There is nothing better than learning how to cook from a Jewish mom. You eat, you watch, you take some samples home. I felt very much at home in Amy Rubin Schottland's South Orange kitchen as I arrived for a Rugelach demonstration.
These baked pastry treats are perfect for the High Holy Days she explained. They're sweet for a sweet new year and, since the recipe calls for both cream cheese and butter, these treats are dairy, ideal for breaking the fast. Rugelach is a delicious dessert that you make in advance and, best of all, it is super easy. As Amy pointed out, these treats also freeze well.
As we prepared to bake the sweet pastry, Amy told me about her parents. Her father was a rabbi and her mom was an avid cook. In fact, her mom co-wrote a book, A Good Cook's Companion- A culinary dictionary of useful definitions, facts, equivalents, and information.
Amy teaches at Livingston's Newark Academy, incorporating food into teaching whenever she gets the chance. In fact, she won a food contest right in the school cafeteria for her mandelbrot. She claims hers is the best recipe- maybe we can request another demonstration from Amy in the future! I had a sample and it was delicious. She also taught music at Temple B'nai Jeshurun for years.
Amy is an advisor to a gourmet food as well as a Jewish club at Newark Academy. Her son Elliot is a serious baker who creates new breads almost weekly using healthy organic ingredients. I was fortunate to sample that as well.
In spite of her busy schedule, Amy agreed to meet with me to demonstrate how to make Rugelach. She pointed out the importance of having quality ingredients at room temperature. Hers is a time-tested recipe; she has tweaked it over the years, but shared her very best version with us.
I can't wait to replicate these in my kitchen. Amy prefers the classic filling of sugar, cinnamon and walnuts. I would definitely add the apricot since I like the delicious tang it provides. But the sky is the limit.
If you have any favorite fillings or a recipe for Rugelach, please share. In the meantime enjoy Amy's recipe and the video demonstration.
Adapted from Joan Nathan by Amy Rubin Schottland
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (Amy recommends Philadelphia)
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup confectioner's sugar (no lumps)
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
¾ cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raw sugar
3 tablespoons powdered cinnamon
Apricot jam, optional
1 egg white, beaten
Filling, cinnamon, sugar, walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
1. Mix cream cheese, butter, confectioner's sugar, salt, lemon juice and vanilla in an electric mixer. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Add flour and continue beating till all the ingredients have mixed well and soft dough is formed.
3. Divide the dough into 3 parts forming into disks. Refrigerate for an hour- at least. This dough can be frozen at this point for future use.
4. Roll out into a large circle (8 to 9 inches in diameter) and about 1/8 to ¼ inch thick. Sprinkle with walnuts, sugar and cinnamon.
5. Divide and cut the pastry into 8 parts and roll each part starting from the outside in.
6. Place on parchment paper and add egg white on top and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
7. Refrigerate 10 minutes before placing in oven.
8. Bake for 25 minutes.
9. Remove, cool, enjoy!
A version of this appeared in September 2010.