Saturday, May 19, 2012

Spent Grain Rugelach: Or, a Totally Hacked Recipe

A few months ago, I started working with spent grain. It started with this recipe for spent grain sourdough bread. Someone shared a recipe for spent grain rugelach with me, but it had a few major problems. First, the original version, from a section on spent grain baking from the Brooklyn Brew Shop's web site, has some serious inconsistencies and oversights. I can't keep working from an incorrect recipe, so my motivation is equal parts sharing and equal parts sanity preservation.

This recipe's keys are the dried cranberries and the egg white. The dried cranberries make for a filling I've not seen before in either schnecken or rugelach, which typically consists of walnuts and brown sugar and lots of cinnamon.

Oh, and you may have heard me talk about the differences between rugelach and schnecken before. You may know that I make a schnecken with nutella. And thank goodness for that, because the original version of this recipe directs you to roll the dough out into a rectangle, but does not tell you what size it should be, how thick the dough should be, nor how many pieces you should get when you slice up the rolled-up rectangle. So I hacked the recipe, and turned it into a schnecken recipe. So that means the dough is divided into six equal pieces and rolled into circles, and then split up like a pizza. The original recipe also called for much more sugar and more of the filling, and it was just too much all around--I had leftover filling and it was too sweet to have so much sugar in the middle.

For the Dough:
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup spent grain

For the Filling:
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon

For the Top:
  • 1 egg  yolk
  • 1-2 Tbsp. water
  • Sparkling sugar

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and cream cheese and salt until it starts to look fluffy and it's well incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the 1/4 cup granulated sugar.
2.  Add in the flour slowly, followed by the spent grain. Once it has come together, remove it from the bowl and wrap it in wax paper and put it in the fridge for a least an hour, longer if possible, and up to overnight. (I would not let this sit for more than 24 hours because when you roll the dough out it will be a bit dry.)
3. While the dough chills, combine the filling ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. I find it easiest to combine all the dry ingredients first, and add the egg white last. Make sure the egg white is fully integrated; the mixture should look evenly wet.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Wait until it's time to take dough out of fridge......
6. Remove dough from the fridge and weigh it. Divide the dough in half with a chef's knife or pastry scraper. Divide each half into thirds of equal weight. Wrap up three of the dough chunks and leave three out. You will notice that this dough is sticky, stickier than your typical rugelach dough.
7. Flour a pastry board and start by rolling out the first chunk of dough into a circle that measures about 8-10 inches in diameter. Scoop about 2 Tbsp. of the cranberry-sugar-nut mixture onto the circle of dough, and spread it out so that none of it clumps together in the middle.
8. Using a pizza cutter, divide the dough into eight equal pie-shaped portions. Roll each pie slice up, starting with the fat end closest to you. The filling will want to spooge out. If it does this, try to concentrate it everywhere but the skinny part, which you reach last when you're rolling. Repeat this process until you have 12 on a baking sheet.
9. Whisk together the egg yolk and water. Brush the tops of the rugelach with this mixture and sprinkle the tops with the coarse sugar (I've used raw sugar in a pinch but it doesn't hold up as well as coarse white sparkling sugar.)
10. Baking for about 20 minutes, until the ends are starting to brown and the tops are starting to brown a bit. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
11. Repeat steps 7-10 until you're out of dough.
12. Yield: 4 dozen

I am still calling it rugelach even though my other recipe is almost the same in its methodology and execution, and that one's called schnecken. Tomato, tom-ah-to. You know where this is going, I imagine. This little treat is sweet, freezes well, and travels well. They will keep for several days (probably five at most) in a tightly covered container at room temperature.

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