Thursday, January 27, 2011

The History of Rugelach

Joan Nathan can make food sound irresistible -- and her article "A Tale of Two Treats " in Tablet Magazine today really did it. She traces the history of two types of baked goods, rugelach and schnecken, in German, German-Jewish, American-Jewish, and American history. She writes:
Schnecken are the predecessors to the American sticky bun, the sweet roll, the iconic rest-stop treat Cinnabon, and the delectable pecan roll that I used to eat at Drake’s in Ann Arbor, when I studied at the University of Michigan. The popular Settlement Cook Book documents the evolution of this pastry: The first edition of the cookbook, issued in 1901, includes a recipe for “Cinnamon Rolls or Schnecken”; the 1920 book contains two versions, the original and one for “Cold Water Schnecken“; but by the 1940s the Settlement Cook Book had edited the name of the treat down to simply “cinnamon rolls,” and still later editions find the same yeast dough appearing as pecan rolls baked in muffin pans.
I too remember Drake's sandwich shop, a declining favorite in Ann Arbor for many years until it closed in the early 1990s. Sadly I remember most vividly how for its last years, it was so poorly staffed and maintained that a display of Halloween candy corn sat fading in the window throughout all seasons, until it finally closed. Never mind. I loved Nathan's descriptions of delicious pastry.


~~louise~~ said...

What a GREAT link and post, Mae. I'm off to check out that article.

Thanks for sharing...

Jeanie said...

I love rugelach. Love it. Had my first visiting my Cleveland family -- now I try to have it every visit!