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What are Kichel?

One of my absolute favorite things from a Jewish bakery! Kichel are delish, for starters! Kichel (also called Jewish Bow Tie Cookies) is actually the Yiddish word for cookie, but for those of us regulars at Jewish bakeries, we know that it means a specific type of cookie – a light, airy, crunchy, kind of part cookie/part cracker, usually coated in sugar, yet eaten both as a sweet and with savory. How’s that for an overbroad definition?

Why are Kichel also Called Jewish Bow Tie Cookies?

If you have not had kichel, just try one. The dough is very simple, made mostly from eggs, a bit of oil, and flour. The sweetness comes from the sugar coating.

Growing up, our local Jewish bakery made kichel that were square shaped. It was not until I was older and venturing out to other bakeries (sounds like I was cheating on my local bakery!) that I discovered that most kichel are shaped into bow ties. How fun!

Developing this Kichel Recipe

With so many traditional Jewish bakeries closing over the past 15 years or so, I fear that kichel in America could die with them. Not on my watch!

Last year, I decided to do some kichel recipe research. While I have a bunch of Jewish cookbooks, I do not believe any of them have a kichel recipe. (I say “do not believe” because they are in a box in storage for the time being, and I have not had the desire to hunt for them.) So, I got onto the Google machine to see what I could find.

I was surprised to find only a couple different recipes for kichel. Most bloggers republished the outstanding recipe from the 2011 cookbook by Stanley Ginsberg and Norman Berg, “Inside the Jewish Bakery: Recipes and Memories from the Golden Age of Jewish Baking”. The other recipe I found out there is from Joan Nathan, published in Tablet Magazine, which is actually a recipe from a Jewish bakery in Michigan.

I will tell you that both those recipes deliver outstanding kichel. That said, I wanted a recipe that is more accessible – both recipes produced a LOT of kichel, more than I should be eating. (No self-control here.) In addition, the recipe from Ginsberg and Berg uses 4 eggs plus 9 egg yolks. That’s a heck of a lot of eggs, and a lot of work to separate that many eggs, especially for a multi-tasking home baker.

So, I embarked on developing a more approachable recipe. This recipe renders delish kichel, uses just 4 eggs (only one of which needs to be separated), and results in a sensible 36 cookies.

Kichel Making Tips

Here are some tips for making kichel:

  • Use the mixer. You must knead the dough to develop the gluten in the flour. Especially because this is such a sticky dough, it is much easier to use the mixer, stopping every few minutes to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  • Don’t skimp on the sugar. Use the sugar to roll out the dough, both on the bottom and top of the dough. If the dough absorbs some of the sugar, add more sugar. The sugar will prevent the dough from sticking as you roll it out and shape the kichel. When you cut the rectangles and shape into bow ties, cover any exposed pieces of dough in more sugar.
  • Bake them thoroughly. Do not underbake kichel. You want them to dry out and harden. Underbaking could result in them collapsing. Err on the side of overbaking without letting them burn. If you are baking two trays at the same time on different oven racks, be sure to switch and rotate them half way through the baking process.
Mound of kichel dough on sugar with sugar on top
Once the dough is formed and rested, mound it onto a generous layer of sugar. Pour more sugar on top and roll the dough out.
kichel dough spread to 7 inches by 12 inches on a bed of sugar and covered with sugar
Roll the dough to a rectangle, approximately 7 inches by 12 inches.
kichel dough cut into 1 inch by 2 inch rectangles
Cut rectangles, approximately 1 inch by 2 inches each. They don’t need to be perfect!
Individual kichel dough twisted into bow ties
Gently stretch them and twist the middle around. Cover any exposed dough with more sugar and place on baking sheets a couple inches apart from each other.
Baked kichel on cooling rack
Cool completely and let them stay out at room temperature for a few hours to ensure they are fully dried out.


Kichel (Jewish Bow Tie Cookies)

5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Resting time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 36 cookies
Calories 62
This traditional Jewish cookie was a staple at Jewish bakeries. This easy to make recipe will take you back to your childhood.

Ingredients

  • 190 g. all purpose flour (1½ cups plus 1 tbsp.)
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 76 g. vegetable oil (⅓ cup plus 1 tbsp.)
  • tsp. vanilla
  • 150 g. sugar, divided (¾ cup)

Instructions 

  • In a small bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside
  • In mixer with paddle attachment, combine eggs, egg yolk, oil and vanilla. Mix on low speed until fully combined, 30-60 seconds. With mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients in three stages until fully combined. You may have to stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times. Continue beating for 15-20 minutes to develop the gluten, stopping every 5 minutes or so to scrape down the sides of the bowl. The dough will be very sticky.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Liberally spread approximately ¼ cup sugar on parchment paper set on countertop. (You can do this directly on the countertop, but it makes for a much easier cleanup to do it on parchment paper.) Use a rubber spatula or bowl scraper to scoop the sticky dough onto the top of the sugar. Liberally spread an additional ¼ cup of sugar on top of the mound of dough. Roll dough to approximately ¼ inch thick, using a bench scraper to guide the dough to create and maintain a rectangle, approximately 7 inches by 12 inches. Continue to coat the dough in sugar (top and bottom) as necessary while rolling out the dough.
  • With a pizza cutter or a knife, cut rectangles, 1 inch by 2 inches. (Make 1 inch cuts along the side of the dough that is 7 inches, and make 2 inch cuts along the side of the dough that is 12 inches.) Twist each rectangle in the middle. Place on prepared baking sheet, 2 inches apart from each other. Bake 25-30 minutes until the edges and bottoms are deep golden brown. Allow to cool completely, leaving them out at room temperature for several hours.

Video

Notes

  • For puffier Kichel, bake on the bottom third of the oven. 
  • Kichel will stay fresh for at least several days stored in an airtight container. They also freeze very well.
Author: Rob Finkelstein
Calories: 62kcal
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Jewish
Keyword: bow tie, cookies, kichel

Nutrition

Calories: 62kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 45mg | Potassium: 12mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 27IU | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @CinnamonShtick on Instagram and use the hashtag #cinnamonshtick!

9 Comments

  1. I absolutely adore sweet kichel, and these look perfect. Can’t wait to try your recipe, thanks for publishing.

      • barry reubens Reply

        5 stars
        Thanks Rob. excellent! By chance do you know of the jewish bakery danish dough ( the non folding type) ?

        • Rob Finkelstein Reply

          Unfortunately, I do not. If I come across it, I will certainly let you know!

  2. 5 stars
    These were amazing, tasted just like the kichel I had growing up from our local jewish bakery.

  3. 5 stars
    These Kichel are amazing! I’ve followed this recipe a few times now and they’ve become a staple in my kitchen. Have started making them with cinnamon sugar as well : )

  4. I have these in the oven now. The dough was very sticky and I couldn’t roll it out. Did my best with my fingers. They will be more like blobs than bow ties. Were too sticky, with that said, I have a feeling these will taste wonderful. Follows directions to a tee and watched video a coupled times. Any suggestions for next time?

    • Rob Finkelstein Reply

      The dough should be very sticky. It sounds like you may not have used enough sugar under and on top of the dough. The sugar will stick to the dough and allow you to run a rolling pin over it. Regardless of shape, they should still taste delish!

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