NEW YORK – Friday, April 29, marked the inaugural National Rugelach Day, in celebration of the small sweet bites.
Rugelach have a history as rich as their taste, and the dessert has transcended culture. The treats are traditionally Jewish, but the pastry chef behind the holiday is a Black man, Alvin Lee Smalls.
“I’ve been baking it for 50 years, so I feel that everybody should know about it,” Smalls told CBS2’s Jessi Mitchell when she asked why he thought the dessert deserved praise.
Rugelach is a tasty pastry filled with fruit or chocolate, usually with nuts. Smalls first discovered rugelach while training in the bakery at New York Presbyterian Hospital.
“I asked the chef to give me a try,” Smalls said. “Everything was from scratch then.”
Smalls would not reveal his secret ingredients, but he said the key lies in the dough. He has been buying the same brand flour, butter and cream cheese for decades, ensuring his customers receive the quality they crave.
“Cook the raisin to make it plump, sweet,” he told me. “Inside moist, outside flaky.”
You can visit Lee Lee’s Bakery on West 118th Street between Frederick Douglass and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevards.