Every pizza store in my neighborhood growing up sold cherry-cheese knishes along with the requisite potato and kasha, but cherry-cheese were the ones that were most often in my house because they were my fathers favorite. Every Saturday night my father would request one from the pizza store and we had to wait to see which one of us would be the lucky (read: annoyed) one chosen to get it. Often, one of us would have one foot out the door and think we were safe when we would get the missive "one cherry cheese knish please when you get back." You could never escape the cherry- cheese knish run. I have been searching for YEARS for a recipe for these famous cherry-cheese knishes of my youth but to no avail and so I finally had to come up with one on my own. I have to say, they come pretty darn close. The filling has the same not too sweet but bursting with cherry flavor that I remember. The crust though is a little different, not the soft almost soggy crust of yore but slightly crispy and I think the crispiness is a good contrast to the creamy center though after refrigeration they get a similar soft texture to the standard knish. I used a very high quality cherry filling made with 70% percent cherries that I happened to have from a gourmet baking store but you can use any cherry filling or easily make your own from canned or jarred cherries. A bite of these takes me right back to JII pizza on Ave J. Great memories of a great knish. Enjoy!
For the crust: ( from Smitten Kitchen)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup water
In the bottom of your mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together the egg, vinegar, oil and water till combined. Add to the mixer and mix on low until a dough is formed. Once the dough is formed let the mixer knead the dough until smooth. Alternatively you can do this by hand in a large bowl. Refrigerate the dough for about an hour. Some oil may seep out as it is resting but re-kneading it a little will fix that.
For the filling:
2 1/4 cups farmer's cheese or 500 grams/ 2 packages of Tuv Taam cheese in Israel
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbl flour + extra for rolling the dough
1 cup cherry filling (homemade or store bought)
1 beaten egg for egg washing the dough
Mix together (either by hand or with a mixer) the farmer's cheese, cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla till combined. Add in the flour and mix until incorporated. Swirl the cherry filling into the mixture. You don't want it to be totally combined, you want to see the contrast of pink and white.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees (190C)
Flour a rolling pin and board and roll the dough to form a long rectangle. You want the dough to be pretty thin, just thick enough that it will hold the filling without breaking. Place the mixture along the long side of the rectangle and then roll up the rectangle jellyroll style. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and brush the beaten egg over the dough. Bake for about 40-45 minutes until golden brown.