In the Fall 2017 issue of Pakn Treger, Sima Beeri wrote about her mother's traditional Jewish-Lithuanian cooking and shared a recipe for teiglach, a Jewish treat served on special occasions.
Below is Sima's recipe for these little treats, but first, we'd like to share a reader response to the photo that accompanied Sima's piece. Like all aspects of culture—language, art, history, and countless others—Cynthia Gensheimer shows that food is a remarkably personal and subjective matter:
I plotzed when I looked at the back cover of the Fall 2017 Pakn Treger and saw the illustration accompanying Sima Beeri’s lovely piece about teiglach. I never commented on the matzah that my local grocery store used to display every year alongside Chanukah candles and gelt, but I feel compelled to kvetch now to inform your readers that the teiglach that I love looks nothing like sufganiyot.
Teiglach was my grandmother’s crowning dish, a delicacy that she made once a year for a sweet Rosh Hashanah. Even in the 1950s, few of her friends even attempted it, and the version offered up in bakeries was a soggy imitation of her gooey, candy-like confection.
I have tried to carry on the tradition, making teiglach according to the recipe of my Lithuanian great-grandmother. It’s a real potshke, which, as I know all too well, can be ruined at every step of the involved production process and leave me with a nasty burn to boot. Even so, I undertake the high-stakes drama of cooking the mondels in a sticky mixture of buckwheat honey, chopped nuts, and ginger and spreading out the burning-hot concoction on a large board. The whole household gets involved in the tzimmis. Even though the version that we make is the one that Beeri describes as “wet,” its ideal consistency is crunchy and looks nothing like a doughnut!
—Cynthia Francis Gensheimer
"These little pastries are part of our culinary heritage as well as a reminder of the rich and diverse Jewish life of Eastern Europe."
While we're sure many of you have different memories of your own family's version of teiglach, we'd like to present the receipe that Sima found when leafing through her copy of Evreiskaya Kuchnia (Jewish Cuisine), and we hope it begins a new culinary tradition for you and your friends and family.
Ingredients for 40 teiglach (approximately):
4 medium eggs
3 medium egg yolks
3 tbsp vegetable oil
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tbsp vodka
400g (14 oz) plain flour, plus a little flour for rolling out pastry
100-150g (3-5 oz) raisins or sultanas
Ingredients for cooking syrup:
1 kg (2 lb 7 oz) sugar
4 cups water
½ liter (17 fluid oz) honey
½ tsp. citric acid
Ingredients for coating:
1 cup sugar
2 tsp powdered ginger
2 tbsp dried and grated orange rind
How to prepare:
- Place all syrup ingredients into a large pan (10L, (10 ½ quart) something of a size you would make jam in) and mixing occasionally, slowly bring to the boil.
While the syrup is slowly cooking:
- Combine the 4 whole eggs and the 3 egg yolks with the oil in a large bowl and whisk until well combined.
- Mix bicarbonate of soda with the vodka and incorporate into the egg mixture.
- Add flour, a 1/4 at a time until you can knead it into a soft dough (depending on the flour, occasionally an extra tbsp. or two are needed).
- Divide the dough into four and then each quarter into two (or three depending on the size of the teiglach you prefer).
- Roll each section into a sausage (approximately 2cm (3/4 in) in diameter) and place a row of sultanas down the middle. Pinch the dough together so that the sultanas are surrounded by it.
- Divide each sausage into 6 sections. Roll each section between your fingers to elongate it to approximately 10cm (4 in) and make a knot out of each separate sausage. Place on floured surface.
- When the syrup starts bubbling vigorously, put the teiglach carefully into the syrup. Cover, set on medium/low and cook for 25 minutes without opening the lid.
- Open the lid and carefully mix the teiglach. Set on medium/high and continue cooking for a further 30 minutes or until the teiglach change color to dark honey.
While the teiglach are cooking, prepare a medium-size bowl with the coating ingredient, ready to coat the teiglach.
Option 1: At this point take the teiglach off the heat and pour in a cup of boiling water. Do it carefully, pouring a third at a time, making sure to move the teiglach out of the way. As soon as this is done, take them out two at a time with a serrated spoon and put them directly into the coating sugar and then place them on a large tray to cool down.
Option 2: If you choose to leave them in the syrup, transfer the teiglach into a large sealable container, cover with the syrup and cool them well before closing the lid.
- How to make the dried orange peel: carefully peel an orange dividing the outer skin into ¼ with a small knife. Keep the peeled rind in a sunny spot for a couple of weeks until completely dry. Then store until needed. Grate approximately 2 wedges with a fine cheese grinder. (It provides a concentrated aroma and flavor which one cannot achieve from grated fresh orange rind.)
- The teiglach will keep well for a couple of weeks in an air-tight container. Do not refrigerate.
- There is always leftover syrup. It is excellent for a honey cake (instead of pure honey) or on pancakes (instead of maple syrup).