I’ve been planning to make teiglach for the past couple of weeks, but with the Bay Area in a heat wave I was trying to avoid turning on my stove for the required hour. With Simcha Torah coming up tomorrow night I was rapidly running out of time for the recipe to be relevant, so I cranked up the A/C to get these done in time for the culmination of the high holidays. Given that it was 95 degrees in San Francisco yesterday, I may have lost my mind a little bit, but sometimes a little sacrifice is required for my art. As you prepare to celebrate the beginning of a new cycle of reading the Torah (finish up Deuteronomy and start-up again with Genesis), teiglach make a nice sweet treat to go along with the obligatory drinking and hakafot.
While I have definitely never made teiglach I also started the project thinking I had never eaten them either and was unprepared with for what they would taste like, but upon biting into the completed cookie I remembered having them at some point as a kid.
Teiglach literally means “little dough” in Yiddish and has its history in the Lithuanian Jewish community, and is traditional for Rosh Hashana and Simcha Torah. (Apparently holishkes are also traditional for Simcha Torah, as the rolls of cabbage are symbolic for the Torah rolls) While boiling dough in honey seems a bit odd, the dough cooks up crunchy like a cookie covered in a sticky honey syrup. The ingredients are quite basic and the process is very simple but the resulting cookies are oddly addicting.
I found two compelling recipes, one from Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cooking and one from Claudia Rodan’s Book of Jewish Food and combined elements of both. I like Joan Nathan’s dough and cooking method, but her syrup recipe called for additional sugar added to the honey and its seemed like that would result in something alarmingly sweet. As is par for the course for her, the recipe was intended to feed an army so I cut it in thirds. Claudia Rodan’s syrup was less sugary and had the added component of lemon zest which I like and then I went ahead and I added lemon juice as well.
makes about 30 cookies
- 2 C. honey
- 1/2 cup water (plus more if needed)
- Zest of 1 lemon
- juice from half the lemon
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp ginger
- pinch salt
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 1/3 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup + 2 Tbsp flour
- 1/2 C of chopped walnuts for garnish
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. In a large, pot mix together the honey, water, lemon juice, and zest. Heat to boiling.
- Beat together the eggs, oil, ginger, and salt until blended. In a separate bowl mix together the baking powder and flour. Add to the egg mixture to form a sticky dough. Cut the dough into 3 pieces. Roll each piece between your hands until it forms a rope about ¾ inch in diameter. Slice each rope into ¾ inch thick pieces. Add to the boiling syrup and simmer slowly for about an hour.
- At the end of the first half hour, the teyglakh will be an attractive golden color , but they will not be hard and crisp. Further cooking will improve their texture and make them a beautiful dark mahogany color.
- Stir frequently until done, to make sure that the syrup doesn’t burn. When the cooking is complete, remove pan from heat. Immediately place the teiglach, on the pan in one layer so they don’t stick together. Then pour the syrup over the teighlach and sprinkle with walnuts. Allow to cool and then serve.
Note: Teiglach can be garnished with all sorts of nuts or sweets. Get creative… coconut, dried fruit, and sesame seeds are all great options.