Vanilla rugelach sounds not so exciting, as compared to chocolate rugelach, but vanilla rugelach can hold its own any day. The key is to use lots of strong vanilla flavor. Vanilla sugar in the filling and vanilla extract in the soaking syrup imparts an intense flavor that is reminiscent of vanilla pudding. While syrup is optional with chocolate rugelach, it is a must with vanilla rugelach. Adding lemon juice to the syrup gives a dairy taste to the rugelach.
If you want to go with cinnamon or apricot cinnamon fillings, I include recipes for that, too.
A variation on the Chocolate Rugelach recipe. The vanilla version is partly inspired by the pareve cheese flavor crescents from Tzipporah Kreizman’s Delights of the Jewish Kitchen and partly inspired by the Lil Miss Cakes vanilla rugelach recipe, except I use a filling that is oil/flour/sugar based instead of margarine/sugar based.
20 ounces challah or babka or other sweet dough (the amount you need to make a loaf of challah, or a piece the size of a small melon)
3.75 ounces sugar (1/2 cup)
2 Tbl, vanilla sugar
2 ounces oil (4 Tbl.)
3 ounces flour (2/3 cup)
1/2 cup golden raisins, optional
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 Tbl. vanilla
juice half lemon (optional)
Combine the flour and oil to make a thick, spreadable paste. Combine the vanilla sugar and the sugar.
You have two basic options for shaping the dough: (1) roll out circles of dough, which gets cut into wedges (like pizza) that in turn get rolled up into little crescents; OR (2) roll out rectangles of dough, which can be rolled up like a jelly roll and sliced. If you want to get a little fancier with shaping you can combine the two methods and cut a rolled out rectangle of dough into triangles (explained below, but also explained and illustrate in Bakingforthecure’s post on chocolate rugelach).
If you want to roll out the dough into circles, divide the dough in half. Each piece should weigh about 10 ounces and will be about the size of a small grapefruit or large orange. Roll each piece of dough into a 12″ circle that is 1/8″ thick. Spread each circle of dough with the oil/flour paste and sprinkle with the vanilla sugar. If desired, sprinkle over some golden raisins. Cut each circle into 16 wedges. Roll up each wedge from the wide end towards the point.
If you think you will find it difficult to roll out such a large circle, you can also divide the dough into four pieces, each about 5 ounces. These small pieces of dough can be rolled out into 8″ or 9″ circles. These small circles should be cut into 8 wedges.
If you would rather shape the dough into rectangles, roll each 10 ounce piece of dough into a rectangle that is 6″x16″ (you can roll it a bit thinner, too, to about 18″ long). Top the dough with the filling as described above. Roll up the dough to make a log that is 16″ long. Cut the dough into 16 slices.
If you want to get a bit fancier with shaping, you can cut the rectangle into triangles. Score the 6″x16″ rectangle every two inches, creating eight rectangles that are 6″x2″. Spread filling on each rectangle and cut the rectangle diagonally into two triangles, each 2″ wide at the base and 6″ long. Roll up each triangle.
Place the rolled dough on lined baking sheets. You can place them close together because the rugelach don’t rise that much. Bake straightaway (don’t let the dough rise) at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Make the sugar syrup: boil 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup water until the sugar dissolves. Take off the heat. Add vanilla and lemon juice. Brush the hot sugar syrup on the rugelach right after you pull the rugelach from the oven.
Makes 32 rugelach.
Rugelach Dough I
Based on the sourdough sweet dough from the Apple Butter Swirl Challah. The sourdough sweet dough in that recipe was adapted from Loaves and Stitches. Makes 40 ounces dough, enough for two recipes of rugelach (5-6 dozen rugelach). If you don’t want to use all the dough for rugelach, you can use half for rugelach and use the rest to make challah rolls, challah or babka.
12 3/4 ounces sourdough starter (360 g.) (equal to 3/4 cup water and 1 1/2 cups flour)
1 1/2 Tbl. water (20 g.)
2 1/4 tsp. yeast
4 1/2 Tbl. sugar (60 g.)
1 cup plus 2 Tbl. all purpose flour (100 g.)
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
6 Tbl. corn or safflower oil (90 g.)
3 1/3 cups bread flour (375 g.)
In a mixing bowl, combine the sourdough starter, water, yeast, eggs, sugar and all purpose flour. Let this mixture stand, covered, for a half hour. The mixture should be foamy.
Combine this mixture with the salt, oil and bread flour. Knead well to make a smooth dough that is slightly tacky, but not sticky.
Let the dough rise in the fridge overnight (or you can let the dough rise for 30-60 minutes at room temperature–I’ve tried it both ways). Shape the dough as desired.
Rugelach Dough II
This is started off as the dough from the krantz cake recipe in Jerusalem, but I changed it around a bit and adapted for use in making rugelach. If you don’t add the optional sourdough starter, the yield is 37 ounces of dough, which is enough for one recipe of rugelach and one babka or krantz cake. If you add the sourdough starter, the yield is 43 ounces dough, enough for two recipes of rugelach OR one and a half recipes of rugelach and a loaf of babka.
For the dough, mix together the following and let in rise in a covered container in the refrigerator overnight:
4 1/4 cups flour (530 g.)
1/2 cup sugar (100 g.)
2 tsp. yeast
3 large eggs plus a yolk (or 3 extra-large, which is what original recipe called for)
1/2 cup water (120 ml.)
1/4 tsp. salt (rounded)
(original recipe called for zest of one lemon, which I didn’t add)
1 tsp. vanilla (not in original recipe, optional)
1/4 tsp. lemon extract (not in original recipe, optional)
2/3 cup safflower oil (140 g.– original recipe called for 150 g. butter)
190 g. sourdough starter (not in original recipe, completely optional)
To make the dough, mix together all the ingredients in a mixing bowl or plastic dough rising container. Knead the dough to make a dough that is tacky but not too sticky. If you add the sourdough starter, you might need to add some extra flour. Let the dough rise in a covered container in the refrigerator overnight.
Other fillings (amount for 10 ounces of dough):
Brown Sugar Cinnamon Raisin
1 Tbl. flour
4 Tbl. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbl. oil (or apple butter)
1/3 cup raisins
Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon and oil. Spread over the dough and sprinkle with raisins before cutting and rolling up the rugelach.
Apricot Cinnamon Raisin
4 Tbl. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbl. apricot jam
1/3 cup golden raisins
Spread jam over dough and sprinkle over cinnamon sugar and raisins before cutting and rolling up the rugelach.