Food blogger Bobbie Lewis has perfected a hand-me-down hamantaschen recipe.
By Barbara (Bobbie) Lewis
These fruit, nut or poppy-filled cookies are popular on the Jewish festival of Purim, which commemorates the events told in the Book of Esther. This year, Purim falls on March 21.
The cookie’s three-cornered shape is supposed to represent Haman’s hat, though the word means “Haman’s pockets” in Yiddish, and in Hebrew, they’re called “oznei Haman” — Haman’s ears!
My mother wasn’t much of a cook, but she baked these hamentaschen every year. She got the recipe from our neighbor in Northeast Philadelphia, Ida Silver.
In 2007, I read a Hadassah magazine article by Judy Davis called “My Mother’s Hamentaschen” and I realized Judy Davis was the married name of Ida Silver’s oldest child, a few years older than me. But the recipe in the magazine was not my mother’s recipe!
I hadn’t seen Judy in at least 40 years but I tracked her down – she worked at the University of Massachusetts – and emailed her. In her response she admitted the recipe was not her mother’s, which she either never had or lost.
“I must have had a copy at some time, though I have no memory of it,” she wrote. “I love the idea of your mother having used her recipe (it means my mother must have shared some of them with her), and I love that it is being handed down to the next generation.”
Indeed it is! My children always enjoyed my hamentaschen – at some point, each of them served as my baking assistant. Now they are making the same recipe. And in all humility, I say that I know only one friend who has a recipe for hamentaschen as good as these. The cookie is tender, and the honey and lemon give it a nice flavor.
I usually double the recipe, though now that the children are out of the house and we are retired (with no office colleagues to share goodies with), I am going back to making a single batch. I don’t use a board to roll out the dough. I do what my mother did: cover the kitchen table with an old sheet and work some flour into it and use that as my workspace.
Use Solo brand pie filling or similar; regular pie filling is too runny and will make the hamentaschen soggy.
2½ cups flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup vegetable shortening
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 can Solo fruit, nut or poppy pastry filling
Sift dry ingredients together. Cream shortening and sugar. Add honey and lemon juice and mix well. Add part of flour, then eggs, then rest of flour. Dough should be soft enough to form a ball but not sticky
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll out on a floured board, cut out rounds using a cookie cutter or glass (dip edge into flour to prevent sticking). Place a half-teaspoon of filling in the center of each piece, then pinch into a three-cornered shape. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.
Makes 2-3 dozen cookies
For more recipes from Bobbie, visit her blog, Bobbie’s Best Recipes.