Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser
Prep Time: 25 minutes Rising Time: 2 hours 15 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes
These flaky-crusted treats have the Southern tang of buttermilk and the New Orleans flair of espresso and pralines.
1 (¼-ounce/7-gram) package active dry yeast
2 tablespoons (1 fluid ounce) warm water (see Kitchen Tips)
3 cups (390 grams) unbleached, all-purpose flour
⅝ to ¾ cups (5 to 6 fluid ounces) buttermilk
½ teaspoon (3 grams) salt
¼ cup (51 grams) granulated sugar
½ stick (57 grams/¼ cup/4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature, but not melted
1½ cups (170 grams) crushed toasted pecans, finely chopped (see Kitchen Tips)
½ cup (102 grams) granulated sugar
¼ cup (84 grams) cane syrup such as Lyle’s Golden syrup (see Kitchen Tips)
½ teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon roasted ground cinnamon (see Kitchen Tips)
1 teaspoon water
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast and warm water and let stand for about 5 minutes, until the yeast foams and bubbles.
- Add 1½ cups of the flour, 10 tablespoons (5 fluid ounces) of the buttermilk, the salt, sugar, and egg, and mix at low speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until blended, stopping the machine occasionally to scrape down the side of the bowl as needed.
- Add the remaining 1½ cups flour and knead at medium-low speed for 1 minute. If the dough appears to be very dry, add the remaining 2 tablespoons buttermilk (see Kitchen Tips). Knead for another 5 to 6 minutes at medium speed, until the dough is fully developed, smooth, and elastic. At this point the dough will still be a bit stiff. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and add the softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. As it becomes incorporated into the dough, increase the speed to medium and knead another minute or two, until the dough is smooth, shiny, and supple. Place the dough in a covered container and let rise at room temperature for 1½ to 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, make the filling: combine the sugar, syrup, and espresso powder, stirring until mixture looks like wet sand and the espresso dissolves. Stir in the cinnamon to combine.
- When the dough has risen, punch it down, transfer to a work surface, divide it in half, and roll out each piece to form a 14- to 15-inch circle that is about ¼ inch thick. Cover both with a kitchen towels and set aside for 15 minutes to rest. It will get slightly thicker.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats. Prepare the egg wash: in a small bowl, lightly beat the egg and water.
- When the dough has rested, spread half of the filling mixture across each circle, leaving a ½-inch border uncovered around each outside edge. Using a long knife or a pizza cutter, cut the circle in half, then in quarters, and then in eighths. Cut each eighth into 3 equal-sized wedges to make a total of 24.
- Roll up each wedge, starting at the wider outside edge, and rolling firmly into a crescent shape.
- Place the filled, rolled rugelach onto the prepared baking sheets, placing them 2 inches apart. With a pastry brush, brush the rugelach with the egg wash and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 2 to 3 minutes, and then, with a small metal spatula (an offset spatula works well), carefully transfer them them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Yeast is a little living creature, and it needs special handling. You need warm water (between 85° and 100°F) to activate it and get it started eating and bubbling, but if the water is too warm, you’ll kill it and it simply won’t work at all.
- You can find toasted or roasted nuts in most supermarkets, but if you can’t, or if you prefer to roast your own, try The Weiser Kitchen’s Roasted Nuts recipe. If someone at your table is allergic to nuts, try toasted sunflower seeds instead.
- Cane syrup is a liquid sweetener made of sugar cane juice that has been cooked down to a syrup.
- To toast spices, pour the ground or whole seeds into a frying pan or cast-iron skillet and set over medium heat. Toast for 10 to 20 seconds, or up to 1 minute, until fragrant. Watch carefully so the spices do not burn.
- To add the extra buttermilk, it can be helpful to stop the mixer and break the dough into 6 or 8 pieces, drizzle the buttermilk over the pieces and then turn the mixer back on. Otherwise the buttermilk can make the surface of the dough a little slick while it incorporates. It will mix in either way, but the process will go a bit faster if the dough is broken up first.