Before anyone, I had to meet Oded’s (my husband) grandmother and grandfather. Without their approval, our relationship was doomed. Luckily, I passed.
Aliza and Naftali, his grandparents, turned into my grandparents. Not long after we met, I was introduced to Aliza’s famous pugachas. I didn’t get the hype; they were hard and had a strong margarine after-taste. Not for me, I told Oded, who politely told me I would be going against the entire family with my pugacha opinion.
A few months back, Aliza decided to make the pugachas with butter, just like her mother did for her as a child in Hungary. And then I was hooked.
By random chance one Saturday evening, Aliza sat down and told us her and Naftali’s memories of the pugachas, stories that even Oded never heard. I was left speechless. I knew from that moment that I would have to videotape her, making them and telling those exact stories she had just told me.
For days I walked around with the feeling of awe how those cookies had served as something so meaningful in her life, cookies that represent family- a family that once was and disintegrated into the atrocities of the holocaust, and the family which she created for herself, here in Israel.
The day I came back home from the shoot, I brought a bag full of pugachas. Eviatar, my oldest son had invited some friends over after school. When I took out the bag of cookies, he grabbed it from me and started to offer his friends the goods, like a seller in the local market, “Who wants my great-grandmothers pugachas…the best in the world..who wants??”
I stood aside as watched as they devoured her cookies.
It was her win. Her great grandson was passing out her cookies, the same cookies that she made with her grandmother, 70 years prior.
This video is just the beginning of our hope to tell continue telling stories through food-to document those who unfortunately will not be with us much longer, and to commemorate history through food and story-telling.
If you are reading this, and you have a grandmother/father or relative with a story and a recipe that you think is worthy of documenting, we would love to hear about it, taste it and video it. So get in touch with us via comment or email.
Putting aside Aliza’s amazing story for a moment- objectively these cookies are quite the consensus. Everyone who tastes them loves them, even though they are so simple, in their taste and texture. They are crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside and have a rich buttery flavor. They have just the right sweetness and are perfect next to a hot cup of tea.
Ingredients for about 70 cookies:
4.5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup self-rising flour
14 oz./400 grams butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
A pinch of salt
2 eggs + 1 egg, beaten, for brushing
1/4 teaspoon dry instant yeast
- Sift both flours into a mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix using a paddle attachment for about 2-3 minutes, until soft dough is formed. It’s recommended (but not a must) to refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes before baking.
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
- Working on a well floured surface, roll out the dough to out to 1-inch/3 cm. thick. Use a knife to gently make diagonal lines, horizontally and then vertically.
- Using a 1-inch/3 cm. cookie cutter, cut out cookies
- Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with the beaten egg
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.