What We Love About . . . Pastry Offcuts!

Making pastry is good for the soul, so it's a shame to throw away the cut offs. Put them to great use with this guide to making quick rugelach.


Impressive Rugelach in Just a Few Minutes…

Before the Monday Morning Cooking Club project started, I never considered myself someone good at making pastry. Sure I could throw together a quiche dough in the processor, or a rough puff for a tomato tart, but I did it with little confidence and in a state of heightened nervous awareness. Will it be too tough? Will it shrink? Will it tear?

My mother was fantastic at making pastry, and perhaps that’s where my problem started. She had bigger hands than me, and oddly enough warmer hands too. They say you need cold hands to make a good pastry, but mine are so cold that I can overwork the dough when bringing it all together.

Mum gave me two gifts about pastry. Every time she could, she would call me from my bedroom and make me touch the dough she was making. “Stick your finger in it Merelyn – then you’ll know how soft/firm/velvety/smooth it should be”. Even now I can remember the texture of her strudel pastry, and though my batches don’t feel the same, I have a benchmark. (And my pastries work perfectly well, without being the same as hers.)

The second gift about pastry she gave me? Well, when I moved out of home in the 1980s, she would deliver a quick batch of  pastry to my place while I was at work. Quiche for dinner anyone? Pronto! And so much better than the poor cousin in the supermarket freezer!

In the last six years I’ve made a gazillion pastries, trying out recipes for our book, and I’ve become confident. In fact making pastry is now one of my favourite kitchen activities in the world! The pastries in our book Monday Morning Cooking Club have been passed down from generation to generation, or from a fabulous chef, and I promise, with a little practice, they are easy and manageable.

When my kids were little I loved doing Playdough with them. When they grew a bit bigger and I had more time in the kitchen, I would leave my left over scraps of pastry in the fridge so they could play with them on a Saturday night.

Now that I have my favourite pastries from our book, I make little extra lunch box treats from the scraps.

Last week I made Eva’s wonderful Zserbo Slice (page 111) which uses a yeast and sour cream pastry. There was enough left over pastry from the cut offs to make a quick batch of rugelach for the lunch boxes. Here’s a little run down of how to make a rugelach:

Gather your scraps of dough into a ball and roll into a circle, about 3-5mm thick



Cut across the circle, like a pizza, into triangles. Put a bit of filling in the middle of the base. I used Powidl – plum jam – but you can use nutella, jam, or a chocolate sugar mix



Fold over to cover the filling. I fold the base first, then the 2 sides, to make a little envelope



Try to not have any filling showing, to avoid leaking during baking




Roll towards the point of the triangle. It will look like a straight-line croissant!



Place on a lined baking tray and repeat for all the other triangles



Bake for 20 – 30 minutes or until golden brown




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Since we're talking cheesecake, here's one not to miss.
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