Every Rosh Hashanah, my grandmother Rhoda, a proud Rigan, boiled knots of dough in honey syrup until they were as golden and shiny as amber, and almost as hard. She’d place each pastry in a cupcake liner, where the remnants of the glaze would drip down and solidify into a chewy foot that could yank out your fillings. These were teiglach, as beautiful as they were austere, and a delicacy in my family. You may be more familiar with the teiglach made by Lithuanians, a heap of dough nuggets held together by the sticky glaze they were cooked in, sometimes with nuts or candied fruit thrown in. And if those sound like Italian struffoli, you wouldn’t be wrong. Teiglach’s roots go back to the vermiculos of ancient Rome, fried squiggles of dough smothered in honey and seasoned with pepper. And, like many things Jewish, teiglach’s sweet rewards come with the risk of pain. Or, at least, a visit to the dentist.
Gabriella Gershenson is a food writer and editor based in New York. She writes the Bits and Bites column for the Wall Street Journal.