Tuesday, March 2, 2010
I decided to bake hamentaschen, I love this cookie. I heard about a hamentaschen bakeoff, and they really needed entrants. My friend Marla had made a great batch of them in years past, and I decided to try that recipe. They tasted just like a bakery's hamentaschen!
Entering the contest was a big step. The last time I made hamentaschen, they didn't stay closed. But I've been part of a wonderful group that is baking recipes from "Healthy Breads in 5 Minutes a Day." They have been really encouraging, and gave me tips for sealing dough. And my friend, Marla, was very encouraging.
Marla is a great cook. She can cook a huge feast, in a kitchen the size of a postage stamp! When Marla buys a cookbook, I buy that one also. If she says a recipe is good, you better believe it! We both love cooking from "1000 Jewish Recipes," by Faye Levy. Faye Levy was trained as a chef in France, and has written over 20 cookbooks. The contest entrant recipe is from that book--"Eastern European Cookie Dough."
To ease my nervousness about entering a hamentaschen contest, I decided to make a "backup recipe." I made Working Mom's Hamentashen This recipe uses yellow cake mix as a base, and is super simple to handle.
Here is the dough, all rolled out. I used a can from chunk pineapple as a 3" cookie cutter. It worked really well.:
I used date spread as the filling. Here are the hamentaschen, after removing them from the oven:
I gave my hubby a few of these to take to work. He emailed me saying that his boss said " to tell you that "you make a mean hamantashan!" Which means he really liked it!"
Okay, now that my "backup" recipe is done, I know I have an entry for the party's bakeoff contest. They tasted pretty good, just not as good as scratch. But no matter what, I have an entry.
So I can relax a bit and make Faye Levy's recipe This recipe is a bit more involved. It's a basic sugar cookie recipe that is handled like pie dough--put in fridge to chill, rolled out, and cut into shapes. I'm not well versed in rolling out dough very much, so this was a challenge.
I had some panic when I mixed the recipe in my food processor. I think I overmixed the recipe, and the butter got too soft! I didn't know whether to dump this recipe and start over, or try to save this batch. I put the dough in plastic wrap in the fridge while I emailed my baking group members and called Marla.
It turned out that putting the dough in the fridge was the right thing to do. My baking group members and Marla gave me some tips. Marla suggested that next time I take the margarine out of the fridge at the very last second, before mixing the dough. She said that when making pie crust or recipes like this, the fridge is your best friend.
I separated the dough into 4 parts, and worked on only one part of the dough at a time. I kept the rest in the fridge. I rolled out that portion of dough and cut the cookie rounds out.
I found a helpful way of shaping the cookie on my bench knife to keep it from sticking to the pastry mat while I worked with it.
To shape the cookie, I cut out a 3" round. Then I pinched the top together to make a cone. Finally, I pulled the bottom part up and pinched the corners. I ended up with a 3-cornered cookie.
Last year, the cookies didn't stay closed. My "baking advisors" suggested that I brush water or egg on the outside edge to help keep the seal. It worked really well. Thanks!
Here are the cookies, close up, after they came out of the oven.
I was very happy to win second place in the hamentaschen bakeoff! Here is the fun trophy I got:
My hubby now jokes with me that I am his "trophy wife." When I said I wondered about the first place recipe, he said that I have a whole year to practice for the next contest!
Thanks so much to everyone who encouraged me to go beyond my baking fears of making hamentaschen!