The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Knish with Sourdough Wrapper?

webmanoffesto's picture

Knish with Sourdough Wrapper?

Answering my own question (partially)

My tests today seem to tell me that minimizing the rolling so that I get one layer of dough with enough overlap to seal the edge matters more than whether or not I use sourdough or the simple flour-water-oil-salt-BakingSoda recipe. 

I'd still like to hear opinions from other people.



Can I make a thin-dough knish using sourdough? Or should I use a baking-soda-leavened dough, or a simple flour-water-salt-oil version? The recipes online are often leavened with baking powder and say that you have to put it in the stand-mixer, which I don't have; or give it a good 10-15 minute kneading by hand, which I don't want to do.  I'm confused about sourdough vs. dough-with-baking-power vs. dough-with-no-baking-powder. At this point I'm tempted to go with Joe Pastry's "Traditional Knish Dough" which does use baking powder but does not require kneading. Would you give me your opinion(s) on how to proceed and get that thin dough covering?

I have a sourdough starter and I'm baking tasty sourdough bread regularly. Since I'm handy with making sourdough, I love that I can easily make a batch of dough with no kneading. Now I decided to make knishes and rather than the baking-soda-leavened dough I used my sourdough dough. I did that and the knish had a thick bready wrapper, it was more like a bread roll with a potato filling in the center. I think that "authentic" knishes have a thin dough wrapper.

One possible solution, when I made the knish I rolled out all the dough, spooned all the filling onto the dough in a line, and then rolled it up. I may have rolled it too many times, maybe 2 rolls (layers) would have been plenty. Or I could make the knishes using only one layer of dough, by making individual dumpling style knishes.

Below are just a few of the knish dough recipes I found online. 

Serious Eats, Potato Knish Dough, with baking powder 

  • 2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup water

The Spruce Eats, Knish Dough, no baking powder, but uses cream cheese, and sour cream?

  • 8 ounces butter (unsalted, softened)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Joe Pastry, Traditional Knish Dough, does not use baking powder and says to just mix the ingredients together and "Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough sit for an hour at room temperature to relax and hydrate."

Here's a Torta di Patate recipe and the dough is only flour, salt, water, and olive oil.


Recipe Lion, Knish Dough, no baking powder

Thin-dough covered knishes

 Let the comparison experiments begin. 







bonnibakes's picture

I grew up in Brooklyn, I'm 75, Jewish and I know a classic knish when I see/eat one. Several years ago when I was living in Florida I was aching for a real thin crusted NY knish. I searched the web looking for that recipe, trying many along the way, with no success UNTIL I discovered this lengthy article and recipe on I don't know who Pam is, but she nailed it! I've  made them many times, especially for customers at my bakery/cafe who were northern transplants, and we all agreed on their authenticity. Now I'm back living in Brooklyn but the old knish sources are no longer around so I still make them for friends & family. Here's the link and I suggest you read it and give it a try. The dough is thin, stretches and the method of how to place the filling then seal the dough is old-school but works so well. I don't think you'll be disappointed. 

webmanoffesto's picture

Thank you for the link. That's a great recipe. I'm a beginner, but I think the key point is that this is a stretched dough. I believe stretched dough is also what's used for strudel. That also makes sense because both strudel and knishes are European / East European. And I believe the stretched dough would become like Filo dough if you put butter on the thin dough and then folded it or rolled it. This seems to be supported by The Spruce Eats: Traditional Viennese Strudel Dough,

It's interesting that the EGullet, Knish Dough is

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup oil 
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp. white vinegar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 large eggs

(And the Joe Pastry, Traditional Knish Dough, No Kneading has the same ingredients as the EGullet one above.)

While The Spruce Eats strudel recipe omits the vinegar, baking powder, and eggs. It is only

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (300 g.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon neutral oil (30 mL)
  • 13 tablespoons lukewarm water (200 mL)

I wonder in what ways the  EGullet, Knish Dough will be different from the Spruce Eats strudel dough. I know that adding the baking powder and vinegar will create leavening in (almost) the same way that yeast will. But if the dough has a leavening agent (such as baking-powder-and-vinegar or yeast) and then we roll it out, we expel the bubbles that were created by the leavener. I think that may in some way facilitate the gluten and make it more possible to stretch the dough. 

I made flatbread with no leavening. I was able to roll that out into a circle, but I don't think it would have stretched. If I tried to stretch it, it probably would have torn. (More kitchen testing comparisons required.)  

Another strudel dough link, with beautiful photographs LilVienna, How to Make Paper-Thin Strudel Dough. This recipe does not use any leavener. So if it's a thinly stretched dough and it does NOT use the leaven-it-then-roll-it-out method, what is the point of the leaven-it-then-roll-it-out method? 


bonnibakes's picture

It isn't meant to be thin enough to read through, as with strudel dough, which is wrapped several times around a filling. This knish dough is used in a single layer to embrace the filling and has to be strong & stretch sufficiently to do that. If it's too thin it will tear.

webmanoffesto's picture

Good advice BonniBakes. I'll make sure to not roll the knish dough as thin as strudel dough.

webmanoffesto's picture

I emailed King Arthur flour asking about the leaven-it-then-roll-it-flat method. They wrote back saying, "adding leavening and eggs will make a flakier dough, because even if you roll it thin, you will still little pockets of air that has some moisture in it that will help it expand and make more layers." They also recommended that I try the different versions and see which I prefer. Good advice.