Around the world in 80 bakes, no.65: Cornulete (or Rugelach) from Romania

Around the world in 80 bakes, no.65: Cornulete (or Rugelach) from Romania

My Romanian friend gave me a choice of two baked items as being typical of her country:  cozonak (aka kozunak, an Easter bread) and cornulete. Since I’ve already done kozunak, under the banner of neighbouring Bulgaria, cornulete were the ones to go for. The dough is an unusual one, like a shortbread biscuit dough but with no sugar and lots of sour cream, whereas the construction is more common: cut your pastry into triangles, put in a dollop of your chosen filling and roll the whole thing up the way you would roll up a croissant.

It makes for attractive little pastries that are particularly nice if what you’re looking for is something tasty and flaky but not overly sweet.

By the way, you’ll see another name for these pastries, Rugelach, which I think is a Yiddish name: these and similar items are common in Eastern European Jewish communities.

The recipe I started from was this one, in Romanian and requiring the help of translation software. The desired filling is a thing called magiun, which is a jam made from plums in season and – crucially – little or no added sugar. It’s the wrong season for plums here, so I made do with what I could find, which was good quality apricot jam.

The dough

  • 250 g plain flour
  • 150g sour cream
  • 2 yolks
  • 150 g butter
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • Vanilla essence to taste

Take the butter out of your fridge and cut it into small cubes.

  1. Put everything into the bowl of your food processor or stand mixer and process until fully blended. However, don’t overmix the dough – apparently, it will go tough.
  2. Shape the dough into a flattened disc, wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for at least an hour or two. Due to a series of unfortunate events, mine ended up being left overnight, which was just fine.

Filling and baking

  • Plum or apricot jam – you’ll use 100g-200g worth
  • 16 walnut pieces (between 2-4 whole walnuts)

What happens next depends on what size you want your cornulete to be. The original Romanian recipe expects you to divide the dough into four, which is going to get you some very small cornulete unless you’re incredibly good at rolling the dough very thin. I’m hopeless at rolling dough into exact circles, so I went for the simpler approach of just rolling the whole lot into a singe circle. You choose…

  1. Preheat oven to 170℃ fan.
  2. Prepare a baking tray lined with a Silpat sheet (if you have one) or baking paper.
  3. Roll your circle of dough as flat as you can manage. Mine rolled to about 30cm diameter. Trim it to a circle: as you can see from the photos, I used an inverted tart tin to do this.
  4. Cut the circle into segments (they join at the middle of the circle, so you’re basically making triangles. I did 16 segments, using a steel bread scraper; several recipes recommend using a pizza cutter.
  5. Separate out a triangle and put a dollop of jam onto its thick end. Place a walnut piece on top of the dollop of jam.
  6. Starting from the thick end, roll up the pastry triangle into the traditional croissant shape. Transfer to the baking sheet.
  7. Repeat for the remaining cornulete.
  8.  Bake for around 15 minutes until golden but not dried out or tough.
  9. Leave to cool for at least 15 minutes before eating.

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