These vegan poppy-seed hamantaschen feature a fluffy soft yeasted dough, a sweet sugar glaze, and plenty of delicious homemade filling. Perfect for Purim!
Sometimes, the original really is the best.
I’m all for hamantaschen mash-ups – see my Eccles cake hamantaschen, fortune cookie hamantaschen, or even savoury pizza hamantaschen if you need proof – but there are times when all you want is a good, old-fashioned, poppy-seed filled, yeasty hamantaschen bun. With a glossy sweet glaze, obviously.
When I was little, this was the only kind of hamantaschen available at Purim. That’s not strictly true, actually. Very occasionally the local Jewish bakeries would also make sweet cheese hamantaschen – a sort of triangular sticky bun filled with a glorious rich cheesecake mixture. OMG.
Mostly, though, it was poppy seed and sweet, rich yeast-risen dough all the way. I think I was a teenager before I even saw a ‘cookie’ hamantasch. They were considered inferior American imports.
Like so many (inferior) American imports though, they have caught on. They’re much easier to make at home for one thing. And they seem to be available with all manner of fillings – strawberry, chocolate, apricot etc – and so have a wide appeal.
Do It Yourself
We don’t have a kosher bakery here in Cambridge, so if we want fresh and delicious hamantaschen we have to make our own. This year, I decided to go all out and recreate the Classic British Hamantaschen of my youth. And make them vegan, just for good measure.
Poppy Seed Origins
A sweet poppy-seed paste is the classic filling for hamantaschen, whether it’s inside a yeast dough or a cookie-style one. It’s likely in fact that the name ‘hamantaschen’ is derived from the Yiddish/German mohn-taschen meaning ‘poppy seed pockets’ – an excellent description of these three-cornered, stuffed confections.
Over time, the name evolved and they became associated with Haman – the arch-villain of the Purim story. The triangular shape is said to evoke his hat, or possibly his pointy ears – in Israel hamantaschen are called oznei haman meaning ‘Haman’s ears’.
The poppy-seed filling here was inspired by several recipes, including those in Leah Koenig’s Jewish Cookbook and Uri Scheft’s Breaking Breads – both terrific books. Mine uses margarine to keep it vegan (and parve) and also cuts the sugar quite significantly. I don’t think the end product suffers at all as a result.
Knead the dough
The dough is a variation on my standard babka dough, veganised. I realised that I haven’t actually posted a recipe for a vegan babka so I’ll be addressing this shortcoming soon! Watch this space.
Yeast-dough hamantaschen aren’t very much more tricky to make than ‘cookie’ hamantaschen, especially if you have a stand mixer to do the kneading for you. The only real difference is that you need to be a bit more organised with your timing, because the dough needs to rest and rise.
I like to make my dough in the evening, allow it rise in the fridge overnight, and then shape and bake in the morning. However, you can make the hamantaschen from start to finish on one day if you plan ahead for the rising etc.
Great British Hamantaschen
These Great British Hamantaschen really took me back! They are so delicious – fluffy soft dough, sticky sweet glaze, and plenty of delicious poppy-seed filling. Even if you didn’t eat them as a child, give them a try! You can’t beat the original and best.
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Classic Poppy-Seed Hamantaschen Buns
For the poppy seed filling
- 80 g poppy seeds (approx. ½ cup)
- 100 ml plant-based milk - I used oat (scant ½ cup)
- 2½ tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp vegan margarine
- 2 tsp apricot jam
- 1 plain biscuit (I used a petit beurre) pulverized to crumbs
For the dough
- 200 ml plant-based milk - I used oat (scant 1 cup)
- 2 tsp dry active yeast
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 400 g plain (all purpose) flour (approx. 3⅔ cups)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 6 tbsp vegetable oil
For the glaze
- 50 g icing (powdered) sugar (½ cup)
- 2-3 tsp water or plant-based milk
To make the poppy seed filling
- Whizz the poppy seeds in a food processor/mini-chopper/spice grinder until powdery. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, heat the plant-based milk and the sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add the poppy seeds and slowly bring to the boil, stirring continuously. Reduce the heat and allow to bubble for about a minute, stirring al the time to prevent sticking/burning.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the margarine, the apricot jam and the biscuit crumbs. Transfer to a bowl, cover and allow to cool completely. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
To make the dough
- Microwave the plant-based milk for about 1½ minutes until 'hand hot'. Pour half of it into a small bowl and whisk in the dry active yeast and 1 tbsp sugar. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour and 2 tbsp sugar.
- Once the yeast mixture has started to foam (2-3 minutes), add it to the flour together with the remaining milk and the oil. Fit the dough hook to the mixer and set the motor running on a low speed.
- Let the mixer run for 8-10 minutes, stopping the motor to scrape down the bowl as needed. The dough is ready when it forms a smooth, soft, glossy ball that leaves the sides of the bowl clean.
- Remove the dough from the mixer and knead by hand for 1-2 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Leave to rise until doubled in size. This will take 1-2 hours in a warm place, or overnight in the refrigerator.
To fill and shape the hamantaschen buns
- Line 2 baking sheets with non-stick silicon liners or baking parchment.
- Remove the dough from the bowl, gently squash out the air, and gently knead for a minute or two. Cut the dough into 2 parts.
- Roll the first piece of dough out to a thickness of about 4mm (about ⅛ inch) - the dough will shrink back as you roll it so be patient and keep moving/turning as you roll. Use a 12cm (5 inch) round cutter to cut circles from the dough. Set aside the offcuts to re-roll.
- Brush the edges of the dough circles with water. Place a generous tsp of filling in the centre of each circle.
- Fold the dough over the filling to create a triangle. (See the recipe for Eccles cake hamantaschen if you're unsure how to do this.) Pinch the edges of dough together to seal, and place each hamantaschen seam-side down on a lined baking tray. Leave room between them for rising.
- Allow the hamantaschen to rest/rise for about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Brush the hamantaschen buns lightly with plant-based milk (optional). Bake at 180°C (350°F) for 15-18 minutes until risen and golden brown.
- While the hamantaschen buns are baking, make the glaze. Mix the icing sugar with 2 tsp of water or plant-based milk. The glaze should have a thick but brushable consistency so add a drop more liquid if necessary to acheive the right thickness.
- Remove the buns from the oven and immediately brush them with the glaze. Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
- Eat and enjoy! Happy Purim!
These poppy seed hamantaschen are best eaten within 24 hours of baking but this doesn’t seem to be a problem as they are so delicious!