This post is coming to you via my sister’s basement in ‘sunny’ Vernon, British Columbia. As always, it’s the 30th of the month and though I’ve made this month’s Around the World in Twelve Plates recipe, I’ve left the post until now to complete. We had a wonderful, but quiet Christmas at home, then traveled across the Rocky Mountains to be with my family for New Year’s. It’s quite the undertaking for the host family (and I do it a lot because I live in the ‘half way’ spot between British Columbia and Saskatchewan) because there can be anywhere from 10-15 family members sleeping over for an extended amount of time. That’s a lot of hosting, cleaning, entertaining, and cooking. The great thing is that we all do our part to relieve some of the burden. We each take turns doing grocery runs, alternating shifts for cooking and dishes. It’s usually my (unspoken) job to provide the sweet treats for the goodie tray and every year I bake up several family favourites along with some new ‘experiments’. This month’s ATW12P country was Hungary (as voted on by all the participating bloggers who chose between Malaysia, South Africa, and Hungary) and I was excited to bake my family something new and Hungarian for our time together. Bear with me here. I know that Rugelach is not Hungarian. It’s actually a Jewish pastry usually made with sour cream or cream cheese and filled with any number of fillings such as raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, chocolate, marzipan, poppy seed or fruit preserves. What I really wanted to make, to pay homage to my Hungarian grandmother, was a poppy seed roll. It’s one of the very few Hungarian dishes I ever remember her making and I thought it would be a great way to begin exploring my Hungarian culinary heritage. However, I didn’t think one large poppy seed roll would be practical or be as pretty on a goodie plate as individually rolled poppy seed rolls. The canned poppy seed filling I had in my pantry contained a delicious mixture of poppy seed, raisins, and small bits of orange rind and I think it was much more flavourful than just poppy seed. It’s funny how memories are coming back to me as I write. I was lazy and used canned poppy seed filling but my grandmother had no such luxury. I can still see her now, filling her grinder with poppy seeds and hand grinding them until they formed enough paste to spread over the dough. It took a great deal of time and made a bit of a mess, especially in her later years when she was not as dexterous as she was in her younger years. I have the feeling that if she had had access to canned poppy seed filling, we would have had poppy seed roll more often. Then again, would it have been such a treat?
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces cold cream cheese; cubed
- 2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter; cubed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 900 g can poppyseed filling or batch filling
- Powdered sugar
- Combine the flour and salt. Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse several times to mix.
- Mix in the cream cheese and butter. Scatter the cubes of cream cheese and butter over the flour. Pulse until coarse crumbs form, 10 to 12 pulses.
- Mix in the yolk and vanilla. Whisk the vanilla and yolk together in a small bowl. Drizzle over the butter-flour mixture. Process until the dough starts to clump together and form large, curd-like pieces.
- Refrigerate the dough. Transfer the dough out onto the counter and gather the pieces into a ball. Divide into 4 portions and flatten each into 1-inch-thick disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months (thaw in the refrigerator before using).
- When ready to bake the rugelach, preheat the oven to 375°F. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Meanwhile, prepare the fillings.
- Roll out the dough. Sprinkle your work surface generously with powdered sugar. Take 1 disk of dough from the refrigerator and let it warm on the counter for 1 to 2 minutes. Unwrap and then sprinkle the surface of the dough and the rolling pin with more powdered sugar. Roll the dough from the center out into a circle about 1/8-inch thick. Don’t worry if a few cracks form near the edges. Use more powdered sugar as needed to prevent sticking.
- Spread with filling. Spread the filling in a thin layer evenly over the surface of the dough. Make sure it goes right up to the edge of the dough.
- Cut and roll the cookies. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 wedges, like a pizza. Beginning at the wide outer edge and moving inward, roll up each wedge. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Make sure the tip is tucked underneath.
- Chill the cookies. Refrigerate cookies on the baking sheet, 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare remaining batches.
- Bake the cookies. Bake the first tray of cookies until golden-brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on the sheet, 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack. Bake the remaining cookies, using the same parchment paper but making sure the baking sheet is cooled between batches.