Rugelach Bakealong: Challenge #15

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Welcome to our inaugural Best of Bakealong challenge, where we revisit some of our most popular challenges from the past two years. We invite you to bake this month’s recipe, Rugelach, then share a photo of your creation, tagging it #bakealong. If you’ve already mastered this recipe, explore our new twist on this favorite classic. 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

It's time to ramp up your fancy 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. The Baker's Hotline

      We like the idea, Rita, but we think that lemon curd and sweet cheese combination might be just a little bit too loose to act as a filling for rugelach. If you’re determined to go ahead and try it, we’d recommend adding 2 tablespoons of Instant ClearJel to the sugar that’s mixed with the filling ingredients. This will help the filling set and will make it less likely that it’ll weep out during baking. Good luck! Kye@KAF

  1. Jennifer

    If you use the food processor method, do you still want your butter and cream cheese to be at room temperature? Or should they be cold so that the dough bakes up flaky?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Room temperature, Jennifer! It’ll give you a smoother mixture and your food processor will be grateful as well. Annabelle@KAF

    2. Jennifer

      OH. MY GOD. These are SO GOOD! Like little mini croissants filled with sweet, nutty filling. I used a scotch whisky orange marmalade to brush the dough and baked them to a beautiful golden color. Incredibly tender and flaky. I can honestly say these are one of the best things I have ever baked!

  2. Kathleen Kindred

    Made the rugelach today. Two with the raisin, walnut mixture and one with the chocolate. The taste was as good as any I’ve had at bakeries! Just need to perfect my technique as they looked a bit sloppy.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Regular yogurt is typically a bit thinner than sour cream, so if you’d like to use it you might consider draining the yogurt through a cheesecloth briefly. This will help separate some of the whey, which might otherwise make your dough too soft. Alternately, you could add a tablespoon or two of additional flour to the dough, but our first option would be to drain the yogurt slightly. Be sure to use an unsweetened, unflavored variety for best results. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  3. Jean

    Planning to try these soon for a “tea” with friends. Any suggestions for savory fillings? Thanks

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We sure do have savory filling suggestions, Jean! We have so many ideas, we even have a full blog post about this topic called, “Baking Savory Rugelach.” The author, Posie, offers some mighty delicious combinations, including cheddar cheese and pecan; fig, walnut, and blue cheese; bacon, egg, and cheddar; pumpkin and parmesean; garlic, ricotta, and herb; basil pesto and sun-dried tomatoes… the list goes on! Kye@KAF

  4. Dianne Miskelly

    I melt down seedless blackberry jam and spread that over the dough. Then I top it with brown sugar, cinnamon, chopped pecan, and mini chocolate chips. Don’t put too much jam on the bottom or it will melt out too much. Definitely use parchment with this combination

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Sharon, feel free to use our Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour to replace the all-purpose flour in the recipe if you need your rugelach to be gluten-free. Additionally, you can follow the tips outlined here for baking at altitude. Good luck, and if you come across any snags feel free to give our Baker’s Hotline a call: 855-371-BAKE(2253). Kye@KAF

  5. Gigi

    My filling seems to be too gooey. I add flour and it spreads better. I’ve made these with dates and walnuts. Today I’m making the double apricot. I’m not sure the apricot filling needs lemon juice. I think some lemon zest would be better. Just a suggestion.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Gigi, it sounds like you might be mixing your filling just a bit too much in the food processor if it’s become gooey or paste-like. If you’d like to try using the cranberry-walnut filling listed here without adding flour, try just briefly pulsing the mixture until it’s crumbly. Your double apricot filling sounds lovely; we’ll have to give it a try with some fresh lemon zest. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  6. Joanne

    Thanks so much for this delicious recipe. I made the raisin, cinnamon and walnuts with raspberry ram, chocolate chip,walnut ,cinnamon and raspberry jam and lastly cinnamon chips, chocolate chips and raspberry jam. Using the bench knife was genius on my my silicone mat. I’ve made rugelach before but your tips made the process so much easier. Thank again.

    Reply

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