Today is Purim, one of my favorite holidays. Why do I love it? Because it’s one of few holidays celebrating a woman’s agency, it requires public service and feeding the poor, and it features a carnival where folks are encouraged to crossdress and make noise to drown out the name of the bad guy. The story of Purim is written in the Book of Esther, or the Megillah, which is read twice during the festivities. A very detailed narrative, the story is long and somewhat convoluted – hence the slang term of “the whole Megillah”, meaning a tedious or overly detailed account of something. I am particulary fond of Yiddishisms that have made their way into standard American English, and this is one of my favorites.
Also great about Purim is my favorite Jewish baked good, the hamantaschen. One of the mitzvahs of the holiday is to feed your friends with treats, so I’m providing a tasty and fairly easy recipe. I like poppyseed filling, or mohn, without raisins. Gluten free dough variation and filling recipe at the bottom.
•2/3 cup butter
•1/2 cup sugar
•1/4 cup no pulp orange juice
•1 cup white flour
•1 cup wheat flour (DO NOT substitute white flour! The wheat flour is necessary to achieve the right texture!)
•2 tsp. baking powder
•1 tsp. cinnamon
•Filling of your choice
Blend butter and sugar thoroughly. Add the egg and blend thoroughly. Add OJ and blend thoroughly. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, alternating white and wheat, blending thoroughly between each. Add the baking powder and cinnamon with the last half cup of flour. Refrigerate batter overnight or at least a few hours. Roll as thin as you can without getting holes in the batter (roll it between two sheets of wax paper lightly dusted with flour for best results). Cut out 3 or 4 inch circles.
Put a dollop of filling in the middle of each circle. Fold up the sides to make a triangle, folding the last corner under the starting point, so that each side has corner that folds over and a corner that folds under. Folding in this “pinwheel” style will reduce the likelihood that the last side will fall open while cooking, spilling out the filling. It also tends to make a better triangle shape.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, until golden brown but before the filling boils over!
The number of cookies this recipe makes depends on the size of your cutting tool and the thickness you roll.
Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free Variation
Substitute 2 cups of buckwheat flour and 1/2 cup of milled flax seed for the white and wheat flour. Reduce the baking powder to 1 tsp. The resulting hamantaschen will have an unusual pumpernickel color, but they taste great! Make sure the buckwheat flour you use is wheat-free/gluten-free! Sometimes buckwheat flour is mixed with white or wheat flour. Hodgson Mill buckwheat and flax are gluten-free and have reliable kosher certification.
POPPY SEED FILLING:
1 c. poppy seed
1/2 c. water or milk
1/4 c. honey
2 tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 lg. egg, slightly beaten
Combine first 5 ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over moderate heat until thick, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes. Add lemon juice. Add a little of the hot mixture to the beaten egg and then stir into the remaining poppy seed mixture. Cool thoroughly before using.
Makes sufficient filling for 2 1/2 dozen Hamantaschen.