“Rugelach By A Brother”
Rugelach, those crescent filled sweet pastry, are the best known and most popular of all Ashkenazic baked goods in America, according to Gil Marks, author of the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. But some of the best in the city can be found at Lee Lee’s Baked Goods in Harlem. Its owner, Alvin Lee Smalls, who is also the baker, is known affectionately as “Lee Lee,” or “Mr. Lee.” He’s been baking for 50 years; first by running the bakery at New York Hospital and then 19 years ago opening his own bakery.
While Lee Lee sells a variety of baked goods, people come from near and far for his buttery “rugelach by a brother,” as he calls them. Why rugelach? He told me that he saw a recipe in the newspaper many years ago and decided to give them a try. He baked them over and over again until he found just the right flavor and texture. He wouldn’t share his special ingredients but said when he retires he hopes to publish a cookbook and all will be revealed then.
Lee Lee bakes 3 flavors of rugelach — apricot, chocolate and raspberry — but call ahead to see what’s available on any given day. You can also order them online.