In Jewish Lithuania, a special High Holiday treat was Taiglach.
Jews have prepared special foods just for the holidays for at least 1,700 years, when Talmudic sage Abaye recommended eating foods which symbolize a good new year (Keritot 6a). In 16th century Poland, R. Moshe Isserles noted with approval the custom of serving all sorts of sweets, with a prayer that God grant us a sweet new year.
In Jewish Lithuania, a special High Holiday treat was Taiglach. Jews from that area, known as Litvaks, delighted in this confection.
Recipes for Taiglach vary from simple to exquisitely complex. They all have in common the basic ingredients: dough, cut into small pieces, given a crunchy crust and then covered with a syrup of boiled honey.
In some recipes, the dough gets rolled into a rope, then simply cut into chickpea sized bits. Other recipes call for tying the dough into little knots, or making miniature circlets, as if for tiny doughnuts or bagels. The name “taiglach” is a diminutive plural of the Yiddish word for dough, “taig.” Taiglach are “little doughs” or, in more idiomatic English, “little bits of dough.”
Meanwhile, the recipes call bringing honey — perhaps with some other ingredients — to a boil to make a thick syrup. Many of the recipes suggest adding spices, usually ginger and cinnamon.
The recipes vary about what to do next. Some call for frying the dough bits, some for toasting them, some for drying them in the sun. Some forgo the drying entirely, and just add the dough bits a few at a time to the honey syrup as it boils. Most recipes call for adding toasted nuts. Once you have fried, dried or baked the dough, then you mix the dough bits into the syrup.
And there you have it: Taiglach. So sticky-sweet that you will want to eat only a small serving, washed down with a cup of hot tea or coffee.
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 cups flour
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ cup oil
- 4 eggs
- 20 ounces honey
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ cup water
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- ½ cup dried cherries
Sift together the sugar, flour and baking powder. Add in the eggs and the oil. Mix until a soft dough forms. Roll the dough into a thick rope and cut into small pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake at 375°F until brown, about 10 minutes.
Heat the honey, sugar, ginger, cinnamon and water in a pot until it boils. Add in the baked dough, nuts and dried cherries. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Once that’s done, uncover the pot and let it simmer slowly, stirring occasionally until all the honey is absorbed, about 10-20 minutes or until you start smelling a delicious caramel smell. Turn out onto a serving tray, shape into a mound, garnish with extra sliced almonds and dried cherries. Let cool and enjoy.
Recipe from Yocheved Perlman Magier of Cookies and More by Shelly and Yocheved. Visit at facebook.com/cookiesandmore2016.