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Recipe Collection

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Prep time: 30-40 mins + 2 hours for dough to rest

Cook time: 45-50 mins

Yield: About 18 knishes

User Rating:
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Rating: 3.5/4 (4 votes cast)

Fannie Stahl’s granddaughters summoned recovered memories to bring this recipe to life. Toby Engelberg, who sold her knishes in the Bay Area for a while, enlisted the help of her elder cousin from New York, Sara Spatz, who, as a young woman, worked in her grandmother’s shop in Brighton Beach. I was there to learn. What struck me most was the aroma. It filled the kitchen as soon the skins were peeled from the first onions and lingered long after the last tray of knishes had cooled. Excerpted from Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food by Laura Silver (Brandeis University Press/University Press of New England, 2014). 

Ingredients

  • Dough
  • 3¼ cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • Filling
  • 6 pounds russet or new potatoes
  • 1 cup oil
  • ¼ cup salt, or to taste
  • 1½ teaspoon pepper
  • 8 cups raw onions, thinly sliced
  • Vegetable oil and flour as needed for assembling and baking

Preparation

  • Turn on oven on a low temperature until dough is ready. Mix flour, sugar and salt. Add oil and water. Mix with a spoon until the dough pulls together, or use a food processor or stand mixer (with a dough hook). Turn out the dough on board and knead it, incorporating all pieces. Knead until dough is one piece, smooth and glossy. Turn off the oven. Oil the dough and place it in oiled, covered bowl. Place in oven until you are ready to use it. Let the dough rest at least 2 hours; the dough should barely rise, if at all. Keeping the dough overnight in the refrigerator is fine. Bring it back to room temperature before use.
  • Scrub potatoes and peel them, unless the new potatoes have very thin, unblemished skins. Boil potatoes for about 20 minutes until knife tender, then drain. Mash with a potato masher. Add oil, salt and pepper to taste. Mix. Stir in the onion.
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Position one rack in lower third and one in upper third of oven. Roll out about half the dough on a lightly floured counter or tabletop. Roll with handle-less rod-style rolling pin out from the center until dough is thin enough to see through, about 1 ⁄16-inch thick.
  • Oil top edge of dough with a pastry brush. Place a 2-inch-diameter line of filling about 2 inches from the top edge of the dough. Pick up top edge and drape over filling. Brush oil on dough in a 2-inch strip on the bottom edge of the filling. Pick up the dough with filling and roll again onto the oiled dough, compressing the filled dough as you turn it. Repeat until the dough covers the filling three to four times, being sure always to brush oil on the dough first. Use a knife to separate the filled potato knish log from the remaining dough. Cut off edges of filled dough. Cut the filled roll into pieces about 6 inches long and coil each piece like a snail. Tuck the remaining end into the bottom of the coil. Alternatively, place stuffed roll of dough onto ungreased cookie sheet and slash with a knife crosswise every 2 inches. Leave an inch of space between each roll or coil of dough.
  • Bake 20 to 25 minutes until the knish skin is browned and knishes are cooked through, starting knishes on lowest rack of the over and raising them to top rack after about 10 to 12 minutes. Let the knishes cool in pan. If you cooked the knishes in long rolls, cut them into individual pieces.
  • Knishes can be reheated in the oven or in a skillet on the stovetop.
  • Recipe reprinted from Faith Kramer, “Mrs. Stahl’s Famous Knish Recipe Finally Found—in San Francisco,” j. the Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, September 27, 2012.

3 Responses

  1. leonard shapiro says:

    I happened to be in the restaurant formerly occupied by Mrs Stahls, in brighton beach,brooklyn.
    I entered to buy pizza,2 slices with can of soda for $5. It was a good deal and the pizza was good.
    Mrs. Stahls is now a pizza joint. It has replaced a Subway,which was there for years.
    As soon as I entered, I saw the place was different.
    The pizza oven was on the side facing the customer.there was a long display case with all the varieties of pizza available. Mrs Stahls ovens were in the back,and there were a few places to sit and eat.
    It was very plain and no frills. You were there for the knishes.
    I asked a store clerk i she knew how famous this store was for making some of the best knishes in new york city.
    Her reply was, what’s a knish?
    so,I was saddened by this sorry state of affairs.But not surprised.
    after all, brighton beach is predominantly Russian,with many minorities. across the street from the pizza place is a huge food mart
    called Tashkent.It sells much lamb for the locals who eat it by the ton.
    Huge whole legs of lamb are available.
    then there is a large hot food aisle with all kinds of cooked foods.
    But NO KNISHES. there are blintzes,and dough, filled with different
    foods, but nothing close to a real knish. In fact, you cannot buy a real knish in brighton beach anymore.The Russians sell a large fried
    piece of dough with a small amount of meat,cabbage or potato inside for about $1.50. Its awful, unless you love fried dough.
    they sell it from the windows of large food marts, in small display cases and microwave it for you. Mostly non-english speaking women are the sellers. when the Russians first came to brighton beach,they started selling them for 40c,and they were fresher.now,not many people buy them anymore.
    they are lousy. Mrs.Stahls knishes were good,hot, delicious. a bygone era of jewishy life,jewish food,and jewish people,in brighton beach,brooklyn.

  2. Neil says:

    Fond memories of the potato and kasha knishes when we went to brighten beach We loved them at home. As no place to sit in store under the. EL

  3. Dee Unger says:

    In 1946 my Mm rented a cottage on Brighton 5th Street. A day never went by without a knish from Mrs. Stahl. My mouth is watering judt thinkng about this Jewish delight. After one taste of Mrs. Stahl’s knish, you wouldn’t want any other. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

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