My first encounter with rugelach was in the early 90s when I worked for a company owned by a Jewish family. During the Jewish holidays, they’d bring in platters of treats to share with the staff and the little rolled cookies had me coming up with all kinds of reasons to wander by the break room.
Yiddish for “little twist”, rugelach was originally made with a yeast dough, but American Jews introduced a dough made with cream cheese. The pastry is rolled around fillings such as chocolate, raisins, nuts or preserves such as apricot or raspberry.
Rugelach are supposedly easy to make at home, but while I consider myself an accomplished baker, I’ve never been able to get the cream cheese pastry to work well for me, despite trying a variety of recipes. As such, I’m always on the lookout for places that sell the things, because rugelach are quite addictive.
And while I’m sure there are any number of Jewish bakeries and delis in the north end of the city that make fantastic examples of this cookie (please feel free to share your favourites in the comments), I’m sticking to what is accessible to me, a car-free downtowner.
Note that as rugelach is considered a seasonal item, not all the places listed may have it at all times. While it should be readily available for the next week or so until the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah have passed, I’d advise calling ahead if it’s out of season and you really need a fix.
Future Bakery (93 Front Street East, St. Lawrence Market) – cream cheese or raspberry filling.
Harbord Bakery (115 Harbord Street) – offers a variety of flavours with chocolate being the most popular.
Wanda’s Pie in the Sky (287 Augusta Avenue) – a variety of flavours, likely seasonal as they don’t show up on their website.
What a Bagel (421 Spadina Road, and others) – carry the cookies year-round, with 4 flavours plus a sugar-free version.
Whole Foods (87 Avenue Road) – offers rugelach seasonally, sold pre-packaged, by the kilo.
Yitz’s Deli (346 Eglinton Avenue) – sold singly or by the kilo, there’s usually a nice mix of flavours including cinnamon and walnut.
I’ve also bought rugelach at Benna’s (135 Roncesvalles Avenue), but the person I talked to on the phone for this piece didn’t know what I was talking about, so I can’t guarantee they have them all the time.