3. Whisk together the melted butter, lemon juice, milk, eggs, and vanilla in a separate bowl. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not over mix; it’s okay if the batter is not perfectly smooth.4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost entirely clean. Cool the pan on a rack for 15 minutes, then carefully turn it upside down to release the loaf. Serve warm or at room temperature or wrap it in plastic and keep at room temperature fora couple days.
MAKES: About 2 1/2 dozen cookies TIME: About 1 hours, plus time to chill
This Eastern European, mostly Jewish treat (I learned it from my grandmother) is a pastry masquerading as a cookie, with a delicious, rich, flaky cream cheese dough wrapped around a nutty filling. Here it’s sliced into pin-wheels, which is easier than the traditional crescents (if you must have that shape, see the box on this page). It’s easy to customize the filling too — check out the chart on page 501.
1 cup (8 ounces) cream cheese
2 sticks butter, plus more for greasing
2 cups flour, plus more for dusting ½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts
¾ cup raisins
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ cup apricot preserves
1. Let the cream cheese and butter soften at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Combine them in a food processor with the flour, ¼ cup of the granulated sugar, the vanilla, and the salt; pulse until the dough is in pea-sized clumps.
2. Empty the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gather it into a ball, divide it in half, and roll each half into a log. The dough is a little crumbly, but it will come together as the butter warms up in your hands. Wrap each log tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour; you can also freeze them for several weeks and thaw completely in the refrigerator before using.
3. Finely chop the walnuts and raisins together, then combine in a bowl with the brown sugar and cinnamon. On a lightly floured surface, roll one log into a rectangle 1/4 inch thick (about 16 × 10 inches); leave the other log in the fridge while you work. Use an offset spatula or a bench scraper to periodically lift up the dough to make sure it isn’t sticking to the work surface before you fill it.
4. Spread half the preserves on the dough in a thin, even layer, then sprinkle half the nut mixture over the preserves and gently press it into the dough so it sticks. Starting with one long side, roll the dough into a tight log, pinch the ends to seal, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat with the other piece of dough.
5. Heat the oven to 350°F and grease 2 baking sheets. Place the logs seam side down on a cutting board. Beat the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water and brush it over both logs, then sprinkle all over with the remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar.
6. Cut into 1-inch slices, arrange on the baking sheets, and pinch the seams of the pastry to seal (if you’re having a hard time getting them to stick, use a little extra egg wash). Bake until lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes; rotate the sheets halfway through baking. Cool for about2 minutes on the sheets before using a spatula to transfer the cookies to a rack to finish cooling.
How to Roll Crescent-Shaped Rugelach
Pinwheels are, by leaps and bounds, the easiest and fastest way to make rugelach. But you may want to make them in their traditional shape, which exposes more of the flaky, buttery dough and allows it to fully crisp up and get golden. Instead of shaping the dough into 2 logs, divide it into 4 evenly sized disks and chill. Working one at a time, roll the disks into 10-inch circles and spread the preserves and nut mixture evenly over each. Cut each circle into 12 wedges (imagine you’re looking at a clock) and, starting from the outside edge and working your way in, roll the triangles into crescents. Pinch the ends slightly to curve them into a crescent shape, then refrigerate and bake as directed.