Cheater's Puff Pastry Pinwheels


How can you not love a recipe that starts with this dough is magical? And, in fact it is. This rugelach dough that I found in Kate Zukerman’s The Sweet Life will fool you into thinking that you spent hours bookfolding dough to achieve it’s tender puffy layers… only you will know differently. It’s almost ridiculously easy. The toughest part is having to wait several hours for the dough to chill. But, then it’s just a quick roll and a bake to little pinwheels of soft, tangy goodness.

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The first time I tried this dough, I stuck with just a slight variation to Zukerman’s original Walnut and Cinnamon Rugelach recipe, only substituting orange zest in place of the currents in the sweet filling. I’d make these again in a heart beat… but what I also found was that the dough was so light and mild, it would work equally well with savory fillings. So, I reworked a batch, with 1/2 the sugar, and rolled up one log with salmon and cream cheese and another with a simple pesto. It worked brilliantly, perfect for little party appetizers. You can play endlessly with combinations to use with this “magical” dough.

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Cheater’s Puff Pastry Pinwheels

The original recipe for this dough used cream cheese, but I substituted in quark, which has even more of a pleasantly sour flavor. If you do use quark, pour off any standing liquid first. If you are filling the pastry with sweet stuff, increase the sugar to 1 t.

4 oz butter, at room temperature
4 oz cream cheese or quark, at room temperature
1 cup flour
1/4 t salt
1/2 t sugar

Sift together the flour, salt and sugar. Set aside.

Cream the butter and soft cheese together on medium until it is light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, beating until well combined. Increase the speed to medium, and beat for about 15 seconds.

Scrape the dough onto plastic wrap and press into a flat disk. Then, double rap the dough and refrigerate overnight.

To use, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle about 12 x 16 inches. Then, cut into two 6 x 16 pieces. Fill as desired with the long side facing you, and roll up. Wrap the dough in wrap again and chill for 30 minutes. Or, if you want, you can freeze the log to use later in the week.

To cook, slice the log into 1-inch cross sections, and place each little round about 1 inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes, or until the dough is a light golden brown. Allow the pinwheels to cool for about 15 minutes before serving. They will keep up to 4 days, depending on your filling.

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0 thoughts on “Cheater's Puff Pastry Pinwheels

  1. What a fantastic “cheaters” recipe. I will have to definitely try this. And thank you for the lovely pictures accompanying this recipe. Happy new year.

  2. Oh wow I will definitely have to make those. I love rugelach but hate fussing with the dough so this seems perfect. Thanks for posting the recipe!

  3. They do look and sound quite good, but I must admit that I’m a little hesitant about how ‘puffy’ the dough actually is – how well would you say it puffs in comparison to a conventional puff pastry dough?

  4. Hi Ellie – quite close actually, at least when you roll it. I haven’t tried it rolled out as a tart though, so I don’t know if that works.

    Thanks all!

  5. Hmmm. I have been looking for an excuse to bake today, though I was thinking savory. I’m wondering, if I should reduce the sugar a bit? Or do you think that would alter the dough too much? Either way, lovely little bites, to be sure. Happiest of New Year’s to you and yours.

  6. Hi Tara – The recipe is already adjusted for more savory dishes, so you shouldn’t need to reduce the sugar more… if you wanted to make rugelach, I’d increase the sugar to a full teaspoon. Happy New Year!

  7. I made these for a New Year’s Day party to great acclaim. A detailed post of the fillings I used is on my blog (with full credit to you!). Thank you so much for this fabulous recipe!

  8. Okay, I am not afraid to look stupid- what is a quark (food-wise)? I work at a nuclear physics lab and there quarks have nothing to do with food (and they never appear alone)BTW- this recipe sounds delicious!

  9. My goodness, my apologies for my earlier question. I hadn’t noticed your mention of this dough already being suited for savory – thank you for answering my redundant question!

  10. I made these last night and they were delicious. I made the pastry gluten free and filled it with pesto. My very picky 5 year old nephew even liked them!

  11. Hi L — I have these on tap for a cocktail party this weekend. Have any idea how many pieces each batch makes? (I’m trying to decide whether a double-batch would be enough)


  12. I have been searching for way to make puff pastry GF. If possible, would you mind sending me your recipe. My husband must eat GF and I am so happy to hear that you were able to make it without the gluten.

    Any help would be appreciated. Have a great day.

  13. Hi Melissa,

    I’m sure there are ways to make puff pastry gluten free… but I didn’t do that for this recipe, nor have I even tried. You might just try substituting a gluten free pastry flour for the all-purpose I used… it sounds like one of the other readers did this with good results. Also, I’d highly recommend checking out Shauna’s blog, Gluten Free Girl, for loads of great gluten free recipes.


  14. thank you for the great recipe! I am gluten free and did successfully make this dough with gluten free flour (1/2 bob’s red mill all purpose bean flour and 1/2 plain white rice flour). however, as with all gluten free baking I added the necessities….1/2 t baking powder, 1/2 t baking soda and 1/2 t guar gum. I also rolled it out on (rice) floured parchment since g/f tends to be sticky. I made one 1/2 of the dough with a simple melted butter/sugar/cinnamon filling and the other with a sweet cream cheese filling. yum! next time I’m trying a savory spinach and cheese filling. I have a g/f pastry recipe but never tried it. yours was too simple to ignore!! now I’ll throw the other one away! glad I found this!

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