Group Hamentashen Baking; The more the doughier
Astute readers may recall last year's posts about baking 300 hamentashen for the Workmen's Circle Gragger/Noisemaker! Annual Radical Purim Party. (This year's Gragger is Saturday March 10 at Spontaneous Celebrations- come!)
Baking hamentashen, much like making dumplings or blintzes, fully embodies the old adage "many hands make light work."
Luckily for you, we're at it again this year (come join us) and I'd like to share our recipe and tips for baking dozens of hamentashen with a crowd.
1) Pre-make some, or all, of the dough. It needs at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator to firm up before being rolled. I always make the dough in double batches. Well-wrapped in plastic wrap, it will freeze well. Leave the dough in the refrigerator until about ten minutes before you need to roll it out.
2) Set up stations. Also known as a great lesson in identifying our strengths and doing what we're good at. Last year, we had a few people manning (person-ing?) the ovens, while others made dough in the kitchen. Out in the dining rooms, folks chose to roll, stamp, or pinch and fill. Floured wine bottles make great rolling pins.
3) Be prepared. We had the whole set-up laid out before bakers came. That way, we were able to maximize the amount of time spent making cookies and everyone had something to keep them busy.
4) Provide snacks. I am physically incapable of having guests to my home without offering some form of refreshment. Snacks will help people keep their energy up. And, it's a nice way to bribe additional helpers to come over. Remind people to wash hands well before and after noshing.
5) Make it fun. (Well, some of us find the mere fact of baking dozens of cookies better than an amusement park ride.) Set up a challenge, take pictures and post them online as you go, or live blog/live Tweet. Baking hamentashen is quite the accomplishment; give bakers full license to brag.
Last year, we made 300 cookies following these tips. This year the goal is 2 households baking at the same time and 400 hamentashen.
What are you baking hamentashen for this year? What's your favorite filling?
The tricks to successful hamentashen are dough that has been well-chilled, avoiding over-filling the cookies, and pinching the corners together firmly. The dough doubles easily. For making more than 2 batches worth, make additional double batches of dough as needed.
Yield: 20-24 cookies
3 eggs 1 c. sugar
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt
3 tsp. baking powder
4 - 4 1/2 c. flour
Fillings of your choice; jam, chocolate chips, prune filling, poppy seed filling
1)Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease 2 baking sheets.
2) With an electric mixer or by hand, beat eggs and sugar until well-combined and creamy looking.
3) Add oil, orange juice, vanilla, salt, and baking powder and mix thoroughly.
4) With a wooden spoon, add flour, a little bit at a time and mix thoroughly until combined. The dough should stay together in a ball but not be so dry that it crumbles.
5) Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes or as long as overnight.
6) Flour a cutting board or a table covered in a disposable table cloth. Roll dough to thickness of 1/4 inch.
7) Use a standard drinking glass to cut out circles and place circles on baking sheets.
8) Fill each circle with 1 teaspoon of filling.
9) Starting at the point of the circle furthest from you, gather dough in to form a pint and pinch well. Then, fold up the flap of dough closet to you which will form the 2 other corners- pinch each of those corners together well.
10) Bake at 350 degrees until slightly golden brown. Check bottoms to make sure that they are golden brown, but not burnt.
11) Remove cookies to plates or cooling rack and let cool thoroughly. Stored in an air-tight container, hamentashen will stay fresh for several days after baking.