Monday, March 21, 2011
The reason is simple--they lived in New York City, where the bakery was just down the street, or a short walk away. Why should my Grandma Esther have baked hamantaschen or rugelach or even a challah or rye bread? She had plenty of other things to cook, and the bakery was doing all those time consuming, fiddly things.
As for my mom, well, she bought them when we were kids, though nowadays she does bake some of that stuff. But it's in an attempt to fit them into their low cholesterol, low salt, low FLAVOR diet, and they're not the real thing.
Mine are. These are made with a combination of butter and margarine, because I have never used shortening--just not in my cooking DNA. But you can make them half butter, half shortening if you like. Each variation in fat will cause them to spread differently as they bake.
You could use any sugar cookie dough that you like for these, and any filling of your choice. The kids love Nutella. I also use raspberry jam (they both like that) and apricot (SC is more for it than JR). Look for preserves--we like a brand called "Bonne Maman". Make sure that the jam is thick, or it will become runny in the oven.
The prune is a traditional filling and my personal favorite. It's homemade with a combination of prunes and raisins and those who try it usually find that they like it.
I've photographed the pretty taschen, but don't worry if yours do leak fillings. They'll still taste terrific!
(adapted from a Marcy Goldman recipe in her "Treasury of Jewish Baking"
1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 to 4 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
For the egg wash: 1 egg + 1 tbsp water
For the filling:
Jam--your favorite flavor
Prune filling--recipe follows
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
In a mixing bowl or stand mixer, cream the margarine, butter and sugar together.
Add the eggs and blend until smooth. If the mixture seems curdled, add a tbs of flour to bind it.
Stir in the orange juice.
Fold in 4 cups of flour, salt and baking powder. Mix to make a firm but soft dough.
Cover and let the dough rest for 10 minutes to give the flour time to absorb all the moisture
If the dough is too sticky to handle after ten minutes have passed, add extra flour up to 1/2 cup. The dough will be sticky when it’s ready, but you should be able to handle it without it getting stuck to your fingers.
You can shape the dough now or place it in a plastic bag in the fridge at this point for up to 2 days.
Divide the dough into 2 or 3 flattened discs and work with one portion at a time.
Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured board to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Use a 2-3-inch glass, cookie or biscuit cutter and cut as many rounds as you can.
In a small bowl mix 1 egg & 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg glaze.
Place the rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat mat.
Brush the rounds with the wash, then fill each with a generous 1/2 teaspoonful of your desired filling.
Fold 3 sides of each circle together, creating triangles.Leave a little space in the center so you can see the filling.
DON'T PINCH! Fold up the left side, then the bottom and then the right so that they overlap. This keeps them from leaking, something that I have learned the hard way :D
Brush the cookies with additional egg wash. If desired, sprinkle with regular or coarse sugar.
Bake in the center of the preheated oven until golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets.
I have cut the original recipe in half, which is plenty to fill a batch of hamantaschen.
This is also delicious as a filling for a rolled up or braided bread!
1 cup dried pitted prunes
1/2 cup raisins
3/8 cup orange juice
1/6 cup lemon juice
1/6 cup sugar
Combine everything in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then simmer for 5-10 minutes until the fruit is plump and soft. Let it cool for 5 minutes.
Remove the fruit to a food processor and puree, adding liquid from the pan as needed.
This keeps well in the fridge for a week, or can be frozen.