This is the final instalment of my hamentashen treatise (see part 1 and part 2). Today we’re taking it old-school with the classic Poppy Seed Hamentashen. This is the hamentashen I grew up with. This recipe comes from Uri Scheft. These are the most popular hamentashen at Lehamim, his Tel Aviv bakery.Make sure you start with very fresh poppy seeds. You’ll need to grind them up a bit. I found that my spice grinder was perfect for the task. The poppy seeds get cooked down into a paste with some milk, sugar and butter. Lemon zest adds a perfect zing of freshness. I learned a great trick from Uri for keeping the hamentashen dough from getting soggy. A handful of cake or muffin crumbs absorb any moisture in the filling leading to hamentashen with a nice crisp bottom crust. I didn’t have any cake or muffin crumbs on hand, so I bought a package of 6 inexpensive white cupcakes at the supermarket, scraped off the icing and ground them up in the food processor to make crumbs. I let the crumbs sit out at room temperature for a few hours to let them dry out a bit. Extra crumbs can be stashed in a freezer bag for another day. I found it easiest to fill hamentashen if I first put the filling into a disposable piping bag.
Hamentashen are the traditional treat baked for the Jewish holiday of Purim, which falls on Sunday March 12 this year. Essentially, the Festival of Purim commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in ancient (4th century BCE) Persia were saved from extermination. If you’re curious to learn more about Purim, check out a more thorough post I wrote in 2012.
I’ve been busy creating and this year I have 3 delicious hamentashen recipes to share with you over the next few days. Dried Cherry and Pecan, Poppyseed and Salted Caramel Apple. My childhood Purim memories consist of store bought hamentashen. My mom bought them from Open Window Bakery in Toronto. They made two varieties, prune and poppyseed. My sisters and I vastly preferred the poppyseed filing. Home-made hamentashen didn’t enter my life until I got married. My husband’s aunts, Carol and Jenny, made their own hamentashen. Tender little triangles brimming with a prune-raisin filling and covered in honey and walnuts. I felt like I’d entered an alternate universe. But a universe I was thrilled to be indoctrinated into . All hamentashen should be topped with toasted nuts. Because, crunch!This hamentashen is my twist on their classic recipe. I halved the amount of prunes in the filling and replaced it with dried cherries. The original strawberry jam was swapped out for sour cherry preserves. And then I went really rogue with the dough! I used a butter dough. Carol and Jenny’s hamentashen dough is made with oil, so if you’re looking for a dairy free option, Aunt Carol’s Hamentashen Dough is a great option.This dough recipe comes from Uri Scheft’s new book, Breaking Breads. It is essentially an almond shortbread cookie dough which gets rolled quite thin.
I created this video to show you how to fill and shape the hamentashen.
Click here to print recipe for Dried Cherry and Pecan Hamentashen.
I have been making the same holiday challah for at least 15 years now. Everyone in the family loves it and looks forward to it. It’s possible I risk a mutiny if I dare to bake a different recipe. Yet, when I saw this challah in Uri Scheft’s book “Breaking Breads” I was enchanted. It looked like an everything bagel! I had to make it. Since Rosh Hashanah doesn’t start until Sunday night, I decided to do a test run for Friday night dinner at my son’s house.
Uri’s dough is much leaner than mine. Mine contains more eggs and oil. One recipe uses a kilogram (7 cups) of all-purpose flour. It’s enough to make 3 small challahs. A scale will be your best friend for dividing the dough. Each piece of dough gets further divided into 3 pieces and rolled out into 14 inch ropes.I like to start my braid in the center and work out toward both ends. Braid loosely. if the braids begin to stick to each other, give them a light dusting of flour. Wrap the braid into a circle, with a hole in the center. I found attaching the ends a bit challenging. I just sort of squeezed them together. Cover the challahs and let them double in size.
Now comes the fun part. Get all your toppings ready. I used sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, golden flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and nigella (black onion) seeds. I finished it off with a scatter of maldon sea salt flakes. Brush the braid with egg.Have fun with the toppings.Insert a small ovenproof bowl in the center so that the hole does not get filled in when dough bakes.Bake at 400°F for about 25 minutes. Let cool before serving.
Serve with honey in the middle for dipping.Or serve the honey on the side for drizzling. This challah dough is much denser than mine.A very different, but delicious challah experience. It really did remind me of an everything bagel. They are just so freaking adorable. We took a vote and decided to make both kinds of challah for our Rosh Hashanah lunch on Monday. I’ll let you know what everyone says!
Click here to print recipe for Everything-Holiday-Challah.
I read in the Globe and Mail Food section this week that God gave us cardboard so that we could describe the taste of matzoh. Not this matzoh treat!!
I made this for my sister Bonnie. I slightly adapted the recipe from the April 2015 issue of Bon Appetit. This matzoh crunch is kicked up with a pinch of hot pepper. I wanted to make it with Aleppo pepper because she puts that sh#t on everything! Sadly, if you have been following the news, you will know that Aleppo pepper is almost impossible to get now. The civil war in Syria has virtually destroyed the Aleppo pepper production. (Although the scarcity of Aleppo pepper is the least of their problems.) The citizens of Syria are in my thoughts and prayers.
Aleppo is a dried crushed red pepper. It is slightly fruity, with a whiff of smoke and only moderately spicy. I actually found a forgotten tin of it at the back of my cupboard. Not sure how long it’s been there but it has lost most of it’s potency.
I decided to make a few batches of this treat using a variety of peppers and compare the results.
Maras pepper (sometimes spelled Marash), from Turkey, is a good substitute for Aleppo. It is slightly smokier and hotter. I made a third batch with supermarket red pepper flakes and one final batch with chipotle powder, because that’s my jam!Brown sugar, butter and your chill pepper of choice get whisked together over moderate heat until hot and bubbly. Pour over matzoh and spread into an even layer. Bake toffee covered matzoh for about 10 minutes. Top hot matzoh with bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate chips and let sit until they melt. Spread chocolate until smooth.Top with toasted chopped pistachios, dried cherries, toasted coconut flakes, coarse salt and cocoa nibs.Chill and cut into squares.Or cut into wedges. Any way you slice it, it’s delicious.The batches I made with the Aleppo and Maras were not very spicy. The heat was barely noticeable even though I doubled the amount of pepper recomended in the Bon Appetit recipe (I used 1 teaspoon instead of 1/2 teaspoon). The red pepper flakes batch had obvious but not burning heat. It was my favourite. The chipotle was too smoky for my liking. This matzoh crunch is a flavour bomb in your mouth. Sweet (chocolate), salty (coarse salt and pistachios), sour (cherries), bitter (cocoa nibs), spicy and crunchy.
Click here to print recipe for Kicked Up Matzoh Crunch.
I recently discovered that Bed Bath and Beyond has their very own blog, called Above and Beyond. Who knew? Check out today’s issue to see yours truly featured as their guest blogger and read the full story! I was asked to write a guest post about the Jewish holiday Purim, which begins tomorrow (Saturday February 23) night.
I share with their readers how to make Hamentashen, the traditional triangular shaped cookie, filled with a dried fruit filling. My hamentashen recipe actually comes from my Aunt Carol. She shared their recipe and techniques with me. Her filling uses dried prunes, golden raisins, strawberry jam, lemon juice and almond extract.
If you are looking for something more modern to celebrate the holidays with check out my recipe for Cinnamon Bun Hamentashen from last year.