How Do You Hamantaschen? From Cookbooks to Rare Books, Celebrating Purim at the Free Library!

By Suzanna U. Mon, March 9, 2020

Like many holidays, Purim offers all those who celebrate Jewish traditions a chance to make and enjoy handmade goodies. The hallmark sweet treat for this occasion is the hamantaschen, a cookie-like triangular pastry with a sweet filling. As the name and its translation from German and Hebrew suggests, hamantaschen traditionally calls for a poppy seed filling. This filling originates from the medieval times in Germany, and is also the favorite version made by Philadelphia-based chef and cantor Mordechai Schram.

Let creativity be your guide: sweet fillings can also include prune preserves or apricot jam; the possibilities are almost endless. For this year's Purim, chef Mordechai is developing a sourdough take on the hamantaschen which will be featured in an upcoming Culinary Literacy Center public program. The dough is usually made sweet, such as the version below. Don't let the recipes stop with sweet pastries; savory versions of hamantaschen are also welcome at Purim celebrations. We would suggest trying your hand at a version with phyllo dough and goat cheese filling. 

Looking to learn more about how our collections relate to Purim and the delectable hamantaschen? Check out the Rare Book Department's very own Esther Megillat during tours at 11:00 a.m.,  every day except Sundays, at Parkway Central Library. Meanwhile, on the second floor, the Education, Philosophy, and Religion Department holds a very browseable selection of circulating texts on Judiasm, while just across the hall in the Science and Wellness Department you'll find cookbooks galore that explore baking and food preparation for Jewish holidays year-round. For more Purim-related resources, check out our past blog posts, which include this simple recipe for Hamantaschen to try at home:
 

Hamantaschen

Ingredients:

  • ½ pound butter (two sticks), melted
  • 8 teaspoons of sugar
  • 3¼ cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions:

  • Cream the butter and sugar.
  • Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the butter–sugar mixture. Mix well.
  • Add eggs, orange juice, and vanilla. Knead until dough forms a ball; if time, chill the dough.
  • Roll out the dough with a rolling pin.
  • Using a drinking glass as a cookie cutter, cut out circles.
  • Place a teaspoon of filling into each circle. Form a triangle by pulling the edges up and in and pinching the edges together.
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool cookies on racks.

Enjoy!

Hamantaschen are pastry pockets that can be filled with almost anything, such as this Almond Joy-inspired version.
Hamantaschen are pastry pockets that can be filled with almost anything, such as this Almond Joy-inspired version.

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