Friday, September 26, 2014

Rugelach: Gifts for the New Year

 A recipe for resolution...and rebirth


L'Shanah Tovah! Belated as it may be, it's Rosh Hashanah! In honor of the Jewish New Year, I've made some potentially appropriate Rugelach for sharing with others!

To clarify for those who may not know, Rosh Hashanah is the Head of the New Year in the Jewish tradition, marked by both looking back on the past year and recognizing the shortcomings and errings committed, and also looking forward to a good new year to come. You can read more about the holiday here. It's not quite equivalent to the Western New Years, as it traditionally holds a holier and more religious value than most January celebrations, but it does share the making of resolutions as a commonality.

And the celebrations!

Many foods traditionally served during Rosh Hashanah are sweet or fruity in nature, which are to hopefully bring about a sweet new year. Round Challah is also more traditional than not, the circular shape symbolizing both the life cycle as well as the crown signifying God as a royal presence.

In recognition of the lack of posts, I will say briefly that there has been a lot going on in my life related to why I haven't updated this blog very much (err, in additional to the general laziness that surely plays some role...). I plan to post more about that later; I don't really want to take up what's meant to be a celebratory and culturally significant post with my personal problems. That being said, I expect I'll have to get my act together and start writing once this holiday season is over -- likely after Sukkot.

Now, let's get back to the food....

In all honesty, I would have liked to bake an apple-honey Challah bread for the holiday, but I'll be the first to admit that I chickened out. Yeast and I... well, we don't always see eye to eye... And because I was actually baking for my friend (who would be taking whatever I happened to produce to a party that evening), I figured I ought stick with something a little...more reliable.

Et voilà, these Rugelach were born! I got the recipe for the dough from Reeni over at Cinnamon-Spice & Everything Nice. If I were you, I would run right over there to check out her other recipes! She definitely has a lot that I want to try...but of course haven't the resources for as of yet... I also used the stand mixer instead of the food processor, but feel free to use her method too. Where I worked, we always made our pie dough in the stand mixer, so I guess it's kind of a habit...
Chop yours at least a little finer than these for best filling!

Given that I wasn't making Apple Cake or Apple Bread...I decided to fill these (well, half of them) with cinnamon and apple preserves. You can fill them however you want, though; it's just a suggestion! Actually, Reeni's nut filling is delectable, but nuts are a little outside the budget right now (sad as it is...).

So let's get started! Because you're going to have to chill the dough and the filling, I would say it doesn't matter too much which you choose to make first. You could also make them both in advance and assemble/bake them some hours later. That's completely up to you and what your time allows :)

Actually, before we do...let me say one more thing about the baking............. You will be tempted to underbake these because of the browning they'll endure. Resist. The egg wash and sugar are causing the brown, but they're not burnt. In order to illustrate this...I sacrificed one to the cause; in short, I burnt his butt!
Not Burnt

See what I mean? Black is bad; brown is good! Additionally, if the filling leaks out and gets black (burns), do not panic! Really, please don't -- I'll feel bad... You can just pull/cut/scrape it off, and I guarantee you the rest of the cookie will be just fine.

Rugelach -- Adapted from Cinnamon-Spice & Everything Nice
 Yield: 32-64 cookies, depending on size


  • 250g all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 224g cream cheese, cold and cubed
  • 240g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 egg yolk, cold
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 Apple Cinnamon Filling
  •  300g apples, preferably granny-smith or other tart variety (about 2 1/2 cups), peeled and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 144g brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons apple juice concentrate (frozen - be sure it is 100% juice)
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons low or no-sugar needed pectin (see notes for substitutions)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger*
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom*
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg*
  •  1 egg
  • turbinado (raw cane) sugar, or a mix of 1 part cinnamon with 1 part turbinado
  *Spices are to your taste. You can also use 1 1/2 teaspoons of any pie spice blend

