Food Editor's Notes: I watched and took notes one morning when Julie's Auntie Barbara made this traditional Rosh Hashanah dessert. I had never eaten teiglach, but remember seeing it at my own aunt's house at Rosh Hashanah dinners. I've always had the impression that these were "little wooden balls, drowned in honey," but not so. Auntie Barbara's teiglach are chewy (not soggy or hard) with a not-too-sweet gingery glaze and a surprise in the middle. Julie's family loves these, and everyone with whom I shared my portion did also.
Teiglach are a particular favorite of Jews of Lithuanian descent. When Julie worked in Vienna years ago and made teiglach for Rosh Hashanah, it brought tears to the eyes of the Russian Jews stopping there on their way to freedom. Try this recipe, or one of the variations described below, just for the joy of honoring tradition. You might even like it!
For the pastries:
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon oil
3 cups flour
Yellow raisins (about 1/4 cup)
For the sauce:
1 pound honey
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon ground ginger
3/4 cup boiling water
In a large bowl, stir the eggs with a fork until well mixed. Add the oil and continue stirring. Add the flour, one cup at a time, and stir until the dough starts to form a ball around the fork and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.
Turn out onto a floured board in chunks. Cut off small pieces and roll with the palms of your hands into strands about 3 1/2 inches long and 1/8 to 1/4 inch in diameter. Dough should be soft, but not sticky. Add flour when rolling as necessary.
Press a raisin in the middle of a strand, twist the ends over the raisin into a knot, and tuck ends over to cover. Make strands, fill, and twist until all the dough is used. Place on a floured surface until ready to cook.
Place the honey, sugar, and 1/2 cup water in a large pot. Cook on medium-high, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Add teiglach (one at a time), reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Do not open the pot.
After 30 minutes, uncover the pot. Raise the temperature to medium and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the teiglach turn a deep golden brown. Add the ground ginger and stir. Remove the pot from the burner, add 3/4 cup boiling water, and stir thoroughly.
Cool until warm, remove with a slotted spoon, and place in a large jar or colorful serving bowl. Pour some of the honey sauce over the teiglach.
When totally cool, cover with plastic wrap. Do not refrigerate. The teiglach can remain at room temperature for several weeks, but they will probably not last that long.
To save time, make balls instead of twists. Take a small amount of dough, press a raisin into the middle, and roll the dough into a ball about 1/2 inch in diameter.
Use whole or half walnuts or almonds instead of raisins.
Sprinkle the finished, but still warm, teiglach with chopped nuts.
Roll the finished, but still warm, teiglach in shredded coconut.
This recipe makes about 5 dozen small pastries.
Barbara Lapp (Julie's Auntie Barbara) graciously welcomed me into her kitchen to share the teiglach experience with ShalomBoston.com visitors. We are looking forward to receiving many more delicious recipes from her.