See how the granulated sugar on top caramelizes? Nice!

Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Store leftover rugelach in an airtight container at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

More rugelach fillings

I promised you some alternate fillings, didn’t I? Here they are. Each makes enough for one-third of the dough, so feel free to mix and match various fillings using a single batch of dough.

Dark chocolate: Whisk together 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder; add 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, if desired. Sprinkle atop rolled-out dough. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) mini chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate.

Double apricot: Process 1/2 cup (3 ounces) chopped dried apricots, 3 tablespoons (2 ounces) apricot jam or preserves, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and a pinch of salt until the apricots are finely chopped, but the mixture isn’t totally smooth.

Apple-cinnamon: Combine 2/3 cup (about 4 ounces) peeled, grated apple; 2 teaspoons lemon juice; 1/3 cup (2 3/8 ounces) sugar; 2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) cornstarch, and 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a small saucepan. Stir to thoroughly combine. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the apple starts to release its juice. Increase the heat to medium, and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring, until the mixture thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool to room temperature; if you want to hasten the process, place in the refrigerator.

Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Rugelach filled with chocolate ganache

Create your own rugelach fillings

I had some leftover heavy cream to use, so whipped up a ganache using 1/4 cup heavy cream and 2/3 cup chocolate chips. After chilling the ganache long enough to thicken it, I spread it on one of the dough circles, then cut, rolled, and baked.

I also made tasty rugelach from just plain marmalade, which is thick and chunky enough that it doesn’t leak during baking. Another tasty combo: raspberry jam sprinkled with chopped dark chocolate and nuts.

What sounds good to you? Top rolled-out dough with water, jam, or syrup to anchor the filling, then sprinkle with your favorite combination of chopped dried fruit, nuts, and/or chips. Let us know what you come up with!

Rugelach Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Baking gluten-free?

We’ve got you covered! This recipe works very well when you substitute Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour for the all-purpose flour called for. The dough may crack just a bit as you roll it out, but simply smooth the cracks and continue; the cookies will be fine.

Make & freeze

Both the rugelach dough and shaped, unbaked rugelach can be made ahead, wrapped, airtight, and frozen up to 4 weeks before using. For best results, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, wrapped, before using.

High-altitude adjustments

Do you bake at altitude? Check out our high-altitude baking tips.

Take the Rugelach Bakealong challenge!

Are you ready to take the challenge? Read this post on your favorite device, or print the recipe. And when you’ve finished, remember to post your photos, tagged #bakealong. We’re looking forward to seeing your delicious (and creative) rugelach!

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Marcia Bresson

    My husband is going to be VERY happy. These are his favorites !!! Does the weather matter at all when making these? I have a “cheater” recipe that just doesn’t work out if it’s warm.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Marcia, the warmer your kitchen, the more challenging it will be to work with the rich dough. If you’re able to keep everything cool, though, the recipe is really quite simple and straightforward. I’ve tested these a lot, and really do love making them; so simple, yet so rich and delicious! Good luck — PJH

  2. Margy

    I do the lazy method. Roll the dough out into a sheet, spread with the filling, roll like a jellyroll, cut like cinnamon buns, stand on their sides and bake.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Margy, a lot of bakers do it that way — they’re just as tasty. I always say, there are many paths to any delicious destination… PJH

  3. MB

    I have never thought of rugelach as something that needed a recipe since it was just what my mother did with leftover pie crust. 🙂 However, these look delicious and I will be baking several variations soon!

    Reply
  4. Judy alton

    I absolutely LOVE rugelach spread with pumpkin butter and walnuts. Autumnal deliciousness! The suggestion of spreading with boiled cider sounds wonderful.

