Canadian cookbook author Bonnie Stern has gained something of a reputation for her rugelach. Chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi have come to expect a bag of her cream cheese dough rugelach, filled with apricot jam and nuts, whenever they are in Toronto. But Bonnie has another rugelach recipe, one which she shares more selectively, including with our partner the Jewish Food Society. This 100 years old recipe comes from her aunt Lillian and is made of yeasted dough filled with meringue and walnuts, “it comes out so light it just melts in your mouth” says Bonnie. “It’s very different and really special.”
1 cup (225 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 egg yolks
For the filling:
¼-⅓ cup finely toasted walnuts, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 egg whites
½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted into a shallow bowl or plate
Prepare the pastry: mix the lukewarm water and sugar in a cup, sprinkle the yeast and stir to dissolve. Let the mixture stand 5-10 minutes, until bubbles form on the surface and it doubles in volume.
Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on the lowest speed until you see small pebble-sized pieces of butter in the flour. If using your hands, cut the butter into small pieces using a pastry blender or your fingertips.
Stir the yeast mixture, then add the egg yolks and mix to combine. Add the mixture to the flour and mix to a sticky dough. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces, shape each into a ball and flatten with your hand to 10cm/4-inch disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The following day: preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it stand in room temperature for about 15 minutes, so that it softens slightly and is easier to roll.
Prepare the filling: Combine the walnuts with the cinnamon in a small bowl. Using a hand mixer, place the egg whites in a clean glass or stainless-steel bowl and beat to a light and opaque mixture. Add the sugar gradually, beating until stiff peaks form.
Roll a piece of dough on a lightly floured surface to an approximately 30cm/ 12-inch circle, (don’t worry if the circle isn’t perfect). Using a sharp knife or a pizza roller, cut the dough into 12 equally-sized wedges. Place ½ – 1 teaspoon of the meringue on the wide end of each wedge and sprinkle the cinnamon and walnut mixture on top.
Fold the dough over the meringue filling and, starting from the wide edge, roll tightly towards the tip. Place the rugelach on a tray lined with baking paper with the tip facing down. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. If you’re not planning on baking immediately, keep in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
Bake the rugelach until golden brown, 20-22 minutes.
Using your fingers, if they can stand the heat, 2 forks or a pair of tongs, transfer the rugelach directly from the oven to the powdered sugar and toss to evenly coat. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy them while they last!