Lemon is often paired with poppy, but not necessarily in the traditional poppy hamantaschen filling. Once you try it, though, it’s a delicious change from the ordinary that is hard to resist. Most hamantaschen today are made from cookie dough–always a great, crispy option, but for softer, gentler taste and texture, a sweet yeast dough is a nice old-fashioned way to go. This version has some whole wheat flour just to give it a little dimension and keep it a little healthier. Remember that with yeast dough, you have to allow for time for the dough to rise—in this case, about 90 minutes in total. These hamantaschen keep in an airtight container at room temperature for about one day.
- 1 package active dry yeast (2½ teaspoons)
- ¼ cup warm water (see Kitchen Tips)
- 1¾ cups (260 grams) plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (160 grams) white whole-wheat flour
- ¼ cup (70 grams) brown sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup vanilla almond milk
- 2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated, non-dairy margarine
- 3 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten, for egg wash
- 1 cup poppy seeds
- 1 cup white grape juice or apple juice
- ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
- ½ cup date syrup
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch
- Zest and juice of 2 small lemons
- Make the dough: Combine the yeast and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix very gently. Let stand for 10 minutes, or until the yeast foams and bubbles a bit.
- Mix together the flours, brown sugar, and salt and add half of the mixture to the yeast and water. Mix gently until almost combined. Add the almond milk and mix again to combine.
- Add the remaining flour and mix again. Add the margarine and 3 eggs and mix until completely combined. Switch the stand mixer’s attachment to the dough hook and knead for 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft and pliable. Remove the bowl of the mixer and cover with a moist kitchen towel, but don’t let it touch the dough. Set in a warm, draft-free place (about 75° to 80°F) and allow to rise for 1 hour. Transfer to a work surface and knead gently by hand to deflate the dough, kneading for 4 to 5 minutes, until soft and smooth. Return the dough to the bowl, cover again, and let stand for 30 to 35 minutes.
- Make the filling: Combine the poppy seeds, juice, confectioners’ sugar, date syrup, cornstarch or potato starch, and lemon zest and juice in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high until the mixture begins to thicken. Lower the heat, stir well, and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. (This can be made up to 2 days in advance, if you wish.)
- When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. To make the hamantaschen: sprinkle the extra flour over a work surface and on a rolling pin. Roll the dough to a thickness of ½ inch, turning it over and rubbing the flour onto each side so it won’t stick. Using a 4-inch biscuit cutter, cut the dough into discs. Continue to cut discs of dough until you have used it all, including the scraps. As you work, combine your scraps; you can re-knead and re-roll the scraps or simply pat them into circles.
- Brush 1 disc of dough from edge to edge with a little of the lightly beaten egg yolk and place 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center. Then, grasping the edge closest to you between your thumb and forefinger (at the 6 o’clock position, as if the dough were a clock), fold it almost to the center of the filling to form a semicircular flap. Grasp the edge of the disc at the 2 o’clock position and fold that piece almost to the center, and then do the same with the edge at the 10 o’clock position. You will form a triangular pastry. Pinch the corners completely closed. Repeat with the remaining discs.
- Place 8 or 9 pastries on the prepared baking sheets, making sure to leave at least 2 inches between them, since they will spread as they cook. Brush each pastry with egg wash. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they take on a very pale golden color. (If they get darker than that they will still taste good, but not quite as good.) Repeat with the remaining pastries, working in batches as necessary.
- Yeast is a little living creature, and it needs special handling. You need warm water to activate it and get it started eating and bubbling, but if the water is too warm (more than 110°F), you’ll kill it and it simply won’t work at all.
- You can make the filling up to 2 days in advance.