Mrs Stahl’s Potato Knishes

"Fannie Stahl’s granddaughters summoned recovered memories to bring this recipe to life. Toby Engelberg, who sold her knishes in the Bay Area for a while, enlisted the help of her elder cousin from New York, Sara Spatz, who, as a young woman, worked in her grandmother’s shop in Brighton Beach. I was there to learn. What struck me most was the aroma. It filled the kitchen as soon the skins were peeled from the first onions, and lingered long after the last tray of knishes had cooled." - Laura Silver, 'Knish: In Search of Jewish Soul Food'.


  • Makes about 18 knishes
  • For the dough:
  • 3¼ cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • For the potato filling:
  • 4 pounds (1.8kg) russet or new potatoes
  • 1 cup oil
  • ¼ cup salt, or to taste
  • 1½ teaspoons pepper
  • 2 cups thinly sliced raw onions
  • Vegetable oil and flour as needed


  1. Turn on oven on low until dough is ready.
  2. Mix flour, sugar, and salt.
  3. Add oil and water.
  4. Mix with a spoon until the dough pulls together, or use a food processor or stand mixer (with a dough hook).
  5. Turn out the dough on board and knead it, incorporating all pieces. Knead until dough is one piece, smooth and glossy.
  6. Turn off the oven.
  7. Oil the dough and place it in oiled, covered bowl. Place in oven until you are ready to use it. Let the dough rest at least 2 hours; the dough should barely rise, if at all. Keeping the dough overnight in the refrigerator is fine. Bring it back to room temperature before use.
  8. Potato filling:
  9. Scrub potatoes and peel them, unless the new potatoes have very thin, unblemished skins.
  10. Boil potatoes for about 20 minutes until knife tender, then drain.
  11. Mash with a potato masher.
  12. Add oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Mix. Stir in the onion.
  13. Assembling and baking:
  14. Preheat oven to 450degF (230degC)
  15. Roll out about half the dough on a lightly floured counter or tabletop. Roll with rolling pin out from the centre until dough is thin enough to see through, about 1 ⁄16-inch (1.5mm) thick.
  16. Oil top edge of dough with a pastry brush.
  17. Place a line of filling the width of your thumb along the edge of the dough.
  18. Pick up top edge of dough and drape over filling. Roll the dough-covered log of filling two or three times, until the dough covers the filling securely.
  19. Use a knife to separate the filled potato knish log from the remaining dough. Cut off edges of filled dough.
  20. Cut the filled roll into pieces about 6 inches long and coil each piece like a snail.
  21. Tuck the remaining end into the bottom of the coil. Alternatively, place stuffed roll of dough onto ungreased cookie sheet and slash with a knife crosswise every 2 inches. Leave an inch of space between each roll or coil of dough.
  22. Bake 20–25 minutes (at 450degF/230degC) until the knish skin is browned and knishes are cooked through.
  23. Start knishes on lowest rack of the over and raise them to top rack after about 10–12 minutes.
  24. Let the knishes cool in pan. If you cooked the knishes in long rolls, cut them into individual pieces. Knishes can be reheated in the oven or in a skillet on the stove top.


Excerpted from Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food by Laura Silver, Brandeis University Press/University Press of New England, May 6, 2014.

Feature image by Nam Nguyen, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.