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.
- 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
- In a small bowl, stir together the warm milk, the yeast and the pinch of sugar. Set aside to proof.
- Cream together the butter and sugar.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mix together (it will be lumpy), then add the salt and lemon rind.
- Stir in half the flour, then the milk/yeast mixture, then the rest of the flour. Mix well.
- Refrigerate the dough for one hour or overnight.
- 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
- Wipe out your coffee grinder, grind about a tablespoon of poppy seeds, then throw that away.
- 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.
- Let it cool, then stir in the apple and jam.