    Reply
  5. Dana

    What do you think about taking frozen solid pre-shaped rugelach, putting them in my checked luggage (re, should stay cold) in WA state, flying to NC and then baking when I arrive at Thanksgiving? I figure they’d be in my bag for 8-10 hours. If they’re still cold when I arrive, ok to bake, but if room temperature, toss?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We think you’re one seriously dedicated baker, Dana! If you’re determined to have rugelach ready to bake (rather than preparing the cookies once you arrive), you can try preparing the cookies up until baking and then freezing them solid as you suggested. You’ll want to store the frozen cookies in a container with a few ice packs to prevent them from melting and getting soft during transit. Try to store the cookies in a single layer if possible, to prevent them from squishing one another. Another option to consider is bringing the baked cookies with you. Between the dried fruit, nuts, filling, and pastry-like dough, the rugelach stay fresh and tasty for quite a few days. We know there’s some appeal to baking things fresh on Thanksgiving day, so we understand your desire to make this happen. But keep in mind if it gets to be too much to travel with unbaked rugelach, you can always carry a tin of the baked cookies with you. Either way, enjoy! Kye@KAF

  6. Roxann - PA

    I can’t wait to make these! This is my third month participating in the bake along and I have loved everything I’ve made. Thanks for such great recipes.

    Reply
  7. Trina Foster

    I am so excited about this month’s #Bakealong ! I have been looking at recipes to make this for the last week, and it pops up on my Facebook feed today. I cannot wait to get started!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Deb, you can replace up to 25% of the of the all-purpose flour with almond flour (1/2 cup). Almond flour is gluten-free, which means it needs to be used alongside another flour that will help hold the dough together (like all-purpose). If you’re looking to bake gluten-free, you can use our Measure for Measure Flour to replace the all-purpose flour in the recipe. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You bet, Brenda! That’s a variation that we tried during testing, and we can report it was 100% delicious! We added a little bit of crushed hazelnuts on top of the spread. Yum! Kye@KAF

  8. Kym Lach

    I’ve made this recipe many times with great success, and created my own filling of chopped fresh dates, salt-free pistachios, grated orange peel, a pinch of cloves and salt, and a splash of rose water. (*If* it’s not quite moist enough to hold together I’ll add some honey.) Just blitz everything in a food processor! At least my family and I think it’s delicious, and the little things definitely don’t last long in my house =)

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Kym, what an imaginative filling! Sounds very Middle Eastern, with the dates and rose water. It’s fun to think up new fillings, isn’t it? Glad this has become a favorite of yours. — PJH

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Yes, Sue – wrap them well and try not to leave them in the freezer longer than 4 weeks, but that will work fine. Enjoy! PJH

  9. Lorraine Fina Stevenski

    I love Rugelach cookies. I discovered a technique to make the pastry more like a croissant with flaky layers. On a lightly floured surface pat the whole piece of dough into a rectangle. Fold into 3 like a letter, pat again. Turn the dough 1 turn and again fold into 3. This creates layers that puff up when you bake the cookies. Then measure into separate dough disks and refrigerate at least 1 hour. I like to refrigerate overnight as the dough relaxes and is easy to work with. I use this same technique when making biscuit dough. Happy baking!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Lorraine, that’s a good touch, adding those folds; as you say, it created more flaky layers. Thanks for sharing your expertise (and obvious rugelach experience) with all of the aspiring rugelach bakers out there. PJH

  10. pegg

    I’m going to try this! How do you sub your white whole wheat flour or whole wheat flour to this recipe? Trying to find more recipes using these flours!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for your enthusiasm, Pegg! In a recipe like this one, we’d recommend subbing our White Whole Wheat Flour for no more than 50% of the total flour called for in the dough. It will add a bit of delicious nutty flavor, but in any larger quantities, it may make for a heavier, denser pastry. For more tips on incorporating White Whole Wheat into your baking, take a read through our online guide. We think (and hope) it will help you feel empowered to use this versatile flour more broadly! Mollie@KAF

  11. Audrey

    I have a dough recipe (very similar) that I love, but the recommendation to food-process the chunky filling ingredients is going to improve my rugelach no end! The apple-cinnamon filling sounds lovely!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Audrey, finely chopping the filling ingredients is indeed a help in preparation; and also helps keep the filling inside the pastry once they’re baked. Enjoy! PJH

