My first boyfriend was Jewish. Growing up in a small homogeneous community, and being sort of culturally insensitive myself, pretty much all this meant to me was that I would occasionally be invited to lovely dinners on days I was not expecting it, and that older generations would comment on how I was too skinny. This last part was almost exactly like every big Italian family gathering we had, so I always felt sort of at home.

As an adult, I ran a kosher bakery, and that’s where I was really introduced to the nuances of the Jewish calander, and the attendant baked goods. It’s also where I discovered that no matter where I got my recipes or ingredients – even if I got batters straight from the kosher distributer in Chicago – most of my customers would complain that the baked goods didn’t taste quite right. Everybody wanted it to taste like their mothers or grandmothers baked goods, and everybody’s family did things a little differently, of course. In particular the Honey Cakes for Rosh Hashanah would tie me in knots. I can’t tell you how many variations I tried until finally one of my customers confessed that the problem with my versions was that they “tasted good.” I guess honey cake is meant to be like fruit cake or something. A necessary evil.

All this by way of saying that I absolutely do not vouch for the authenticity of this recipe at all, but it is great rugelach for goyim. I love it. It’s crazy simple, I usually have the ingredients easily on hand, and it is a nice lower sugar treat for the kids. I made mine without nuts or raisins, and it was still great.

A few quick notes:

  • The dough needs to be cold, but not too cold when you roll it up.
  • Leave at least an inch at the bottom of your roll so jelly doesn’t squirt out.
  • When it says to cut through 3/4″, really do it. It will help the baking.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup apricot preserves or raspberry jam
  • 1 cup loosely packed golden raisins, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups walnuts (1/4 lb), finely chopped
  • Milk for brushing cookies

Whisk together flour and salt in a bowl. Beat together butter and cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined well. Add flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Gather dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap, then flatten (in wrap) into a roughly 7- by 5-inch rectangle. Chill until firm, 8 to 24 hours.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line bottom of a 1- to 1 1/2-inch-deep large shallow baking pan with parchment paper.

Cut dough into 4 pieces. Chill 3 pieces, wrapped in plastic wrap, and roll out remaining piece into a 12- by 8-inch rectangle on a well-floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Transfer dough to a sheet of parchment, then transfer to a tray and chill while rolling out remaining dough in same manner, transferring each to another sheet of parchment and stacking on tray.

Whisk 1/2 cup sugar with cinnamon.

Arrange 1 dough rectangle on work surface with a long side nearest you. Spread 1/4 cup preserves evenly over dough with offset spatula. Sprinkle 1/4 cup raisins and a rounded 1/4 cup walnuts over jam, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar.

Using parchment as an aid, roll up dough tightly into a log. Place, seam side down, in lined baking pan, then pinch ends closed and tuck underneath. Make 3 more logs in same manner and arrange 1 inch apart in pan. Brush logs with milk and sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon of remaining granulated sugar. With a sharp large knife, make 3/4-inch-deep cuts crosswise in dough (not all the way through) at 1-inch intervals. (If dough is too soft to cut, chill until firmer, 20 to 30 minutes.)

Bake until golden, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool to warm in pan on a rack, about 30 minutes, then transfer logs to a cutting board and slice cookies all the way through.

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About christianathomas

I'm a working mother of two trying to make eating well fit into our hectic lives. I also used to own a completely chaotic bakery. Follow me for tips and tricks on how to get more whole foods into your diet.
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