Ever since I was young, I knew I wanted to be a baker. I always loved baking with my mother for Shabbos and Yom Tov. I remember helping my mom measure out the ingredients and mixing up the batter. The best part was always licking the bowl. I loved going with my mom to the local bakery to pick up fresh challah and desserts for Shabbos. I always got to pick a cookie from the case to eat right there in the store! When I got older, I got a job at a bakery and learned all the ins and outs of commercial baking and instantly fell deeper in love! In the bakery kitchen I feel like I am home. Well, home away from home, anyway. There is nothing more satisfying than perfectly measuring out ingredients, mixing up dough in just the right way, and baking up a perfect dessert every time. I love braiding hundreds of challahs, or piping out tray after tray of lace cookies. I know that this may sound crazy to some, but this is all truly relaxing to me.
When I worked at a bakery my main job was cake decorating. Whenever I finished my work early, I would help out my fellow bakers. My favorite thing to help out with was rolling up rugelach. I love the challenge of making each one look exactly like the last. When they are all rolled up, they look like cute little croissants.
My all-time, absolute, hands down favorite rugelach flavor is definitely vanilla. It needs to be made from yeast raised dough, though. Don’t give me any of those cookie rugelach or the ones made from flaky pastry dough. And nothing with nuts or raisins either. I love a classic sweet vanilla rugelach. Some people may think that vanilla is just a plain flavor, but to me vanilla is perfection. It’s like the little black dress of dessert flavors. It is perfect on its own, but pairs well with almost any other flavor. The secret to vanilla rugelach is filling the dough with a mixture of sugar and vanilla sugar. As soon as they come out of the oven, I brush them with a vanilla sugar syrup. Trust me, one taste and you will be hooked. Baking a batch of vanilla rugelach at home fills the whole house with the sweet smell of Shabbos. Too bad that most of the little fresh pastries don’t even make it until Friday night, they need to pass my family’s “quality control”.
Vanilla rugelach are pretty fantastic but I also enjoy putting a modern twist to a classic dessert. I have never heard of one before but I didn’t see why I couldn’t create a lemon rugelach. I tweaked my vanilla dough recipe and added fresh lemon zest and nutmeg. I let the dough rise, rolled it out into a circle and drizzled on freshly squeezed lemon juice. I then sprinkled on sugar that was mixed with lemon zest, nutmeg and ginger. I cut the dough (like a pizza pie) into 16 sections. Then I rolled up each triangle starting from the wide end. After the shaped rugelach are left to rest for 20 minutes, I baked them for 20 minutes. As soon as they came out of the oven, I brushed them with a sugar-lemon syrup and allowed them to cool. Once cool, I mixed up a quick confectioners sugar icing and drizzled that on top. I am so happy with the results! They are soft, gooey, sweet, fresh and tart. Bake these today!