Yeast vs. Cream Cheese in Rugelach

I'm trying to decide between a yeast or cream cheese dough. Will yeast dough produce a cookie or flaky texture? Or is it more about the layering of the dough into a box (a la croissant) that produces the flaky result and yeast v. cream cheese doesn't matter? Also, for anyone who's tried both sour cream and cream cheese doughs, any difference and if so, why the preference?



nancy E. February 13, 2018
Rugelach dough IS a cream cheese dough. Nothing else will do
ajs33308 July 17, 2021
My grandmother never used cream cheese, hers were yeast
barb48 February 12, 2018
If anyone has the recipe for the yeast version, pls. post. My mom used to make something called Bolars, which I think were actually rugelach. Her recipe called for dissolving a yeast cake into sour cream. Sadly, I can't really make sense of the entire recipe. TIA
amysarah February 13, 2018
I think you may be thinking of Schnecken, a German cousin of rugelach that uses both sour cream and yeast in the dough. This article by Joan Nathan compares them: I think schnecken are often rolled more like a cinnamon bun, but I've seen them done in a 'snail' rugelach shape too.
Caroline H. December 8, 2020
Real Jewish rugelach (from Europe or Israel) are made with yeast and do not have cream cheese.

Here is my great grandmother's recipe from the old country.

Cream 1/2 lb. butter. Break one 2-oz cake household yeast into butter and
mix. Add 1 cup sour cream and mix. Add 3 egg yolks, and mix in one at a
time. Add 3 cups of flour and mix well. Put in refrigerator overnight.
Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 1/2 TB cinnamon. On waxed paper sprinkle a
little sugar mixture. Dip 1/5 of dough (as a ball) into sugar; and then
roll out into a circle until it is about 12" diameter. Keep rest of dough
in refrigerator so it won't stick when it is worked. As dough is being
rolled, keep sprinkling with the sugar mixture. After rolling, sprinkle
with more sugar mixture and keep a thin layer of sugar mixture on the board
so dough won't stick to it. Cut into 8 pie-shaped wedges. Sprinkle with
nuts and raisins. Roll each wedge from the outside in to form crescents.
Then roll again in sugar. Continue same process with rest of dough. Bake on
a greased cookie sheet at 400 degrees F. for 15-20 minutes (depending on
oven) or until done. Makes 40 rolls.
ATG117 September 16, 2012
I prefer the yeast version, which I actually believe is also more traditional. But again, this is a taste preference, and comparing the yeasted version to a mini danish is not necessarily a bad call.
dinner A. September 15, 2012
I use a cream cheese and butter dough. It makes a wonderfully flaky rugelach which I sold to Dean and DeLuca's for many years.
Reiney September 12, 2012
Flakiness in dough is predominantly determined by two factors: gluten development (or lack thereof) and laminations (layering of fat and dough). Cream cheese would produce a more tender/flaky product because less handling is required - yeast needs time to proof and rise in order to have any effect, and yields a more bready result.

Cream cheese vs yeast rugelach is like the difference between puff pastry and croissant dough - both are laminated doughs, and thus have layers, but the process for making a croissant yeast dough requires light kneading and proofing, thus developing gluten.
amysarah September 12, 2012
I love the richness and slight tang of cream cheese dough in rugelach - perfect foil for the sweetness of the filling, whether apricot and/or walnuts, or chocolate, or whatever. I've never made them with sour cream, but it seems like it would work too. I also don't think of a yeast dough as the texture of a classic least the ones I grew up with.
NakedBeet September 12, 2012
Amysarah, like Kukla, my grandmother used to make a sour cream rugelach and I just can't get my hands on her recipe yet. From what I've read on the internets all day long today, the yeast version is probably better for a kosher/pareve household as it doesn't require dairy in it. And the cream cheese version is what happened when rugelach came from the old country (Germany, Hungary, Russia, etc..) to America. In the same vein, I'm guessing sour cream existed back there and cream cheese did not.
Kukla September 12, 2012
I always use for Rugelach a very easy to make and especially to rollout pastry dough:
2 ½ to3 cups of AP flour (spoon and level method)
200 gram cold unsalted butter or good quality margarine cut in small cubes
2 egg yolks
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
200 gram cold sour cream
Start with 2 ½ cups flour; add butter, yolks, salt and sugar.
Using just a butter knife, chop all together until it looks like coarse meal; then add sour cream and gather into a ball. If you fill that more flour is needed, add it little by little but make sure the dough is still soft; the dough will firm up in the refrigerator. Chill not less then 2 hours or overnight.
This is a full proof recipe from the Old Country, which is the best for all kind of sweet and savory pies, strudels tarts and Rugelach.

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ChefJune September 12, 2012
I don't care for a yeast dough at all for rugulach. It makes it more like a danish than a cookie. I love the richness and the flakiness of the cream cheese dough. Hmmmm never made rugulach with sour cream, but why not? You might have to use more flour. Sour cream is more liquidy.
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