  1.  Sift flour and salt together into the bowl of  a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir together a minute or so to fully incorporate
  2. Add the cubed butter and cream cheese to the bowl. Mix on low speed until the butter and cream cheese have been flaked into the mix. The mixture should not be mealy (in many little balls) but instead have flattened flakes of butter*
  3. Add yolk and vanilla. Mix until a dough comes together. If the dough seems a little sticky, that's all right; it will be partially due to the increased temperature of the ingredients 
  4. Divide dough into fourths, then shape each fourth into a disc. Wrap tightly and chill for at least 30 minutes 
  1.  Toss the apples with the lemon juice and salt. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Once melted, add the apples and saute around 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until softened
  2. Add brown sugar, apple juice concentrate, and water. Add pectin and stir until fully dissolved. Bring the mixture to a full boil over high heat, stirring constantly, and boil hard for 1 minute. Filling should thicken but still be liquid - like a syrup 
  3. Remove from heat and cool a few seconds. Stir in vanilla and spices
  4. Transfer the filling to a bowl and cool a minimum of 30 minutes (to room temperature) or chill completely before use
  1. Line baking sheets (you'll need 2-3) with parchment paper. Working with one disk at a time, place dough on a well floured surface. Roll out to an 8-9" circle; about 1/8" thick
  2. Spread 1/4 of the filling over the entire surface of the circle. Using a pastry wheel, pizza cutter, or a sharp knife, cut the circle into wedges (I cut into 16, but you can cut larger wedges for larger cookies)
  3. Carefully roll each wedge into a crescent, starting from the long side of the wedge and ending at the tapered end. Once rolled, place each cookie on the prepared sheet pan. These cookies don't spread very much, so you don't have to worry about them all melding together in the oven. 
  4. Once you have filled one cookie sheet with cookies, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Chill the cookies for 20-30 minutes before baking, during which time you can roll the other disks of dough
  5. Whisk egg in a small bowl. Brush the top of each cookie lightly with the egg wash, and sprinkle with turbinado or cinnamon sugar. Bake until risen and golden-brown, about 20 minutes. Turn the cookies once at about half way, and use your senses to determine the rest of the baking time (believe me, you will know!)
  6. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Best served day-of


  •  You can substitute 2 Tablespoons cornstarch for the pectin. To substitute, combine the cornstarch with the water before adding to the mixture. This will help prevent clumps
  • Alternatively, you can fill the cookies with chocolate, as I have for some of them: chop up any chocolate that you have very fine and follow the same filling procedure

Be advised! These cookies will go from...

This plate full of indulgent wonder.... this scattered array of lonely crumbs...

In a matter of time spanning but a few moments... be sure to get yourself some before then!

As always, thank you all for reading! I hope to be more consistently back on here in the future! Have a wonderful holiday!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Lovin' Bloglovin'

This will just be short and sweet... Got myself up on Bloglovin' (yes, I still have very little clue about this whole blogosphere...) so I have to post that link up north of here in order to claim my blog. Maybe I'll be famous people.... Or you know, maybe this will inspire me to actually update.

I read a very inspiring post by Cookies and Cups that really got me thinking about what I want from this blog, and moving forward I think that is what I want to shape it all around. This place is for me to post my baking endeavors, get out everything I want to say with no associated ear for it on my end, and ultimately laugh at my own jokes (feel free, anyone, to jump in).

I think that I had a different idea, as per usual, that I have to operate a blog for everyone else's enjoyment, but now I see that's kind of backwards, especially for such a small little blog. I feel better now, and I want to post soon - for me!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Love in the Air and Slow Cooker Strawberry Bread Pudding

It's February! And we all know that means the month of Valentine's day! Now, I do hope this will not be the last post I get to before the 14th, but in the event that it is....I'll make sure it's nice and festive!

So a lot has been going on with me, which is probably why this blog isn't nearly as complete as it could be... I finally finished my Nurse Aide course only to realize that I wanted absolutely nothing to do with that sort of work, and so now I'm in the waiting game to sign up for more courses at the local CC to study what I actually care about. Hopefully the biochem courses don't fill up too quickly before I have a shot at them, because I definitely don't want to pay a four year Uni price for things I can get out of the way here...

So, here's hoping that works out. I've settled on nutrition and dietetics basically after 1000+ people have told me not  to do it, and elaborated on (well actually, didn't elaborate much on) why it would be one of the worst ideas I could possibly imagine (way to put a damper on things, right?), and you know, I am rather discouraged simply by the fact that I've wasted this long not going forward with it. I really do need to stop taking advice...well meaning or not -- it tends to frazzle me...

