Why is it necessary to refrigerate rugelach dough? I see this in a lot of recipes online, and yet the recipe I jotted down from a very sweet, 80-ish year old Jewish baker (which includes butter and cream cheese) did not mentionany refrigeration.
Rugelach dough is a very soft, sticky dough. Refrigerating the dough prior to rolling it out will facilitate the rolling (and relax the gluten which will also help). Chilling the already rolled crescents is also advisable as it will prevent them from spreading during baking.
It is also important to chill rugelach dough prior to rolling it out because it will help to maintain the crescent shape. Most recipes call for a good amount of butter in the dough. A cool room temperature, cold work surface, and chilled dough will all aid in the handling of the dough.