  12. LPool

    I wondered if I could prepare these a day ahead of time and then bake them off in the morning? Or would it be better to just make the dough ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator and roll out, fill and bake the next morning. What would your suggestion be?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Prepared rugelach can rest in the fridge for up to 24 hours, noting that the sugar in the filling may get slightly “wet” as it sits. The dough won’t get soggy, but the rugelach may be slightly sticky and/or the filling might leak out of the cookies a bit. If an overnight rest works best for your schedule, feel free to give it a try. The cookies will still turn out delicious. Otherwise, you can refrigerate just the dough and roll out/fill the rugelach the next day. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  13. Kevin McCarthy

    Oh man. I just made these and I cannot stop eating them. They are really, really good. A bit fiddly (my rolling skills are truly awful). So I have some that are bite size and some that a bite size for Godzilla.

    I saved a round of dough, since my baking sheet was full, and promised the boy-child that I would make a batch tomorrow with chocolate chips and nutella.

    Reply
  14. sandy

    I have a dough recipe I love. It is just like PJ’s but with a bit of sugar and a little vanilla. This is a very helpful post and I did take away three new things. Like Audrey I did learn to food-process the filling. I always had trouble with the filling falling out of the cookie. Not now. I also always used preserves on the dough to anchor the filling. But when the cookies were baking the preserves leaked onto the sheet and often burned. So I had a nice cookie with a little ring of burned preserves around the bottom. This time I used a little water to keep the ground filling in place and no burned stuff. The third thing I did differently because of this post was to use Lorraine’s suggestion to fold the dough. Worked great.

    Reply
  15. Suzanne R.

    Love these! I followed the recipe as written, brushing a thin layer of boiled cider on the round of dough before distributing the filling – seemed to help the filling to “stick” as I rolled up the individual treats. So impressive once baked – thanks, PJ, for the encouragement and helpful hints!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We sure do, Pennie. It’s a savory version of rugelach, which we hope you’ll like: Savory Pumpkin Parmesan Rugelach. If you’re looking for something sweet, you can omit all of the savory ingredients and instead add brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice to taste. Kye@KAF

  16. Marilyn Raff

    Hello PJ,
    It just so happens that I baked rugelach today! I had made my dough a few days earlier and froze it. My recipe came from an old cookbook I had before I married, back in the day, as they say. The recipe was 1/2 lb. butter, 1/2 lb. cream cheese and 1 3/4 cup flour. I cut it in quarters, and roll it like you do, and fill it will much of the same ingredients. But, I bake mine @ 375 for 20 + minutes. Have you ever tried rugelach this way? The dough is really smooth, never sticks, and very easy to work with. Next time I’ll have to try it with sour cream. thanks, Marilyn

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Marilyn, that’s very rich dough indeed! Richer than the one I’ve been using. So long as you keep it pretty cold, it should be easy to handle, right? I haven’t baked mine at the higher temperature you use; not sure if there’s any advantage (other than speed), but conceivably the higher temp. could yield a “puffier puff.” I’ll have to try that sometime — thanks! PJH

  17. Priscilla Rae

    These were amazing! I made them yesterday and they were very easy and fabulous. I used plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream since I forgot to buy the sour cream. I brushed boiled cider on the pastry and used cranberries instead of raisins. Now I am thinking about mince meat for a stuffing at Christmas. I am also going make my Cuccidati cookie stuffing (dates, figs, raisins,walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts soaked in brandy) into a rugelach this year. Thanks for such a great recipe!

