Today, the fundraisers have morphed into food fairs where the communities boast of serving authentic New York deli food as well as "start from scratch" Jewish kugels, blintzes, and schnecken
. "You don't have to know how to pronounce rugelach or challah to know how delicious these baked goods are," boasts the Montgomery fair's promotional material.
This time I noticed a theme: rugelach and schnecken, rolled and filled pastries.
Schnecken were very popular as breakfast treats throughout Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where many bakers happened to be Jewish.
Schnecken are the predecessors to the American sticky bun, the sweet roll, the iconic rest-stop treat Cinnabon, and the delectable pecan roll that I used to eat at Drake's in Ann Arbor, when I studied at the University of Michigan.
Schnecken arrived in America with Germans and German Jews in the 19th century.
Classic schnecken are a bit crisper than American sticky buns.
Stephanie Levine, from New Haven, Conn., who shared her grandmother Bessie's schnecken recipe with me, explained that her grandmother always made schnecken (or were they rugelach?) filled with raisins and chopped walnuts and topped with cinnamon sugar.
It seems that on this side of the Atlantic, schnecken often loses the yeast and the sour cream and became more like rugelach.
Grandma Bessie Weinstein's Schnecken Adapted from Stephanie Levine
William Greenberg Jr.'s Schnecken Adapted from Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Cookbook
Trim the ends of the rolls slightly and cut each into 12 slices, about 1 inch thick for the regular schnecken and 1/2 inch thick for the mini schnecken.