Rugelach are delicious cookie-sized crescent shaped pastries – traditionally made with a yeast leavened dough containing sour cream, wrapped around some sort of sweet filling (walnuts, cinnamon, raisins, poppy seed, marzipan, jam, etc.). Although they are quite simple to make, they look very impressive and are the perfect little treat to go with afternoon tea or morning coffee!
It is thought that this pastry (a Jewish pastry of European origin) along with the French Croissant may have evolved from the crescent shaped pastries typical of Vienna, Austria. European versions of rugelach typically contain yeast and sour cream, while American recipes tend to omit the yeast and substitute cream cheese for the sour cream. The recipe below is a more traditional European style rugelach.
One batch will yield 64 mini-pastries.
Sour Cream Pastry:
- 3 c. flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1 c. unsalted butter (2 sticks)
- 1 c. sour cream
- 1 c. sugar
- 1 T. cinnamon
- 3/4 c. finely chopped walnuts (or mini chocolate chips)
1. Make the pastry a day (or at least several hours) before you want to make your rugelach. Put the flour, salt, and yeast into the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to sift.
2. Cut the butter sticks into quarters, and add to the food processor. Pulse the butter into the flour mixture until you have a coarse sandy texture.
3. Dump the mixture into bowl, and add the sour cream.
4. Stir the sour cream into the flour mixture to create a soft, sticky dough.
5. Place the dough into a gallon sized ziplock bag, press out the air and seal. Refrigerate overnight or several hours.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together. You will divide this mixture into fourths – use 1/4 cup cinnamon sugar for each dough quarter.
7. Chop the walnuts very fine. Divide the chopped walnuts into 4 even portions.
8. Portion the dough into 4 equal pieces. (Start with the first two pieces, and put the other 2 back in the refrigerator to keep cold – it’s easier to work with the dough when it is chilled.)
9. Using your hands, roughly shape the first dough portion into a flat disk. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, flip over, and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar. (You will be using the cinnamon sugar to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter - do not use flour.)
10. Roll the dough out into a rough 15 inch circle, sprinkling with the cinnamon sugar and flipping as needed. (Make sure you use the entire 1/4 c. of cinnamon sugar. If you have any sugar leftover, sprinkle the rest over the top of the circle before proceeding to the next step.)
11. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the dough circle into 16 wedges.
12. Sprinkle the wedges with 1/4 of the chopped walnuts (or mini chocolate chips). Press the walnuts gently into the dough.
13. Starting from the large end of the wedge, roll the dough up to form a little crescent roll, ending with the point on the bottom.
14. Place the 16 unbaked rugelach onto a silicone lined baking sheet, and bake for about 18-20 minutes. (Repeat with the remaining dough.)
15. Remove the rugelach onto a wire rack or cutting board to cool before serving.