Rugelach are tiny crescent-shaped rolled Jewish pastries, a crossover between a croissant and a cookie. They are traditionally filled with jam, chocolate spread, raisins, nuts, or just sprinkled with brown sugar.
My in-laws, who live in Mumbai, have been staying with us in London this summer and it’s been challenging. Sharing your home with elderly people who come from a completely different cultural background, have very different eating habits (they are vegetarian and are used to only eat Indian food) and with whom you can communicate very little because of the language barrier.
It’s been challenging to keep them entertained in London, a city they don’t feel capable of exploring on their own, mainly because of language barriers and because it is such a huge city. They spend most of the week at home, so the pressure is on for me and my husband to make every weekend count. My mother-in-law cooks everyday and of course it’s always vegetarian recipes from Mumbai, Maharashtra or Gujarat. And so, I had the idea to take her to a PYO farm to pick fruits and vegetables, and guess what? She loved it!
Last summer, I had gone to a PYO farm in Buckinghamshire with some friends and I loved the experience. This summer we chose a farm closer to home: Garsons Farm in Esher, Surrey. They have an incredible range of fruits and vegetables to pick: apples, raspberries, blackberries, beetroot, broccoli, carrots, cabbages, cauliflower, onions, potatoes, sweetcorn and sunflowers. We picked a lot of Victoria Plums too, which were in season and incredibly juicy and sweet.
When we arrived back home that evening with ten bags full of fruits and vegetables. I went straight into my kitchen to start making plum jam with all the beautiful, juicy plums we had picked. I followed my mum’s jam recipe; we used to have a plum tree back home in Rome and my mum would make kilos of jam every summer.
I found the recipe for rugelach – which I had never tasted before – in Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Deb shares a recipe for Raspberry Chocolate Rugelach, which I changed slightly: I substituted white flour with spelt flour, I used my homemade plum jam for the filling, and I didn’t use chocolate chips.
Rugelach are tiny crescent-shaped rolled pastries traditional in Jewish cooking. The name literally means “little twists” in Yiddish. They are made with a cream cheese dough and can be filled with preserves, chocolate, raisin, nuts, or just sugar.
The rugelach recipe originates from the Jewish communities of Poland. Nowadays, rugelach are a very popular pastry in Israel. I saw them in many food markets, cafés and bakeries in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
For the plum jam
- 900g plums (washed, stoned and quartered)
- 550g sugar
For the dough (yields 48 rugelach)
- 230g butter, softened
- 230g cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 50g caster sugar
- 200g spelt flour
- 50g plain flour (plus more for dusting)
For the filling
- 300g plum jam
- 100g granulated sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 3 tbsp pecans, roughly chopped
For the egg wash
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tsp water
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
Make the jam a day in advance. Place a pan with plums over moderate heat and cover with the lid. Bring to a simmer and, stirring from time to time, cook until softened for about ten minutes.
Turn the heat to very low, remove the lid from the pan and add the sugar. Stir until has completely dissolved. Increase the heat to a boil and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the jam has reached setting point.
Leave to cool for five minutes, then pot into hot, sterilized jars and seal. Store in a cool, dark place.
Make the dough. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy. Add flour, sugar and salt and beat on a lower speed until well combined. Wrap the dough into a large piece of cling film and refrigerate for at least two hours, or up to three days.
Preheat oven to 180°C. Prepare your three fillings: heat the jam in a small saucepan until it simmers, then set aside. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Chop the pecans.
Divide the chilled dough into three equal parts (keep two part in the fridge while you work on the first one).
On a well-floured counter, roll the dough into a large, thin circle about 30cm in diameter. Spread three tablespoons of jam across the dough, then sprinkle three spoons of cinnamon sugar and one of chopped nuts.
Using a pastry cutting wheel, cut the dough into sixteen equal pieces. From the outside of the dough, into the tip of the triangle, roll each section of the dough.
Transfer the rugelach to an oven tray lined with baking paper and space them 2.5cm apart. Place the tray in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Before baking, brush the rugelach with the egg yolk wash. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the rugelach are golden brown and puffed. Transfer them to a cooling rack while they are still hot, to avoid them sticking to the paper. Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.