05 Jan2009

Rugulach a la Sister

by Marketman


Years ago, Alan, the office manager, brought rugulach from a bakery deep in Brooklyn whenever he was invited to dinner. He wouldn’t bring more than half a pound, even if I offered to pay for it. So I became interested in making them myself. This is a classic rugulach, I’ve tried other fillings but I think this is my favorite and my panel of tasters concur. The kosher recipe probably uses vegetable shortening but the butter gives it a better flavour and mouth feel. If you are observant just use vegetable shortening like Crisco instead of butter and add 2 tbsp. more flour to the dough.


1 lb. (2c) butter
1 lb (2c.). cream cheese
1/4 c. sugar
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
19 oz. flour (4c.) unsifted all purpose flour
plus 3 tbsp. flour for sprinkling


1/2 lb. (1 1/4 c.) currants or dark raisens
1/4 c. rum
11 oz sugar ( 1 1/2 c.)
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 lb. (1/2 c) butter melted
1/3 lb. (1 1/2 c.) walnuts or pecans chopped finely not ground

1 beaten egg

Soak the currants in the rum in a covered jar for several hours or overnight. Stir occasionally. This prevents it from becoming like pebbles in the rugulach.

Leave the butter and cheese at room temp for 10-15 min. until malleable.
In a large bowl beat the cheese, butter and sugar and vanilla. just to mix, about one minute. It’s okay if you can still recognize streaks of butter and cheese.
Add flour, beat on lowest speed just until incorporated, about one min. Scrape down sides of bowl.
Do not over mix or dough will become tough.
Divide dough into 6 portions, about 9 oz. each. Chill for 10- min. in freezer while you cut out wax paper.
Cut six 12″ long pieces of wax paper and set aside. Cut 6 more 10″ pieces and fold and cut into 10″ circles. This will guide your rolling out the dough.
Sprinkle each portion of dough with the additional flour and flatten into a disc on the 12″ piece of wax paper.
Cover with one 10″ circle and roll out the dough into a ten inch circle. You can adjust the paper if it has wrinkles or the dough to fill in open spaces. It will be about 1/4″ thick.
Stack the rolled out dough and refrigerate for 1 hr. or more until stiff.
Mix sugar and cinnamon for filling.
Take out one circle at a time. Peel off paper and place dough on board.
With a sharp knife cut into 12 pie shaped wedges. Retain circle shape.
Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with 1/4 c. of sugar mix, currants and nuts on the outer 3″ edge of the circle. Thump filling down lightly with your palm or a rolling pin.
Roll each wedge tightly starting fron the wide end. Filling will move towards the tip. Tuck tip under and place on parchment lined sheets. Foil lined is good, too. It should look like a small croissant. Save any filling that falls out and add to next circle of dough.
Brush tops lightly with beaten egg.
Bake in preheated 375 F oven on middle rack about 14-15 min. until bubbling and brown . Do not underbake.
Cool completely in pan before removing. Serve same day, will be good for 3 days refrigerated.
Makes 72 pieces or approx 4 3/4 lbs.
Note: Dough can be frozen in rolled out circles and kept for 2 weeks before filling and rolling and baking.

Marketman’s note: I have eaten these several times and they are DELICIOUS. I have never personally baked these but will attempt to make them sometime this year!

Recipe by Sister. Photo by Nephew.



  1. alicia says:

    Oh yay! Thank you! All the recipes I have used ( Dorie Greenspan and Barefoot Contessa) include apricot jam in their filling which while good too makes the cookies extra sticky. Like an id**t I never thought to try making them without.. will try.. today! Thanks Sister!:)
    I must say the original filling like this recipe is my favorite too. Favorite “bakery-bakeries and not patisseries” used to be Royal Pastry when it was open and Michael Greenberg Desserts ( where it costs a weeks salary for a pound of cookies! he he), can you recommend any other bakeries in Manhattan that carry these? Also looking for good recipe for black and whites ( my current recipe to doughy) and rainbow cookie (marzipan). Hmmm! now I am craving for some babka, gotta get NYC off my mind!

    Jan 5, 2009 | 8:27 am


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  3. sister says:

    I’ve tried the apricot jam version and it’s just too messy unless you get commercial grade apricot filling which is thicker, almost like paste. I bought cookies from Greenberg’s for many years but then Greenberg sold out to a large corporation and their goods are now baked in NJ and the recipes have been changed and are mostly god awful. For example their white linzer cookies no longer contain almond flour, totally changing the crumbly texture and flavour. Boo!
    Will give MM a babka recipe, maybe we should start holiday baking on Columbus Day like a friend who packed her freezer with baked goods in October and left plenty of time for Christmasing. But I like everything fresh so I bake the day of serving.

    Jan 5, 2009 | 3:52 pm

  4. marissewalangkaparis says:

    Wow sister,this is an addition to my “must try” recipes which I placed on hold due to the holidays and balikbayan visitors. Sounds delish. Will try! I have all the ingredients but have to recover from bad colds first..Happy New Year Sister!!Salamat!!

    Jan 5, 2009 | 6:06 pm

  5. corrine says:

    Looks really yummy but also looks like very challenging to make in Manila weather…though a bit cool at night.

    Jan 5, 2009 | 10:41 pm

  6. sister says:

    Corrine, Just keep the dough in the freezer and only take out one circle at a time, this can be made in Manila without a doubt, just return to freezer if it gets too soft. The dough is very sturdy. You can also freeze the formed rugulach on trays, wrapped in foil or cling wrap for later baking.
    Rugulach is a staple in bakeries and delis across NY but it’s difficult to find a good one, I tast them everywhere I see them sold, in the interest of research. One of the worst is at Zabar’s.

    Jan 5, 2009 | 10:52 pm

  7. Mimi says:

    Thank you for the recipe, Sister! My mother has been asking me to make these since she saw Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten’s rugelach recipe on tv, but since I do not have the recipe I’ve never tried. I just have to get cream cheese and I’ll be baking them soon.

    Jan 6, 2009 | 9:31 am

  8. Maria Clara says:

    I’m really impressed with Sister’s baking skills. I can picture Sister’s kitchen must be like the Food Network kitchen with the mixer in full swing and the oven at its full capacity.

    Jan 6, 2009 | 1:26 pm

  9. Michelle says:

    Some places sell kosher butter. Butter makes everything taste better!

    Jan 6, 2009 | 2:02 pm

  10. Liz says:

    Sister, you must be the baker in the family! I would love to try your rugalach recipe one day. Thanks~

    Jan 7, 2009 | 8:52 am

  11. corrine says:

    sister, thanks for the tip! Will surely try this. I am amazed at your energy and passion to bake these lovely, lovely goodies!

    Jan 7, 2009 | 6:20 pm

  12. Melizza says:

    I once tried making rugulach after watching barefoot contessa. I may have been impatient (or just too novice) because my dough didn’t hold up. It turned up tasting good, pero yech ang itsura kasi punit-punit. I’m sure to try this new recipe – hope before january ends. thanks!

    Jan 9, 2009 | 1:56 pm

  13. corrine says:

    Melizza, try the tip of Sister above. That’s the problem with baking in the Philippines. It’s too warm!

    Jan 10, 2009 | 2:08 pm


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