From the moment I met Evie Glass, the protagonist in Deb Amy’s engrossing debut, THE GLASS WIVES, I felt as if I knew her. She seemed so…well, so real. Evie is a Jewish woman who went to Northwestern and likes to bake cookies. I am a Jewish woman…who went to Northwestern*…and likes to bake cookies. Hmm…
Okay, so there are numerous ways in which Evie’s struggles and crises are different than my own (thank goodness!), but Amy portrays Evie’s story so vividly that I could identify with all the challenges Evie faced throughout the story.
There were so many things I loved about THE GLASS WIVES, from the layered, complicated friendships to the evolving notion of “family,” but for this Jewish gal who likes to bake cookies, I particularly appreciated the references to Jewish food and culture peppered throughout the story. The book opens at a shiva and closes at a Passover seder, with a smattering of Jewish and Yiddish references in between. There’s talk of brisket and chopped liver and Tam Tams and macaroons. Be still my heart!
As you may have gathered from my previous posts, I love all things food and cooking, and Amy totally nails the importance of food in Jewish culture. Jews like to feed people. It is what we do. In the opening chapter, as people bring Tupperwares and foil-wrapped trays filled with food to the shiva after the death of Evie’s ex-husband, Amy writes, “Death was horrifying enough, but death and hunger would be a shanda, a disgrace.”
Yes. A thousand times yes.
One character brings rugelach, a cookie-like Jewish pastry, and so I figured to celebrate the launch of THE GLASS WIVES (Out TODAY!! Go buy your copy!!) I would share my Hungarian great grandmother’s recipe for rugelach. For some reason, my family always called these schnecken when I was growing up, which doesn’t really make sense because I’ve since discovered schnecken are an entirely different Hungarian pastry, but I digress…
So, without further ado, I give you the Greenspon family rugelach recipe. Let’s all bake cookies and celebrate with Deb Amy as her book baby enters the world! And if you’d like to win a copy of THE GLASS WIVES, just comment below and tell us what roll food plays in your family and/or culture!
* Okay, so I went to Northwestern for grad school, not undergrad, but for the sake of my argument, let’s not quibble over details.
Rugelach (or as my family called them, schnecken)
Yield: ~60 rugelach
You can fill your rugelach with whatever you like — raspberry jam, chocolate chips, nuts, you name it. My favorite fillings are apricot jam and golden raisins, or raspberry jam.
1/2 lb. unsalted butter
1/2 lb. cream cheese
2 cups sifted flour
1 egg yolk (save the white)
1 cup sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons cinnamon
Fillings of your choice (apricot jam + golden raisins, raspberry jam, Nutella, etc)
To make the dough, mix all of the dough ingredients together in a stand mixer or food processor until the dough comes together. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, let the dough soften slightly at room temperature before making the rugelach. Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut the dough into 7 wedges. Using one wedge at a time, roll out into a flat circle about 1/8″ thick. Spread a thin layer of preserves or other spreadable filling along the outer edge of the circle. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar evenly all over the inside of the circle. If using apricot preserves, line the edges of the circle with golden raisins. Cut the circle into eighths. Roll each eighth from the outer edge in, forming a crescent shape. Seal the ends. Brush with the reserved egg white and roll in the remaining cinnamon sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
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