    Reply
  18. Beth

    I’d like to make these here in Denver (5280 ft). Looking at the altitude adjustments, I’m thinking I’ll need to raise my oven temp to 375 and bake for 15 to 20 min? Would you increase liquids and/or flour?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for your interest in giving this month’s challenge a try, Beth! Not being at altitude ourselves, we’re not able to provide tested adjustments for individual recipes, but we have compiled a High Altitude Baking Guide which can help get you headed in the right direction. It may take some experimentation to determine the ideal adjustments for your exact climate, but an increase in oven temp and decrease in bake time both often help. You may also find that additional liquid is needed to bring the dough together. Best of luck experimenting and happy baking! Mollie@KAF

  19. Julie

    Yup ! Easy and versatile, I can see how great these would be with savory versions like pesto and sun dried tomato! I filled mine with the apple filling suggested (it’s fall after all) and a chunky cherry jam from our farmers market. I’ve never made these before, it’s been fun learning about them.

    Reply
  20. Rose Mueller

    I made these Rugelach a couple days ago. They are excellent. For our 50 years of marriage my husband has been trying to describe a favorite cookie made by a family friend each Christmas before we married. I have attempted many recipes that”sounded ” like his memory cookie. I am happy to say that he said ” I think you finally found the recipe”. I made as stated except his were bigger, so I only cut into 8 wedges, and for the filling used only brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon and some butter to hold it together as this was as he remembered . So thanks for this recipe. It’s a keeper for us.

    Reply
  21. Sharyn Sowell

    Can’t wait to try this! As a celiac baker, I really appreciate your including the gluten free option on many of your recipes. Since gluten free baking is always tricky, I always try to bake by weight and since the cup for cup weighs different than wheat flour, it would be great if you’d specify the weight for gluten free flour like you do for wheat so we can make sure we’re following your recipe precisely.

    Thank you for making baking possible again!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It’s our pleasure to be able to offer this option whenever we can, Sharyn, and we certainly appreciate the desire to measure accurately. The really good news is that our Measure for Measure Flour weighs out the same as our All-Purpose Flour: 4.25 oz or 120 grams, so it’s “measure for measure” by weight or by volume. Hope this helps! Mollie@KAF

  22. Ariel

    Great recipe, I’m learning in the process. Made one batch for three consecutive days. First was dark chocolate, came out nicely. Husband thought filling didn’t stand out as much as the cookie. Next Apricot, he loved those and I noticed that the cookie was more flaky. Third day back to chocolate ganache, oh yeah my favorite. The cookie was the flakiest this time. Ganache was messy to work with so I think I will pre-cut the dough, then use spread then roll. I consider this recipe a success! Going to give Lorraine Stevenski (in comment section) method a try.

    Reply
  23. Ellen Oppenheimer

    Wow did you screw up this recipe! It’s not only the ingredients and the process. I know KA has a hard time with ethnic recipes. I have taken many of the baking classes and I am consistently impressed with technique, but not product. You just missed and don’t get it.
    This is one of my family’s heritage cookies. Your photo shows how poor your dough is. Our pastry is light and flaky. Our fillings are rich in flavor. This is not danish like. It is strudel like.
    You need to take a class with ME!

    Reply
  24. Aaron Frank

    PJ, perfect timing. I’ve been contemplating rugelach for a while and need to make some this week. Why the choice of butter, cream cheese, and sour cream? I’ve seen several recipes which use butter and cream cheese but have one recipe that is all butter. I have a sour cream chocolate cake recipe that never, ever is dry so that addition seems good too.

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Aaron, we like the tiny bit of tanginess the sour cream adds, and the rich taste of cream cheese, so why not add them to the butter for a more nuanced flavor? I’d suggest you try this recipe first and then, if it’s not to your taste, definitely try other versions. There are probably as many different ways to make rugelach as there are families who make it! Cheers — PJH@KAF

  25. Danita Day

    I plan to freeze some of the rolled unbaked cookies for Thanksgiving. Should I put the sugar topping on before I freeze or before baking? -thanks

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      Danita, hold off on the sugar until you’re ready to put the rugelach in the oven. It will just absorb moisture in the freezer and make the top soggy. Susan

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