Grandpa Emil’s famous rugelach

Try this treasured recipe from the historic Jewish Bodenstein Brothers Bakery in New York City.
Rugelach with cinnamon and nuts. Image for illustration purposes only. (Photo: manyakotic/iStock)

Ever since I was young, I’ve always had a sweet tooth. Lucky for me, I come from a family of bakers. My great-grandpa, Emil Bodenstein, fled from Poland to the United States before the Holocaust. 

Once in New York City, he established the Bodenstein Brothers Bakery, a Jewish bakery in Washington Heights with his brother. There would be lines around the block of customers waiting to get their hands on challahs, apple pie, brownies, and of course, rugelach. 

My great-grandpa Emil passed away in 1969 and the bakery subsequently closed. But Beba spent her lifetime teaching my mother all of her father’s cherished recipes. When I was four years old, my mother began to share these family traditions with me. One of the first things I remember making with her was Grandpa Emil’s rugelach. 

Even though Beba is no longer with us, one of the many ways that I make her memory a blessing is by baking grandpa Emil’s recipes with my mother, little sister, friends, and even on my own at college.

Without further ado, here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for — my great grandpa Emil’s revered rugelach recipe:

Grandpa Emil’s famous rugelach

Prep1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Yield4 dozen rugelach


For the rugelach dough:

  • ½ lb unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 8 oz cream cheese (1 large block)
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more if needed for dough consistency/rolling)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • ½ cup raisins (optional)


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a stand mixer, cream together the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and eggs.
  • Gradually add flour to the mixture; you can add up to 3 cups if the dough is too sticky.
  • Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Once the dough has chilled, roll it out into a large circle.
  • Cut the dough into long, triangular pieces.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the brown sugar, white sugar, and cinnamon to make the filling.
  • Sprinkle a small amount of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over each triangle of dough. If desired, add a few raisins and/or walnut pieces.
  • Roll each piece of dough tightly, starting from the wider end, and then bend the ends to create a crescent shape.
  • Place the rugelach on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden.
  • Allow the rugelach to cool before serving.

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