Week 3 and we're doing something I've never baked before. Rugelach! I have to admit that I was initially not enthusiastic about this project. There are three reasons for this.
1. I have tasted really crappy rugelach—tough, greasy, tasteless...
2. The dough in this recipe seems suspiciously similar to the tart dough from last week.
3. Prunes! ('nuff said)
I am happy to report that my fears were unfounded. Homemade Rugelach is delicious. The dough is very easy to work with (more like a biscuit dough than a pie dough.) And the prune filling was delicious (not at all like the prune juice I had to drink after my son was born.)
The full recipe is here. Be warned though. This is not a difficult recipe, but it is time consuming. And it makes a lot! I froze half the batch.
But let's get started. First, you have to make the filling(s). I made the prune lekvar and the apricot lekvar. Basically, you put the fruit in a saucepan, cover it with water and simmer until the fruit is tender. Meanwhile, I toasted the nuts for the filling. I used walnuts, pecans and almonds. Be sure to toast each type of nut separately, unless you like the taste of burnt pecans. I drained the fruit and put it into the food processor with the other filling ingredients.
Let's talk for a minute about prunes. I know they're supposed to be this great gourmet thing (think armagnac and fancy French cooking), but I can't help but embrace my inner third-grader when I hear the word "prune." Hee, hee. Let's just agree to call them dried plums from now on.
I processed the ingredients and mixed the nuts in, until smooth. I didn't need to add any additional liquid to keep these spreadable. The dried plum (hee, hee) is dark and glossy and the apricot is a pretty, sunny, orange.
The dough is pretty easy to put together. Put three sticks of butter and 12 oz. of cream cheese in a bowl and beat it with the sugar.
Nobody said this was a low fat recipe! Add the flour and mix on low, just until it comes together. Somebody said it should look like cauliflower. Gluten is your enemy with this recipe, so mix it very gently, like you would with biscuit dough.
Divide it into two, flatten it into two rectangles, wrap it in plastic and stick it in the refrigerator. After a couple of hours, you can get all of the ingredients together. My countertop was full of bowls. It's easier to just show you. I've labeled the picture.
I rolled the dough (which was very easy to work with, although very firm.) Don't forget to heavily flour your rolling pin and surface. This dough will be sitting on the counter for a while, since it gets about 27 different toppings (okay, not really, but you get the idea.)
Lekvar gets spread on first. Pretty, right?
Then we sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar, and then the dried fruit and coarsely chopped nuts. You roll from the long end. I used my metal ruler to help unstick the dough from the counter, and get the roll started. These didn't roll that tightly, since they were so stuffed with fruit and nuts.
Then you repeat the whole process with the second piece of dough. You'll have four rolls. Luckily, they all fit on one baking sheet, since I barely found room for one in my crowded fridge. When I got them out the next morning, the filling had wept a little, but it didn't seem to matter.
First, I brushed them with an egg wash, then cut them into one inch sections and tossed them with cinnamon-nut-sugar mixture. Then I placed them on a baking sheet (cut side down), and baked them at 375° F for 30 minutes. I did double the cookie sheets, to ensure they didn't burn. They didn't all come out perfectly. Several collapsed, and their fillings oozed out. They were still tasty, just not very pretty.
These are very rich, but not too sweet. The pastry was delicate, although not that flaky. I think the apricot version is a little tangier than the dried plum one. They were very good with coffee, and I'll be eating them for breakfast all this week. I gave half to Mom and Dad, since I had to pick them up at the airport today. Predictably, neither Kevin nor my son will try them. Kevin's not a fan of dried fruit and the little guy won't try anything that has too many odd ingredients. As far as I'm concerned, they're missing out.