Purim is not a well-known Jewish holiday. It doesn’t have the religious or historical significance of some other Jewish holidays, nor does it get the hype of Hannukah which only gets lucky to fall around Christmas each year. Purim is a low-profile holiday, often forgotten among us quasi-Jews. But I never forget it. Why? Because Purim is when I got to make Hamantashen with my Bubby every year.
Bubby is the Yiddish word for Grandmother, and that’s what we called her. My Bubby was an amazing cook – the kind of cook that never used recipes or even measurements. She was definitely more of a cook than a baker, but Hamantashen was one thing she baked to perfection. I have vivid memories of sitting on her kitchen counter while she rolled out the thick dough so I could use the rim of a glass to cut circles out of it. Then, we would drop tiny dollops of fruit filling (cherry was always my favorite) in the center of the dough circles, and carefully pinch the edges together to form a triangle. The dough would puff up and turn a golden brown in the oven, and I could barely wait for them to cool before digging in.
Hamantashen are basically easy to make, but there are always fails when you’re trying to make the triangles look perfect. Don’t get discouraged. You can really only use a tiny bit of filling if you don’t want it to explode all over the cookie. We have always used pie filling instead of jam to fill these Hamantashen. And I literally only use one cherry per cookie. Anything more will make the center explode – trust me on this one. You can use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to make the circles, or use a martini glass like I do. A regular pint glass will be too small. And you can use any type of filling you want – popular ones are apricot, prune (my Pop-pop’s favorite) or even raspberry jam. Of course, if you really want to sell your kids on Hamantashen, place a few chocolate chips (no more than 3) in the center and watch them fall in love.
Making Hamantashen with your kids or anybody you love is a really fun experience that everyone should try at least once. Even some years when I’m really late in remembering it’s Purim (like this year), I always make the time to do it. I do it for my Bubby, and I do it for my mom, and for my daughter. Hopefully one day my daughter will find herself rolling out the dough while her kids cut circles and pinch them into triangles, and remember all the women who came before her as lovingly as I do. Enjoy!
- 6 cups of flour
- 1 cup of sugar
- 3/4 cups of vegetable oil
- 3/4 cups of milk
- 4 eggs + 1 egg yolk for brushing
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 can of cherry pie filling
In a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together. Add milk, oil and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the mixer, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Form the dough into a disc and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out the dough on a floured surface until 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out circles using a 3-inch biscuit cutter or martini glass. Dip your fingers in water and dampen the edges of each circle. Place 1-2 cherries in the center of each circle. Pinch the edges of the dough together in 3 points to make the shape of a triangle. Be sure that the edges are sealed.
Brush the dough with one beaten egg yolk. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack.