Sharing Food and Memories with Friends and Family

April 25, 2010
Irene Saiger


Blueberry Buns (Bilkelach)

Blueberries are my favorite summer fruit.  I love the color, texture, the whimsical crown perched on top.  I mean who can resist a crown?  Plus all the memories associated with this small delicious berry that was plentiful on the East Coast.  As a child I picked blueberries in Lakewood, New Jersey,  and watched my Tante Marisha and mother prepare blueberry bilkelach.  We would eat them straight from the oven, the warm berries oozing out with that very first bite.  They were also a favorite beach treat,  both filling and sweet, and when warmed by the summer sun, the perfect afternoon snack on those hot days spent at Orchard Beach.  At The Rendezvous, a corner bodega under our apartment building in the Bronx, they made fresh blueberry ice cream during the summer.  If you have ever had the good fortune of eating fresh blueberry ice cream, then you know it has a distinctive smell, something I had forgotten until recently.

Other blueberry-related memories include reading a wonderful book called Blueberries for Sal to my children, and listening to the song Blueberry Pie by Bette Midler.

Life is peachy, let’s go bananas,
no one will care!
Blueberry Pie, let’s have fun,
’cause when all is said and done
I love you, yes I do,
’cause, Blueberry, you’re true blue. 

There was a trip to Maine when we picked blueberries on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park.  And during our summer visits to Bubbie and Zaide in Toronto, I discovered that these same blueberry buns were a local specialty in the Jewish bakeries.  My mother’s first cousin, Rose Blatman, made a delicious blueberry cake, and I have a favorite peach and blueberry cobbler recipe that I make each summer.  Baking Blueberry buns, or Jagda Bilkelach, which is what they are called in Yiddish, is a great way to spend time making something special for your family to eat, something that they can learn to associate with summer.

Summer days should be like that.  Try them.

Make your favorite challah recipe or if you use my recipe, cut it in half.


Blueberry Buns ( The photo is of my husband’s Toronto version, folded on the side but I prefer them pinched on the top)


2 cups fresh blueberries

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

Mix blueberries, flour and sugar, and let stand for about 5 minutes.

Divide dough into 8 – 10 equal portions.  Roll dough on floured board into ovals about 1/8 inch in thickness.  If the dough is too thick, the buns will open up on the sides and look like a danish, if too thin, they may split at the top.  Place a heaping tablespoon of filling in center and bring sides of dough to the top and pinch closed.  Brush with beaten egg.  Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or till golden.



12 thoughts on “Blueberry Buns (Bilkelach)

  1. Thanks, Irene, for the delicious recipe!

    Read about my efforts here, if you like:

    I’m happy to have made your acquaintance!


    • Irene, I hope you’ve been well! I am turning my food blog into an iPad app and would love to include your buns, if I may, with credit to you.
      I’ll let you know when the app is available–I’m hoping to have it up on the Apple store soon after the first of the year.

  2. Pingback: Having fun with challah dough: Knishes and Blueberry Buns « The Plate is My Canvas

  3. Apple cake is coming soon!

  4. Hi, Irene.

    I think that yagdeh bilkalech were and still are my favorite pastry. That is why both of us love every type of berry pie and fruit pie, for that matter. They are a reminder of our youth and all the wonderful memories of more carefree days. Remember mommy’s apple cake?


  5. i had in your home when norman prepared them and it was wonderful, we all loved them, go for it, love rachel

  6. Mmmm. It ALMOST makes me want to bake!
    (but instead I’ll hope to partake of yours…)

  7. Hi Irene, It’s Beth from OMG! Yummy again. Loved these past two posts. I wanted to tell you that my mom’s family is from a small town in Poland as well and she was raised in New York City. I grew up visiting family in Brooklyn and smelling my grandmother’s challah on Friday nights when we arrived. We were driving in from Pittsfield, MA. And this post reminded me that we used to go blueberry picking every year at the base of Mt. Greylock in the Berkshires. Thanks for sharing the memories and recipes.

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