Bubbe’s Potato Knishes
The dough for this knish recipe is very versatile and was the basis for many of the strudels and knishes my mother made, sweet or savory. Her specialties were cheese knishes (farmer’s cheese with onions and dill, mixed with a little egg to hold the mixture together) and raisin strudel (finely chopped raisins and nuts held together with a little strawberry or apricot jam with the dough topped with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar). All of them were tightly rolled in the same dough and cut into those perfect bite-sized pieces.
- Potato Filling
- 5 pounds potatoes (red or russet), peeled and cut into large chunks
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and a drizzle, separated
- 3 pounds onions, diced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 cup corn or vegetable oil
- 2-3 cups unbleached flour
- For filling, boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Drain and cool. While potatoes are boiling, heat oil in a large frying pan. Add onions and sauté on medium heat until golden brown. Mash potatoes until smooth. Add cooked onions, drizzle of oil and salt and pepper to taste and mix well to blend.
- For dough, combine water and vegetable oil in a large bowl. Add 1 cup flour and stir to blend. Measure out a second cup of flour and gradually add to mixture until it becomes doughy and elastic. You can use your hands to mix and knead the dough once the dough starts to come together. If it is still sticky, add additional flour gradually. The dough should end up soft, pliable, shiny and greasy to the touch.
- To make the knishes, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 3 balls. Roll out one ball on a floured surface until very thin, almost translucent and shaped into an oval that is longer than it is wide. It should measure about 12 to14 inches long by 5 to 6 inches wide.
- Spoon 1 to 1 ½ cups of filling onto dough in a flattened log-like shape, about 1 to 1 ½ inches in diameter, onto 1/3 of the dough, leaving a ½-inch border of dough on the edge closest to you. Imagine the potato mixture as a long thick hot dog that you will wrap dough around. Use more potato mixture if you like really thick knishes with a lot of filling, but be sure to leave enough dough to wrap around the filling a few times.
- Start at the long edge of the dough closest to you, and roll and wrap the dough around the potato mixture tightly to create a long horizontal log. Continue rolling the dough around itself until you have wrapped it a few times. The dough is very stretchy and pretty forgiving, but because it is thin, wrapping it a few times will cover any holes that pop through. Close the ends by pinching the dough together or folding ends under. This takes some practice, so be patient with yourself. Repeat with remaining balls of dough and filling.
- Gently lift the knish “logs” and place seam side down on cookie sheets, leaving space between. Lightly score the top of each log with horizontal angled cuts about an inch apart across length of the log to define each bite size piece that you will cut after the knish is baked. Do not cut through. You can get 10 to 15 knish pieces from each roll depending on how long you make the logs. At this point, you can flash freeze the logs on a baking sheet. Once firm, wrap tightly and freeze to bake later. When ready to use, defrost on parchment-lined pans.
- To bake fresh or defrosted knishes, brush the top of each log lightly with oil and bake until golden and crisp, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cut along scored lines and place knish pieces on platter to serve immediately.
- To freeze cooked knishes, cool and wrap tightly. To serve, defrost frozen knishes completely on parchment-lined baking sheet, brush with a little oil and sprinkle with salt if you like. Bake at 375 degrees until crisp and golden, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- If you run out of dough before you run out of filling, make another batch of dough, or just serve mashed potatoes with onions at your next meal. If you have too many fried onions, save them in a glass jar and use them next time you make something with fried onions, which in our house, is almost every meal. If you run out of filling before the dough, freeze the leftover dough and use it when you have some extra apples or peaches or blueberries and make a strudel.