In any case, that brings to light another concern which Dinero. Argent. Whatever you want to call it, it eludes me in all its forms. I have been trying to get a job and it has been one Hellish battle; near enough to make me quit if I wasn't desperate. I guess I don't know the proper ways to go about getting one since clearly other people have more success than me...but I have to work with what I have in any capacity.So with any luck things will turn around in that department and I'll be able to focus less of my energy on worrying about it. In theory, of course.

In lighter news, I've been getting very deeply into DIY of all sorts as I am finally putting the house (and my room) together -- it's a wonderfully relaxing feeling to have things...settled, and just the way you want them! Plus it gives me something to do, and feel like I'm saving gobs of money by resisting the urge to by the expensive non-knock-offs in the shops. If I were a wealthy person, I can picture the sense of power associated with paying ridiculous amounts of money for material things...but I'm not in  a position to entertain those notions, as I've said.

I will definitely be blogging along with my crafts as well! I just have to get myself a little more focused.

Anyway, on to the recipe!

So I'm really not one to buy bread at the store, but I volunteer at my local cafe all the time, and each time I do they insist I take things home -- like the bread from the morning that they are otherwise going to throw away. Well, of course I can't refuse such an offer (actually I've tried many a time, always unsuccessfully) and so I find myself with a whole lot of bread just sitting on top of my refrigerator waiting to either be used or, sadly, mold.

In my efforts to conserve (waste not, want not!) I have devised another bread pudding -- I say devised because I sort of made up the "recipe" as I went along. I think it came out wonderfully, and was so easy because of the fact that I made the slow cooker!

Without further ado....let's make some Bread Pudding shall we?! Like I said, this is perfect for using up leftover bread, so long as it's got enough of a crust to it to withstand being in the cooker for a few I wouldn't recommend using any Wonder-bread-shaped things for this... Get a nice artisan French or mild Italian loaf if you can, and you know, I think most grocery stores even have their own versions in the fresh Bakery departments... I used Pagnotta, which is a sort of round Italian loaf that tastes a little like a cross between Ciabatta and Miche... Basically, it's a country loaf. 
Pagnotta, courtesy Google Images
Look! There's one now!

Strawberry Bread Pudding

  • 1 loaf stale country bread, cubed (or torn for that rustic look...) 
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries (I used Dole sliced strawberries -- they come in a huge bag from Sams')
  • 2 cups milk (dairy/non-dairy doesn't matter -- whatever you have on hand)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup sugar, preferably real cane or turbinado - this will depend on preference and the quality of sugar that you use. If you use white sugar, you will need to add more for the same sweetness
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, grade B if you have it
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • coconut oil, for the pot and for dabbing (solid)
  1. Combine the milk with the lemon juice and set aside to curdle. In the meantime, melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl (or carefully on the stove) being mindful not to burn it (which can easily happen -- browned is ok but'll know, believe me)
  2. In a very large bowl, combine the cubed bread and strawberries.Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and toss with the bread in order to coat as evenly as possible. Reserve a little of the cinnamon sugar mixture to top the pudding with, or just make more when the time comes...
  3. Combine the beaten eggs with the milk, then add in the orange juice, maple syrup, and butter, making sure to whisk constantly to avoid scrambling the eggs (people would have you believe that can't happen once they're combined with the other stuff but...I have proven its possibility!)
  4. Pour the wet ingredients over the bread mixture and gently combine, making sure not to stir roughly or you'll tear the bread into too small pieces. I have the best luck with a folding motion.
  5. Grease the interior of your slow cooker with coconut oil (generously). Carefully add the pudding mix to the slow cooker, and dollop with more coconut oil as much or as little as you want on top (the heat will melt this into the mix as it cooks - yum!). Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar over the top.
  6. Here's the important part (which I will forget, believe me); plug in the slow cooker. Then, cook on low for about 7-8 hours. Be careful when you're opening it back up because it will be hot, and there will be quite a mist of hot air from all the moisture. 
  7. Serve warm or cold.
Bon appétit!

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