Yeasted Hamantaschen With Poppy Seed Filling. Photo by Armando Rafael.
Svetlana Geyman’s childhood in Kyiv in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s was quietly laced with Jewish traditions. Her grandfather would pray secretly at the one temple in the city and holidays were celebrated privately at home. For Purim, her grandmother Perel would bake poppy seed hamantaschen with a special yeasted dough. Some of the cookies were enjoyed in their home with tea, while others were given out discreetly to neighbors, relatives, and other Jewish friends.
During the Soviet era, many of the family’s Jewish customs disappeared, including the tradition of making these hamantaschen. Decades later, Svetlana recreated her grandmother’s hamantaschen in Brooklyn, which she now calls home.
6 – 7 cups all purpose flour, divided, plus more for rolling out
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup plus ½ teaspoon sunflower oil or any neutral
For the filling:
3 cups dried poppy seeds
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest
For egg wash:
3 egg yolks
½ teaspoon honey
Make the dough: Place the yeast, sugar, vanilla extract (if using), and water into a large mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients well with a wooden spoon. Add 2 tablespoons of flour and stir until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and set the bowl aside for 10 minutes or until the mixture is foamy.
Add the salt and 2 more tablespoons of flour into the yeast, sugar, flour and water mixture. . Mix well until combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside for 30 minutes in a warm place to rise by about 25%.
Add the sunflower oil and gradually add about 5 cups of flour into the mixture. Continue stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon until it forms into a dough. Knead the dough by hand and add more flour (1 tablespoon at a time) until the dough stops sticking to your hands. if needed. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll it into a large ball. Rub about ½ teaspoon of oil all over the dough and transfer the dough into a clean and large mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Set the dough aside in a warm place for one hour or until it doubles in size.
Meanwhile, make the filling: Place the poppyseeds into a heatproof bowl and cover with enough boiling water to completely submerge the poppy seeds. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and set it aside for 1 hour.
Drain the poppy seeds through a cheesecloth lined colander or a sieve. Transfer the wet poppy seeds into a spice grinder or food processor. Add the sugar and lemon zest and grind the mixture well until it is finely processed into a paste. Transfer the filing into a bowl.
Once the dough has proofed, transfer it onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough out into a ¼ inch thick circle.
Use a 3 inch cookie cutter or glass cup to cut 3 inch circles into the dough. Pull the dough scraps off of the dough and set aside. Place about ½ tablespoon of the filling into the center of each circle of dough. Brush the edges of the circles with a bit of water. Roll up 3 edges of the circle to form a triangular shape and pinch the edges together to seal the cookies. Roll the dough scraps into a ball of dough, roll it out to a 1/4 inch thick circle and repeat to make more cookies. Transfer the cookies onto a few parchment lined baking sheets, leaving about 1½ inches between each cookie. Gently cover with a towel and let the cookies rise for about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the egg yolks into a small bowl and whisk well with the honey. Brush the tops of the cookies with egg wash.
Transfer the cookies into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cookies are baked and golden brown.
Let the cookies cool until they are at room temperature and serve.