How Did Bubbe Bake It?
Recreating Her Orange-Scented Hamantaschen Dough
This hamantaschen recipe is a long time in the making. I first wrote about these three-sided cookies or hamantaschen in a very early blog post in March of 2010. As a child, I remember eating the baked scraps of orange-scented cookie dough voraciously with all three of my brothers. We didn’t even care about the fillings. But my grandmother’s “recipe” is scrawled on the back of a piece of paper with imprecise measurements. So I have been experimenting on and off trying to replicate that memory flavor. During one round of testing, I had orange olive oil in the pantry and decided to try it. My grandmother always made these cookies with vegetable oil so why not olive oil?
And sure enough, it worked. But orange scented olive oil is not a prerequisite. Regular olive oil enhanced by orange zest works quite nicely. In fact, I use some zest for an extra hit of citrusy aroma even with the orange olive oil. This dough has a tendency to be very soft – a little refrigeration helps with that as well as some flour on your work surface.
These three-sided cookies are traditionally eaten for the Jewish holiday Purim where we remember the story of wicked Haman and the hero Queen Esther who saved the day for the Jewish people. Many stories have been woven to explain the name of these cookies — tasch means pocket so these are Haman’s pockets or the triangular shape represents his hat. In any case there is a pocket that is created for the fillings – almost anything will work from traditional fillings like poppy seed or prune or unexpected fillings like Nutella, chocolate ganache, or any jam of your choice. One recipe I discovered places cookie dough in for the filling so you end up with a cookie in a cookie. Favorites in our house are jams of any kind.
Here is a short video showing how the circular pieces of dough are cinched up to make the triangles:
Be sure to visit my Purim Pinterest board with lots of creative ideas for hamantaschen and other Purim goodies to fill your Mishloach Manot. Mishloach Manot are the traditional baskets of goodies that people leave for friends and family during this festive spring holiday.
Have you eaten or baked hamantaschen before? What type of dough do you use and what are your favorite fillings?
- 2½ cups of all purpose flour
- ½ tablespoon of cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup sugar
- zest of ½ an orange or whole orange (1/2 if using orange olive oil, whole if using regular olive oil)
- 1 egg
- ⅓ cup orange or regular olive oil
- ¼ cup orange juice (can use the juice from the zested orange)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon milk or cream
- Your choice - use jams you have in the house or nutella or nutella mixed with tahini - so many great options
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
- In another medium sized bowl, add the sugar and orange zest and use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar until it is mixed throughout. Then add one egg, olive oil, orange juice, and vanilla. Whisk these wet ingredients (and sugar) until thoroughly combined.
- Then incorporate the flour into the wet mixture to form a dough. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to combine and get your hands in there if need be. But it will come together easily. It may be a bit wet - that's ok. Refrigerate it for a half hour (or more) and then be sure to roll it out on a floured surface. It will roll out nicely. If it seems to be falling apart when rolling, add a bit more flour.
- While the dough is chilling and resting, prepare your cookie sheet with parchment or a Silpat type of liner. Also prepare your fillings and your egg wash. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Take out ½ the dough at a time from the refrigerator and roll it out on a floured work surface to about ⅛ inch thick - really as thin as you can roll it without it falling apart. It doesn't have to be perfectly shaped as you roll it, just fairly even in thickness.
- Use a 3" or 2.5" round cookie cutter to cut out as many circles as you can and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Then using a pastry brush, brush each circle with egg wash and then place a scant teaspoon of filling in the center. Then using your hands, cinch up the dough to form a triangle (see the video above) but once you cinch one side, the rest becomes easy but be sure to close it firmly so it remains closed as it cooks.
- After your have filled and formed each one, brush each cookie with egg wash and if desired, you can sprinkle with a bit of sugar - totally optional to your taste.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes. Remove and place on a cooling rack. Enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea or deliver to your friends in a festive Mishloach Manot basket.