When baking rugelach, there seems to be two schools of thought on how to approach the dough. And within those formulas, there is the crescent or roulade shape and a variety of filling combinations. Who knew rugelach had so many options? Well, here I am to throw in another-a rugelach dough made with white whole wheat flour, and freshly ground at that. I spent a week experimenting to get the dough I wanted, and even the less-than-perfect batches were still a sweet little treat.
Essentially there are three parts to every rugelach recipe-the dough, the filling, and the finish. For the dough, some recipes use a food processor to cut the butter and cream cheese into the flour until it resembles large curds, then carefully knead the dough by hand to bring it together. Other recipes cream the butter and cream cheese in a mixer with a little vanilla and sugar, then stir in the flour at a slow speed until just combined, again kneading by hand to avoid overworking the dough. I tried both techniques and preferred the second, creaming the fats in a mixer before adding the flour, because I liked the consistency of the dough better. It’s really personal preference, though I can’t vouch for which approach is the most authentic. I also saw a Culinary Institute of America version with the extra step of folding the dough in thirds after the first full roll-out, chilling, and rolling it out again before adding the filling. To keep things simpler, I didn’t add that step in this recipe, but I might try it in the future.
For the filling, I used a pre-made fig jam I bought from our local farmer’s market and spiked it with a little ruby port. Since the jam is already pretty sweet, I didn’t add any extra sugar to the filling, and I included finely chopped raw almonds as well. Any sweet, smooth jam or paste would probably work as a filling. For me, rugelach is a perfect cookie, simple but still slightly fancy, and easily adaptable. I hope you enjoy baking, eating, and sharing this version during the holidays, or any day.
Whole Wheat Rugelach with Fig Jam, Almonds, and Ruby Port
(recipe adapted from “Dorie Greenspan’s Rugelach Secrets” on National Public Radio and Sarabeth’s Bakery: From My Hands To Yours)
For the dough:
8 ounces of unsalted butter
8 ounces of cream cheese
2 tablespoons of organic cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour, freshly ground if possible
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
1 cup fig jam
2 tablespoons ruby port
1/2 cup minced almonds
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons milk
sugar for sprinkling
Remove the butter and cream cheese from the refrigerator and let sit out until softened. Once softened, cream the butter and cream cheese in a mixer until smooth. Add the vanilla and sugar and mix for a minute. Sift the flour and salt together to aerate, then add to the mixer. Mix on the lowest speed until just combined. Scrape dough from bowl and knead briefly on a lightly floured surface until it comes together.
Divide dough into four equal pieces. On a large piece of wax paper for each, flatten each piece of dough into a 4-inch by 7-inch rectangle. Wrap each in its own wax paper, then stack and wrap in plastic and chill for an hour. After an hour, remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll each piece into a 7-inch by 11-inch rectangle on its piece of wax paper. Stack together, with the wax paper in-between, and cover in plastic. Chill for another hour.
While the dough is chilling, heat the fig jam briefly at low power in a microwave to soften. Stir in the port. If the jam is chunky, use a immersion blender to purée until smooth. Set aside. Mince the almonds and set aside. Mix the egg yolks and milk and refrigerate until needed.
Once the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 350º F. Remove one of the pieces of dough with its waxed paper from the refrigerator. Place dough and wax paper on a surface with the long side of the rectangle facing you. Spread 1/4 cup of the fig-port filling over the rectangle, leaving about an inch bare on each longer side of the rectangle, but spread all the way to the edges on the short side of the rectangle. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the minced almonds. Slowly begin to roll up the edge nearest to you, using a plastic dough cutter to lift the dough as you roll if sticking to the wax paper, and gradually roll the rectangle into a cylinder. Work carefully and try not to tear the dough. Once you’ve formed the cylinder, trim about 1/2-inch from each end, then cut the cylinder into generous 1-inch pieces. Place each piece, a couple inches apart, on double-stacked 13″ x 18″ baking sheets lined with parchment paper or a silpat if you have one. Remove another rectangle of dough from the refrigerator and repeat the filling, rolling and cutting process again, and place on the lined double-stacked baking sheet.
Remove the egg wash from the refrigerator, and brush each piece with the egg wash using a pastry brush. Sprinkle a little sugar over each piece. Bake for 25 minutes on the middle rack in the oven until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Transfer to a wire cooling rack. Once the double-stacked baking sheets have cooled, repeat the entire process for the remaining pieces of dough. Serve cookies at room temperature.
Makes 32 rugelach