Poppy Seed Filling for Hamantaschen (mohn)

Hamantaschen sitting on my Grandmother’s Civil War era plate.

I saw the can of poppy seed filling in the baking aisle last week, and wondered, “how horrible must that be?” Yes, I am a snob. I won’t go near a jar of gefilte fish either, for I was blessed to have a mother who made all of the Jewish delicacies from scratch. So every year she would send someone down to Devon Avenue, to the Jewish neighborhood in Chicago, to get a bag of ground poppy seeds for the Purim hamantaschen. She cooked up this magical concoction with honey, raspberry jam, ground almonds… once a year we got to taste this creation. If you enjoy cooking, then you know that the act of creating the dish is as good as enjoying the taste. What a pleasure to grate in the fresh lemon zest (I’ve been enjoying the lingering aroma on my fingers), and to stir in the dollop of jam, and watch as the pats of butter melt and the mixture thickens. Of course the best part will be rolling out the hamantaschen with the kids later today, and watching their pleasure as they taste one hot from the oven.

My mom would make about as many hamantaschen as she could stand, and then would roll out the rest of the filling into an elegant coffee cake, with tender layers of pastry and thin layers of filling, this was her little secret: the coffee cake is better than the hamantaschen.

Yeast Dough


  • 1 c. milk, warmed
  • 1 Tbs. yeast
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 c. flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon rind


  1. In a small bowl, stir together the warm milk, the yeast and the pinch of sugar. Set aside to proof.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, mix together (it will be lumpy), then add the salt and lemon rind.
  4. Stir in half the flour, then the milk/yeast mixture, then the rest of the flour. Mix well.
  5. Refrigerate the dough for one hour or overnight.
  6. On a liberally floured board, roll out dough to about 1/8˝ thickness. Cut into approx. 2½” circles. Fill with poppy seed filling (next page) or jam, form and bake at 350° for 12–15 minutes.


Poppy Seed Filling (Mohn)


  • 1 c. poppy seed (plus a little extra to clean out your coffee grinder)
  • 1 c. milk
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • ½ c. chopped almonds
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
  • ¼ c. golden raisins
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • 1 tart apple, peeled and grated
  • ¼ c. raspberry jam


  1. Wipe out your coffee grinder, grind about a tablespoon of poppy seeds, then throw that away.
  2. Grind the cup of poppy seeds, and put them in a saucepan with all of the ingredients except for the apple and jam. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly.
  3. Let it cool, then stir in the apple and jam.

This coffee cake baked up a little flat (very sticky dough today). I made the side on the left with the swirls turned to face in to each other; the side on the right with them all turned the same direction. It is sitting on my mother’s monogrammed cake plate.

This one baked the way I like it, and held its shape beautifully. The dough had a little more flour and wasn’t so sticky to work with.

Here’s a detail showing the pretty layers.

Roll out the dough, cut into circles, put on a dollop of filling, then pinch up and around the filling to form a triangular shape.

Roll out a large rectangle of dough and spread on a thin layer of filling, being careful not to tear the dough, then roll it all up.

Form the roll into a U-shape and cut slices all the way through.

Slip a knife under each section, gently lift it up and twist it 90 degrees.



3 thoughts on “Poppy Seed Filling for Hamantaschen (mohn)

  1. Yum! If I want to make the filling without almonds, you you think I should increase the amount of poppyseeds or just leave them out (with or without other changes)?

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