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Rugelach, Redux (Again)

I’ve already shared two [1] very wonderful rugelach [2] recipes on my site, so who do I think I am writing about a third? Well, this one is my favorite. I think. Who knows, I’m fickle. But the world can never have too many recipes for rugelach.

These are from the Bar Tartine book (which I love, see Gift Guide [3]), though for various reasons I had to adapt these to work for me, lil ole’ me without kefir butter or home dried fennel flowers. To be honest, no stages of the recipe worked as smoothly as I would have liked them to work, and there is a major typo in the recipe that is published in the book. But despite all of that, here I am. Maybe that will convince you of how delicious these are? I hope.

The problems:

1. The amount of butter in recipe is wrong, if you are going by grams. It says 112 grams or 1/2 pound. Those are not the same thing. Luckily I caught this. It should be 1/2 pound, or 224 grams. Why are Tartine folks so bad at editing their books? There was a shortbread recipe in the last book that was so jacked up I don’t understand how it made it through any editors. But I digress.

2. I don’t understand the custard that you make early on in this recipe for the poppyseed filling. It has you adding lemon juice to warm milk, which of course makes it curdle. I forged ahead, making a weird custard from curdled milk, and it was totally fine—but I am honestly not sure what is supposed to happen here.

3. I substituted all of their dairy for stuff you could buy at the store, and used fennel pollen. The recipe below reflects this.

4. The recipe has you roll the dough out into a 1/4″ thick rectangle, but it doesn’t tell you anything about the dimensions of that rectangle. I suppose in some ways it doesn’t matter. I winged it, and was fine, but my rugelach were all too tall and fell (3 & 4) over in the oven. I actually liked the way they looked, but I think the few of mine that didn’t fall over had better texture (1 & 2). In the future I would probably divide the dough in half and roll each into a rectangle that would be easier to control.

The rewards:

1. These are fucking awesome. ESPECIALLY, in the first 15-45 minutes out of oven while still a bit warm. They’re like, among the best things ever. They’re still delicious the entire day they are baked. They lose like 20% of awesomeness overnight and continue to degrade about 10% of goodness every 6 hours after that. But, this is life with whole grains and this sort of pastry.

2. I mean, what other rewards are you expecting from a cookie?

Do you guys like poppyseed filling? I’m Polish, so it has always been a part of my life. I don’t know if everyone is down with it. You could substitute jam, but I am not going to vouch for these if made with jam. I think that the alchemy of the whole grains and poppyseeds and honey is very specific. I do however think that this poppyseed filling would be delicious in whatever dough you normally use for rugelach.

So, this is probably the recipe with the most caveats I have ever posted. Sorry. Or not? I love these so much.

Rugelach (adapted from Bar Tartine [4] by Nicolaus Balla and Cortney Burns)

Poppyseed Paste

Dough

Eggwash (an egg beaten with a splash on milk and pinch of salt)

Make the poppyseed paste:

In a spice or coffee grinder, pulse the poppyseeds in batches for 15-20 seconds until broken up and powdery. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the milk, sugar, honey, lemon juice and zest (this is when curdling happened for me), and salt, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar and honey are fully dissolved. In a medium nonreactive bowl, whisk the egg. Gradually pour the the hot milk mixture into the egg, whisking constantly. Add the egg mixture back to saucepan  and set the pan over low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture turns yellow (I don’t know what this means, why would it turn yellow?), and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk the poppyseeds and salt into the warm mixture. Let cool completely before using. This can be made up to a week in advance, store in the fridge.

Dough:

In a food processor, combine the all-purpose flour, rye flour, kamut flour, sugar, fennel pollen, salt, and pepper and process briefly to combine. Scatter the chilled butter over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture is crumbly, and looks like coarse grain. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer, add the cream cheese and sour cream, and mix briefly until a smooth dough forms. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours, or for up to 24 hours.

On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to a rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Spread the poppyseed paste in a thin layer over the dough. Starting from a long edge, roll up the dough into a log. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. (Here, I brushed my log with eggwash and sprinkled it with sugar—up to you.) Cut the log crosswise into pieces 1-inch thick. Arrange the pieces cut side down on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2-inches between rugelach. Bake until dark golden brown, 15-25 minutes.

OKAY, when I make these again I will continue to update with notes and ways I have found to simplify this. You too, please? I am curious to hear if people have the same problems I had.