As you might expect, business was VERY swift that day, and I was double-timing it around the kitchen. As the only pastry guy on duty that day, I had to make sure the front was stocked. Pastries, pies, cakes, pudding- whatever I could whip up with what was available that the customers would like.
With that in mind, when I started on the pastry bench at Crema a month or so back, my first thought was, “These guys need a little East Coast in here”- and to me, that means Jewish classics.
One of my hobbies recently has been reading up on the Yiddish language– the language of the Jewish Diaspora since at least the Middle Ages. It combines Biblical Hebrew, German, Slavic, and a number of other languages in its melange of dialects. As such, when I write up the display tags for my pastries, sometimes I add in Yiddish phrases and jokes, like:
“Oy, geshmakht!” (Wow, great taste!)
“Nu? What do you want for $3?” (Shut up, it’s funny.)
As the crowds are winding down and I’m starting preparations for the next day, Zach- one of the baristas- comes back and says, “Someone wants to talk to you about your hamantaschen, but he’s pronouncing it ‘geshmahkt’ or something? I don’t get it.”
I can’t help but chuckle- “Nu? One of the customers speaks Yiddish!” I am greeted by a friendly older gentleman that we’ll call Leroy. Leroy was new to Portland and was in our neck of the woods for the Portland Theater Festival. He pointed to the tag on my hamantaschen and asked if I was fluent in Yiddish.
I confessed that I wasn’t, but I was picking up a few phrases here and there through my reading. He smiled and told me that he had wanted to learn Yiddish for a long time as it was his parent’s primary language. He then asked if I was going to be here later, and I told him I’d likely be there until closing time. He grinned and said he’d be back.
That’s when Zach pops in the back again. “Hey Matt, that old guy’s back, and he’s got a book for you.”A book?
Nu? What did you want from a blog I’m writing at 11 at night?
Oh, that’s right- recipe!
Yield: maybe 30 cookies?
1 1/2 C. Butter
1 C Sugar
2 Eggs (room temperatur)
6 Tbs orange juice
1 tbs vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
4 1/2 C flour
Filling (You can make this, or get jars of pie filling from the store- whatever you like!)
4 Peaches, peeled, pitted, and chopped small.
2 Pints Blueberries
1/2 C. Sugar
3 Tbsp Corn Starch
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Dried Thyme
Fresh Thyme for Garnish
Method for Filling
- Put fruit in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Don’t freak out if the fruit starts steaming and sizzling, that’s a good sign. Meanwhile, mix together the sugar and cornstarch.
- When a good amount of liquid has gathered at the bottom of the pan, remove from the heat and add in the cornstarch/sugar mix, lemon juice, and dried thyme. Mix well
- Return to heat, but on medium-low, and stir frequently. Let the fruit simmer until goopy and thickened. Let cool.
Method for Cookie Dough
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and scrape the bowl well.
- Add in the orange juice and vanilla. Mix on low speed, and gradually add the flour and baking powder. Wrap the resulting dough in plastic and chill at least 30 minutes.
Assembly and Baking
- Preheat your oven to 375 F.
- On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4″ thick, and use a cookie cutter to cut out circles. This will determine the size of your cookies- for mine, I tend to cut them about 5″ diameter.
- On a papered sheetpan, lay out your circles and brush the edges with egg wash.
- Take your cooled filling, and scoop 1tbsp into the center of each circle.
- Fold the edges of the circle up and overlap them to make a triangle with a small opening in the center. Make sure the corners are getting pressed- you don’t want them opening in the oven!
- Brush the hamantaschen with egg wash if desired for a glossy golden look.
- Bake your hamantaschen for 8 to 10 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the cookies are golden with bit of browning along the bottom. Remove to a wire rack to cool, and sprinkle with fresh thyme!Stay Classy,